A few more ‘top’ lists for the new year

Did you ever think there’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking?

– Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander

Go to bed early. Read a classic novel. Bake bread. Write something. See a friend.

These things belong to a nice little Top Five list I ran across in a magazine. It was compiled for a particular purpose, but I’ll get back to that later.

Whose life couldn’t be made better by top lists? Letterman’s top ten. People’s top people. The New York Time’s best-seller list. Casey Kasem’s top 40 songs with long-distance dedications. (Did I just date myself?)

Even virtual lists, like a computer calendar that, with a reminder chime, recalls every appointment, meeting, and birthday that normal-sized human brains aren’t capable of remembering.

Lists make things manageable. They provide a sense of possibility. And they’re popular.

Google “top five ways to” and you will find 73,100,000 hits ranging from the “five top ways to make rugby even better” to “five ways to cure Star Trek’s midlife crisis.” I don’t know what that means but I was too afraid to enter a Trekkie Web site to find out.

Lists I do regularly follow come from bookstores and newspapers. I may not be aware of the top world news stories any given weekend, but if you need to know which novels have been holding onto their top spots, I can hook you up.

Which is why I have compiled these two ’07 lists of the top five books and top five movies that are worth the time.

Top Five Random MOVIES Everyone Should Watch Because They’re Really Really Ridiculously Good:

1. “Zoolander.” Guilty pleasure funny. Before you push play, remember that I didn’t say it was “really really ridiculously intellectual.”

2. “The Lakehouse.” My personal favorite. Who said great love stories have to make sense? The dance scene with Paul McCartney’s song makes it worth the confusing time differences in the plot.

3. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” A classic it took me more than 30 years to watch. Trivia note: Audrey Hepburn’s little black “professional” dress from this movie brought $800,000 at a London auction in December.

4. “The Safe Side: Stranger Safety.” A personal safety video by John Walsh (“America’s Most Wanted”) and Julie Clark (“Baby Einstein”) for young kids and their parents. Safe Side Superchick is goofy, but will hold a child’s attention while talking seriously about the people they “don’t know” and “kinda know.”

5. “The Hours.” A story about how dismal circumstances and Virginia Woolf’s book Mrs. Dalloway affect three generations of women, including Woolf herself. (Julianne Moore is terrific as a desperate 1950s housewife-not unlike her character in “Far from Heaven”-the virtual No. 6 of my top five.)

Top Five Random BOOKS Everyone Should Read Because They’re Really Really Ridiculously Good:

1. “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom. His books are quick reads and will prompt you to apologize for anything you’ve ever done wrong to anyone, including your dog. They’re like little guilt day-trips.

2. “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. A ridiculously intense book with an unexpected ending.

3. “The Book of Ruth” by Jane Hamilton. The most frustrating group of characters ever created who are so worth reading about.

4. “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. A funny chronicle of (travel writer) Bryson’s attempt to hike the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail. Robert Redford is adapting this one into a movie.

5. “The Christmas Box” by Nicholas Paul Evans. A short Christmas tale that should be required reading for all parents (especially Dads) every Christmas.

Try one of these suggestions if you feel the need. I’ve already check-marked them all myself, so the pressure’s off of me to complete the lists. (It saves time to create lists of things you’ve already done. Not all that productive, but efficient.)

And speaking of no pressure, the five things I mentioned at the beginning-Go to bed early, read a classic novel, bake bread, write something, see a friend-make up the “Top Five Ways to Get Through January” list.

It could also be declared the “Top Five Ways to Get Through Every Month” list.

Except for No. 3: “bake bread.” That’s just unnecessary stress. You can get that stuff at the grocery store.

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