First published on 19 Dec 2013. Updated on 18 Feb 2014.
Best international TV show: The Returned
In this French series that proved a smash in the UK, the dead return to the living – and not to haunt them or eat their brains. A masterpiece from the opening scene to the thrilling open-ended finish. Season two: come at us now.
We also loved: Broadchurch
Best Australian TV show: Please Like Me
Josh Thomas's sweet and quirky autobiographical look at coming out has won hearts in the US, and with good reason: it's a funny, super subtle and charming take on the generation that Girls got so wrong this year.
We also loved: Hamish McDonald's The Truth Is
Book we loved (by an Aussie): Christos Tsiolkas, Barracuda
Tsiolkas's The Slap divided this office almost as thoroughly as the slap at the centre of the book itself – the characters are just so awful was a common argument – but Barracuda had us all mm-mming in harmony. This spectacular novel about a man dealing with shame and failure is a must for your summer reading list.
Book we loved (by a non-Aussie): Iain Banks, The Quarry
It’s impossible to separate the work from Banks’ death, not least because the main character is watching his father die of inoperable cancer, but it acts as a perfect culmination of his work – from the first-person narrative of the autistic 18-year-old Kit (echoes of the Wasp Factory) to a mystery surrounding a long-buried secret shared by a dysfunctional group of friends (shades of the Crow Road). It’s also got some of his most beautiful writing and, in some of the character’s monologues on science and atheism, the closest thing we’ll get to a Banks philosophical treatise.