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The Best of 2005 in Music, Books and Movies



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. The year two thousand five is coming to a close. So we present a special year ender show this week.

We hear some of the best country songs of the year…

Tell about some popular movies released this year…

And…Report about some successful books published in two thousand five.

Country Music


This year, we are looking back at some of the best country music songs released recently. Bob Doughty plays some country music hits of two thousand five.


VOA Country Music expert Mary Morningstar says one of the songs of the past year she likes best is by singer Jo Dee Messina. It is the first hit song on her album, “Delicious Surprise.” It is called “My Give a Damn’s Busted”.


Another of Mary’s favorite artists this year is the country group called “Sugarland.” She says everyone should look for more success from this group in the future. One of their big hits this year was from their album “Twice The Speed of Life.” Here it is:“Baby Girl”.

My Kind of Livin'" hspace=2 src="/specialenglish/images/amazon_Craig_Morgan_CD_Livin_1501.jpg" width=150 align=left vspace=2 border=0>(MUSIC)

Each year, Billboard Magazine publishes lists of the most popular recordings. Billboard says the most popular country single record this year was by Craig Morgan. We leave you now with that song, “That’s What I Love About Sunday”.


Top Selling Books


Hundreds of books are published in the United States each year. Only a few are extremely successful. Here is Faith Lapidus to tell us about three of the best books of the year.


One extremely successful book published this year is “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. It won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction.

Didion writes about the year following the death of her husband and the serious sickness of her daughter. Critics say the book describes how a person mourns for a loved one and for the end of a long marriage. They say it shows the ways people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends.

People who have read “The Year of Magical Thinking” say that it is extremely honest. But it is not meant to be a self-help book for others who are mourning. Some people say it did help them recognize that they are not alone in sadness after the death of a loved one. Still others say that Joan Didion’s book takes the reader on a trip to a place that people can not fully imagine until they have been there.

Another critically praised book published this year is “The March” by E.L.Doctorow. It is a fictional story based on real people and events in history. The event is the American Civil War during the eighteen sixties. The real main character is the Union General, William Tecumseh Sherman.

The story follows Sherman’s army as it marches through the South in the final days of the war. It shows the burning of southern cities and the executions of captured soldiers. It shows how the characters are changed by the war --Union and Southern soldiers, blacks and whites, men and women. Critics say the book tells a human story that shows how people in the South reacted to the destruction of their world.

A third notable book published this year is “Prep” by a young woman named Curtis Sittenfeld. It tells about the experiences of a young American girl at a high school where the students live. This kind of school is called a boarding school or prep school. The main character is Lee Fiora who tells the story as a twenty-four year old looking back on her school days. People who have read “Prep” say it makes the reader feel what Lee feels during her four years at the school. And it clearly shows how young people will deny their individuality to fit in with the group.



Three of the best movies of the year were about American men who became famous during the nineteen fifties and sixties. Pat Bodnar tells us about them.

ANNOUNCER: Critics say “Good Night and Good Luck,” “Capote” and “Walk the Line” were among the best American movies this year. The three films were based on true stories about famous men. Movies about famous people are called “biopics”. The three movies also create detailed pictures of America as it was about fifty years ago.

“Good Night, and Good Luck” is about the famous CBS television newsman Edward R. Murrow. It shows how he made television broadcasts against Senator Joseph McCarthy in nineteen fifty-four. Murrow showed that the powerful senator’s charges of disloyalty against innocent Americans were false.

David Strathairn plays Edward R. Murrow. The actor looks and sounds very much like the famous newsman. George Clooney plays Murrow’s producer, Fred Friendly. Mister Clooney also directed the movie. Critics say the film is about power, truth-telling and responsibility.

Truman Capote was a famous, wealthy writer living in New York City. In nineteen fifty-nine, he read a newspaper story about the murder of a family in a small town in Kansas. He decided to write a book about it.

The movie “Capote” shows how he spent the next six years following the case. Capote established a close relationship with one of the two men jailed for the murders. The two were finally executed for their crimes.

Capote published his book, “In Cold Blood,” in nineteen sixty-six. Experts said he created a new kind of non-fiction: a crime story that was literature. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Truman Capote in the movie. The actor changed his appearance and voice to look and sound more like the famous writer.

The actor Joaquin Phoenix also changed his appearance and voice to star as singer Johnny Cash in the film “Walk the Line.” The movie tells about Cash’s life from childhood in a poor Southern family to success as a country music singer.

Phoenix performs Cash’s most famous songs in the movie. Reese Witherspoon plays June Carter, a famous country singer who performs with Cash and later marries him. Some critics say the two were among the best performances by actors in movies this year.


I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our special program for the end of the year. And we in Special English wish you a Happy New Year.

Our show was written by Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.