The Monthly Media Catchup: Everything I've Read, Watched & Listened To | January 2019
As you might have guessed from the title of this post, I’ve decided to start a new series on my blog! It’s called ‘The Monthly Media Catchup’ and, in these blog posts, I’m going to take you through everything I’ve read, watched and listened to each month. It’s kind of similar in format to a monthly favourites but the difference is, I’m going to be talking about everything, not just my favourites. So some things I will 100% recommend, some things I will advise you to stay away from (see: the books category in this post) and others I’ll be fairly ambivalent about.
I’m going to be sharing everything, so that includes things I’ve read and watched for university as well as for fun! The main categories are going to be books, TV, films and podcasts, as if I was to include things I’ve read online the list would be extensive. I’ll only mention new things I’ve consumed, or things I’ve returned to (e.g. if I re-read a book or return to a podcast I haven’t mentioned before). I’m also going to be rating everything so you can easily see the media you should and shouldn’t consume, although obviously my word isn’t law! I’m going to try and keep my reviews short and sweet as some months the sections might pile up, i.e. when I have a lot of reading for university or when I have time off university and watch a lot of Netflix.
Anyway, without further adieu, lets get started!
Heartburn by Nora Ephron | ★★★★
I started reading Heartburn at the end of 2018 and finished it at the beginning of 2019. I read it based on Dolly Alderton’s raving reviews and I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel that follows the protagonist’s life after finding out that her husband has cheated on her, depicting the ways in which she deals with this life-changing event, much of which is through food, which means the book is dotted with recipes. It’s an easy read and I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it! Four stars is quite generous and 3.5 stars would be more accurate.
The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst | ★
I’m not even slightly joking when I tell you not to get me started on this book. I hated it so much! I had to read it for university (I was supposed to have it finished in November but I couldn’t bring myself to do so until mid-January when I had to for an exam). It’s about a privileged gay man in his mid-20s named Will and the novel follows his life, and that of an older, very similar, man whose biography Will is writing, in 1980s London. The prospect of this novel excited me but its content was truly disappointing. There are many books that are worth your time so much more than this one because honestly no one needs to read this account of an upper-class man discussing his sexual encounters, the descriptions of which are sprinkled (*read drowned) in classism and racism. Hollinghurst's pleasing writing style does almost nothing to counteract how painfully infuriating this book is and I struggle to believe anyone who says otherwise! So yeah, do yourself a favour and avoid this book!
You (Netflix) | ★★★★
I ate up this Netflix series in a matter of days. It’s really addictive and although it didn’t change my life, I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something to binge-watch. It’s basically about a man (Gossip Girl’s Dan Humphrey) who stalks a women who he meets in his book-store, learning about her life and managing to get her to fall in love with him. Honestly the premise sounds very strange but to me, it was interesting in the way that Lolita is interesting in that it shows how an audience can accidentally end up rooting for the bad guy if he is given the opportunity to present himself in a positive light.
Sex Education (Netflix) | ★★★★★
This show is just brilliant! It’s addictive as it is empowering as it is educational and I wish it existed when I was 15. It’s based in a British high school (although it’s probably the most Americanized British high school ever) and the plot really starts when the show’s protagonist, Otis, teams up with cool-girl Maeve to provide sex therapy to their fellow students. It’s funny at times and emotional at others but it always presents growing up and feeling clueless about the way your body and relationships work in such an honest way.
Mary Queen of Scots (Cinema) | ★★★★
I went to see this film for my birthday and I had high hopes because it features both Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, who have starred in some of my favourite films of the last couple of years. And it didn’t disappoint! As the title suggests, the film is about the life of Mary Queen of Scots, played by Saoirse Ronan, and her rise and fall from power. If you’re going to this film for historical accuracy, you’re probably not going to be best pleased but I personally wasn’t and I really enjoyed it. It’s great to see two women starring in a historical narrative and, not only was it engaging, but it did teach me a little bit more about a period of history I don’t know much about, so it’s a win-win really!
Bandersnatch (Netflix) | ★★
I was quite excited to watch this film that’s part of the Black Mirror series but it was really disappointing. It’s an interactive film so you get to make decisions on the character’s actions and decisions… but you don’t really. If you make the wrong decision, you watch about 10 minutes of what would happen if the character made this decision, then you are taken back to the point where you make the decision again and have to pick the ‘right’ answer in order to reach the end of the film. It was a loong watch and the storyline wasn’t particularly interesting either so I generally just found it quite boring. It’s an interesting idea but it needs more work.
Private Life (Netflix) | ★★★★
This film made for the perfect lazy Sunday watch. It’s about a middle-aged couple living in New York who are struggling to conceive. I don’t want to say anymore as I don’t want to ruin anything but it’s beautifully filmed and is surprisingly funny considering its subject matter.
I don’t have too much to mention on the podcast front this month as I’ve kind of just been listening to the same old stuff (take a look at this blog post if you’re interested to know some of my top podcast recommendations). But I loved this episode of the Literary Friction podcast with Sally Rooney, author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends. She talks a lot about her writing process, especially for Normal People, which was super insightful, especially if you’re a fan of her work!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I know the photo isn’t brilliant but if I’m going to do this monthly I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to create incredible imagery to go with it- I hope that’s ok. Let me know if you’ve read/watched/listened to anything I’ve mentioned in this post, or if you do based on my recommendation!