The Monthly Media Catchup: Everything I've Read, Watched & Listened To | March & April 2019
Hello! May has arrived and I’m bringing you a bumper edition of the Monthly Media Catchup. I spent most of March writing essays and crying about them so I didn’t get a chance to consume very much interesting media, hence why I’m combining the two months. However April was mostly spent reading, watching and listening to lots of wonderful things, so here’s all of the books, films, TV and podcasts I spent my time with during the months of March and April. There are some seriously good recommendations in this one, if I do say so myself (especially in the TV category)…
(all of these books were read as part of my English Literature degree)
This is a play about the outbreak of the AIDS crisis in New York City, how the world ignored it and how many gay men suffered as a result. It was heartbreaking and emotionally overwhelming to read and I can see why it was able to affect so much changed when it premiered. I’d really recommend reading this as a form of education and to understand how detrimental the AIDS crisis was and is, but also because it’s a fantastically gripping play.
In this memoir, a white man tells the story of how he disguised himself as a black man and made his way through the American south in the 1950s in order to expose the discrimination black people faced. It was uncomfortable to read and it doesn’t feel politically correct anymore, despite the amount of change it affected when it was published in the mid-late 20th century, which is why I’ve given it 3 stars.
A Day Off by Storm Jameson | ★★★★
I read this book as part of my Modernism module, which I haven’t been enjoying that much as I struggle to find anything too interesting in plots surrounding the day to day lives of middle/upper class white people. This one was different though and not only because the protagonist is working-class. I loved how Jameson used clothes as symbolism and there were so many other aspects like this that made it an interesting and gripping novel.
This book about the Windrush Generation is a timely reading but its casual misogyny really did date it. I enjoyed it in many ways but I feel quite indifferent towards it, the epitome of a 3 star review.
Gifted by Nikita Lalwani | ★★★
Another book that kind of epitomises a 3 star review! This is definitely a 3.5 where The Lonely Londoners was a solid 3 but again, there’s nothing that hugely stands out to me when thinking about this book apart from the fact that it was enjoyable and interesting, but just not enough.
Now for a book that I didn’t like, but I am ironically holding in all of these images! This is one of the aforementioned modernist texts that is about the daily life of an upper-class woman. If you’re really interested in modernist form you’ll love it but I am, frankly, not and found it draining in all the worst ways.
This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever read! As far as graphic novels go, I think this one was brilliant, but I still prefer books without pictures, sorry!
Exit West by Mosin Hamid | ★★★★
The concept of this novel is super interesting: a couple in a country on the midst of civil war find doors in which, if they step through, they are transported to some other random place in the world. My main criticism of this book is that it was too short and the characters and their storylines weren’t fleshed out enough for me. But otherwise, it was great!
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie | ★★★★★
Talk about saving the best to last! Home Fire is one of my favourite novels ever and this is the second time I’ve read it. It follows the life of 3 Muslim siblings living in London before, during and after, Parvaiz, the only male sibling, leaves the UK to join ISIS.In the mean time, Isma, the oldest sibling, and Aneeka, Parvaiz’s twin, become involved with Eamonn, the son of the Home Secretary. Intrigued? You should be! I first read this book just before Trump became the President of the USA and I thought it couldn’t it be any more relevant. Reading it for a second time shortly after Shamima Begum took over the news and mid-Brexit, I’ve realised I was wrong. A must-read!
This Is Us | ★★★★
It took me a while to get into this programme but I am well and truly hooked now. It’s very emotional and, at times, painfully cringeworthy but it’s feel good TV at its best. It follows the lives of three 30-something triplets, with frequent flashbacks to their upbringing, who all have very different lives. Honestly, Randall is the only sibling I like. But still, it deserves 4 stars and maybe even 5 but I’ve removed one because of the aforementioned cringe. It’s available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend | ★★★★★
Don’t even get me started on this show. A musical TV show dealing with the concept of the ‘pyscho girlfriend’ from its feminist implications to its simplification of mental health issues? I’m in. It’s much more of an easy watch then that sentence suggests but please just watch the first episode and see for yourself. It ended this month after a wonderful few years of it being my comfort show whenever I felt down but I’m honestly just excited to rewatch it and continue to listen to all the absolute hits that came out of it such as ‘Let’s Generalize About Men’, ‘Friendtopia’ (a fantastic Spice Girls parody) and ‘The Sexy Getting Ready Song’. It’s available on Netflix.
Fleabag | ★★★★★
I feel like everyone and their mum has watched Fleabag by now but if not, please do so! Created and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was also the mind behind Killing Eve, it follows the life of a young woman navigating grief, friendship, romantic relationships and so much more. It’s renowned for breaking the fourth wall and I have to say, it is one of the most intelligent and interesting TV programmes I’ve watched in a while (maybe ever?). It’s available on BBC iPlayer on Amazon Prime.
Game of Thrones | ★★★★★
OMG I discovered this new thing called Game of Thrones? It’s like, so niche, you probably won’t like it. Lol. Game of Thrones is back and I feel silly even sharing this here as I think more people watch it than they did Fleabag, but I am loving Season 8 so far (even if I was concerned about the slightly slow start) and I have spent the best part of the past 2 weeks reading theories and searching for memes about GoT. Did the final season really have to be released during my exams?
Green Book | ★★★
This film has been criticised because of its white saviour-y elements and I do agree with this criticism. However it does have some very redeemable qualities and the white saviour-y bits definitely weren’t as all-encompassing as I feared they would be. The ending was very annoying but it was an interesting film that did bring attention to some important events, facts and issues. It was also v. funny.
On Chesil Beach | ★★★★
I love a cringeworthy literary film (and book for that matter)- it’s one of my many guilty pleasures. This one, based on the Ian McEwan novel of the same name that I haven’t read, appalled to all my ‘literary film’ needs, plus Saoirse Ronan starred in it, so that bumps any film up by at least a star.
The Sense of an Ending | ★★
Another literary film! I actually watched these on the same night when I was feeling ill and a little bit sorry for myself. The main character was played by the same actor in both - seemingly because he embodies the literary 1960s 20 year old boy - but On Chesil Beach was much better. The novel in which the film is based on with the same name is one of my all-time favourite books and this film absolutely does not do it justice. I only gave it an extra star because I like the book and therefore I enjoyed the storyline of the film.
Someone Great | ★★★
A ‘chick flick’ like this one creeps into my life every couple of months when I need something totally stress-free to watch and this one did the trick very well. Staring Gina Rodriguez (aka Jane The Virgin, but don’t get me started on that), it depicts the 24 hours she spends with her friends after being dumped by her boyfriend. Mildly crap but everything I needed whilst watching it. It’s available on Netflix.
Mate Podcast | ★★★★★
I am so happy I discovered this podcast! 2 Liverpudlian girls having a good old chat about everything they’ve been reading and enjoying, as well as a heart to heart during their ‘Mate to Mate’ section. I binge listened to series one in the space of a few days and am now keeping up with their fortnightly uploads.
Always Take Notes | ★★★★
A career podcast that is super useful for anyone who would like a career that has anything to do with writing, but particularly journalism. My favourite episode was with Pandora Sykes (obvs) but I also enjoyed the episode with Rebecca Mead, who is a staff writer at The New Yorker.
I’ve decided that I want to become more educated than I already am on sustainable fashion and this podcast was a great place to start. The episode interviewing the Creative Director of Mother of Pearl, Amy Powney, was enlightening, as was the episode with Stella Mccartney’s Sustainability and Innovation Director, Clare Bergkamp. I also really enjoyed the interview with Fanny Moizant, who founded Vestaire Collective and has a wonderful French accent.
This is the only episode of this podcast that I’ve listened to because of my aforementioned love of Saoirse Ronan, but it was great! Would definitely recommend it if you’re also a fan of Saoirse.