Just look at me, committing to things (things such as new blog series) left right and centre one month and then going back on my word and failing to deliver the next. I can’t blame it on the strange situation we find ourselves in – I’ve spent more time in my house than I have done in a long time – so I suppose I’ll have to blame my old friend procrastination.
Still, although it’s TWENTY EIGHT days late, I thought I would go ahead and upload the second volume of Read. Watch. Listen, my new monthly (or supposedly monthly) blog post on what I’d recommend from all the books, podcasts and tv I’ve been consuming of late.
It’s a brief one this time, partly because I’ve got the third volume coming up next week, and partly because I spent all of February and the start of March in a campervan in New Zealand, so there wasn’t a huge amount of watching anything. I listened to a couple of podcast episodes and rather pathetically crawled through half a book, but mostly it was all about consuming ridiculous views instead.
That said, I do have one really good recommendation of each, so whatever your entertainment tipple is, hopefully there’ll be something in here of interest. Let’s get cracking!
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney | I read Normal People, Sally Rooney’s other novel, last year. I really liked it, but I haven’t seen nearly as much general hype for Conversations With Friends, which to me was even better, although I can’t quite put my finger on why that was. The book charts the unfolding and evolving relationships between our narrator Frances, her best friend and former girlfriend Bobbi, and Nick and Melissa, a married couple, and examines the fixations, jealousy, and carcopheny of other emotions that sit alongside those relationships.
Despite our somewhat different situations and life stages, something about Frances felt so familiar to me, and this strange almost-kinship with a fictional person – in a way that was entirely different to the ‘omg so relatable’ we sometimes get with book characters – was something that made the book memorable to me. I’ve read plenty of reviews that hated her, so I’m not sure what that says about my own character, but if there’s one thing this book isn’t lacking (apart from so serious-they’re-comical earnest conversations), it’s nuance, so I’m not sure I could have make any too harsh judgements on anyone in it. Might some people find it pretentious? Yes, but if I’m honest a little affectation has never bothered me.
Noughts & Crosses | I recall one of the English classes in my high school – not the one I was in – reading a book called Noughts & Crosses. I didn’t know what the subject matter of this book was at the time, but I remembered the name, and after watching this adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s 2001 novel, I really wish it had been the one my class had read too. Set in an alternate Britain where a black ruling class (‘crosses’) preside over the racially inferior white noughts, the six episode series follows the forbidden relationship between Sephy, daughter of the home secretary and member of the black elite, and Callum, son of their housekeeper and part of the white underclass.
Incredibly evocative and with an underlying feeling of real danger, the series asks important questions of a white audience through both it’s general premise and some particularly powerful and seemingly innocuous moments – at one point in the first episode, we see that in this world it’s white people who don’t get plasters to match their skin colour, and in another it’s the noughts’ names which get blithely mispronounced. I’ve seen a few reviews criticising the character development, chemistry between the main characters and the changes in the page to screen adaptation, but for me it was those little moments which made it a really important watch (and now, of course, I need to read the book).
The Dream | Prepare to get even angrier about those ‘Can I talk to you about a great business opportunity?’ messages that relentlessly find their way into your inbox. Prepare to feel an even stronger sense of pity and exasperation when you see someone you went to school with posting about the uNbElIeVeAbLe products that are making her a hashtag girl boss. This 10 episode series hosted by investigative reporter Natasha Del Toro is an exploration of MLMs (that’s multi-level marketing, a name that as a marketer I find really quite offensive) and pyramid schemes and the effect they can have on the people involved.
Natasha is, clearly, sceptical of multi-level marketing schemes, and does insert a lot of her own opinions in to the investigation, but there’s also plenty of genuine research and accounts from various relevant sources that range from sad to genuinely aggravating. If you have ever found yourself several hours deep in Elle’s #Poonique story (I certainly have) or found yourself experiencing a strange mix of empathy and frustration as you watch people you thought you respected post incessantly about the latest MLM they’ve joined, I think you’ll enjoy this.
Got any recommendations for me? Stick them in the comments, I could do with discovering some stuff to consume in this strange new world.