Favourites Spring 2020

Spring 2020 Favourites!

So, as someone who is Very Original and Does Not Copy Others At All, I’ve decided to start doing a favourites series. I’m not going to do posts every month because, to be honest, I don’t consume enough to be making posts every month! Instead, I’ve decided to go for quarterly posts. This probably won’t actually be spring themed, but I will be talking about the media/products I’ve enjoyed recently. The categories might change as we go along, if I have different things to talk about, but we’ll see where we are at the end of June!

Books

The End of the Ocean – Maja Lunde

I wrote a fully review for this on my blog, here, but in summary, it’s a speculative, ecofiction novel spanning two different time periods, considering the ripple effect of climate change from present to future. It follows on from The History of Bees (same theme, different characters), and continues to consider different aspects of climate change. I found The End of the Ocean a more realistic look at the future than The History of Bees, but I really enjoyed both.

Ulysses – James Joyce

I wrote a LOT of posts about Ulysses last summer. I’ve been re-reading it — I did start back at the end of summer to reread, but I’ve recently picked it up again. It’s something you really do get a lot out of second time round, because it’s so complex you miss a lot on first reading. Now I know more about what to expect, I’ve felt better equipped to go through it with more of a fine tooth comb, trying to gain a better understanding.

Four Stories – Alan Bennett

Another one I reviewed recently for the blog! I’ve loved Alan Bennett since I read The History Boys for my A Level, and I would highly recommend this to anyone who’s after a slightly irreverent, hilarious collection of short stories, particularly if you’re a fan of British humour.

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference – Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is an incredibly inspiring young woman, and I was glad that my dissertation gave me the chance to read this collection of her speeches. The more I learn about her, the more impressed I am by her bravery, tenacity and intelligence. It’s difficult to believe that she’s still just a child, because she’s talking a lot more sense than most of the adults in power. She talks in easy to understand, yet not dumbed-down terms, offering some very concrete ideas coming from some of the leading climate scientists of the day.

TV

Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4)

I used to say I didn’t really enjoy comedy shows, but I think I just hadn’t found my niche. Friday Night Dinner is a sitcom about a Jewish family (and their eccentric next-door-neighbour Jim). Every episode has me laughing out loud, and I’ve been looking forward to season 6 since I worked my way through the backlog about a year ago. New episodes are now airing, every Friday of course, at 10pm on Channel 4. And, even better, the boxset of seasons 1-5 is available on 4oD, and the new series is also being uploaded after each episode airs.

Doctor Who (BBC1)

I adore Jodie Whittaker. I’ve been watching Doctor Who since 2006, and I’m very happy that we finally have a woman in the title role. The most recent series wasn’t my favourite series, but it’s definitely worth a watch, and an improvement on the previous season, which was also the current showrunner Chris Chibnall’s first season. Since the latest series ended, I’ve been bingewatching all the “New Who” episodes on Netflix, though I think they’re also all available on iPlayer.

The Witcher (Netflix)

Generally, adaptations of games aren’t my thing. The Witcher, however, technically, is adapted from a book series, the same book series the games are adapted from. I really enjoyed it, though the chronology is somewhat confusing. Stick with it if you’re confused initially, by the end I’d figured it out! “Toss a Coin to your Witcher” is a horrendously catchy song, and I spent a month putting it on every party playlist I could. There’s currently one season available on Netflix, and it’s only 8 episodes, so no excuse not to check it out.

Sex Education (Netflix)

Sex Education was massively popular when it first came out, but as usual, I was late to the party. I’m a big fan of Gillian Anderson, though, so it really was only a matter of time before I got to it. And when I got to it, I got to it. I watched both seasons in about a week, to the confusion and shock of my housemates, who regularly heard sex noises coming from the TV in the lounge, accompanied by my shout of “it’s not porn, it’s just Sex Education!”. Maybe don’t watch this one with your parents, but it genuinely does offer some good advice, and manages to obscure how much you’re learning with coming-of-age teenage drama. Again, it’s on Netflix, and there’s two seasons for you to get your teeth into.

Films

Little Women (2019)

What can I say about this film? If you’ve not watched it, I’m sorry. It’s beautiful. I love it. I love Jo March. In her immortal words, WOMEN!

Parasite (2019)

Parasite will make you uncomfortable. If it doesn’t, I’m not sure we watched the same film. It takes your expectations and completely turns them on their head. The first half of the movie, I was having a laugh, I was having a good time. Then, suddenly, I was watching a horror film. This isn’t a straightforward “rich people bad, poor people good” film. This shows the effects of capitalism on workers, and shows how normal people can become desperate enough to do terrible things. The rich people in this film aren’t portrayed as evil, rather ignorant. I had to do a lot of thinking about this film after I watched it, and I’m still not sure I’ve got everything I can out of it. Definitely one to rewatch.

Miss Americana (2020)

Yes, I recognise the irony here. Going from talking about Parasite, an objective critique of the capitalist class system, to talking about a documentary about an incredibly rich pop star. But Miss Americana is a fascinating look into celebrity. I’m a big Taylor Swift fan (if you weren’t already aware…), so of course I was going to watch this. A lot of the things featured in the documentary I was already aware of from having followed Taylor Swift for so long, but I hadn’t heard her talk about her experience of fame so candidly before. I’ve always found her incredibly earnest, honest, and above all compassionate, and this documentary did confirm that for me. For a lot of people, who haven’t followed her, it was an eye-opening watch. It’s available to stream on Netflix, and features an original song, “Only The Young”.

Music

Once I Was an Eagle – Laura Marling

I had this album recommended to me recently. I usually save albums I’m recommended ‘to listen to later’ and then I invariably never do, but something made me actually listen to this one, and I am glad I did. It’s a gorgeous folk album, and it’s so cohesive and relaxing to me.

Lover – Taylor Swift

I’ve written an entire blog post on Lover. Can you tell I’m a big Taylor Swift fan? Currently I’m loving “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” and “I Think He Knows” from this album.

Bad Ideas – Tessa Violet

This album came out a while ago, in summer, and I’ve had it on high rotation since then. “Bored” particularly hits home at the minute, but through the last few months, I’ve felt pretty much every emotion Tessa Violet sings about on the album, so my particular favourites have shifted quite regularly to reflect how I’m feeling.

And Now, We’re Shining – Sarah Close

I’ve been waiting for a new Sarah Close EP for ages, and I was very excited for the release of And Now, We’re Shining. At the minute, I have “Almost” on repeat from this album. I’ve not listened to it that many times yet — it’s still very new — but it bangs. Sarah is the ultimate Cool Girl in my eyes, ironic seeing as one of her songs is about ‘cool’ culture, but she comes across as so effortlessly confident, and she can pull off the streetwear kinda style I could never hope to, so I think she’s cool.

Podcasts

The Anthropocene Reviewed

This is a monthly podcast by John Green, in which he reviews different facets of the human-centred planet (his words). I’m not usually into podcasts with a single host, but I find this one quite relaxing. The episodes are also shorter than most podcasts I listen to, coming in around twenty minutes. In each episode, John Green reviews two seemingly random aspects of life, and gives them a rating out of five. Some episodes are more light-hearted than others, and some are more serious. Some are a mix of both. I also like that it’s less regular than a lot of my podcasts, because I do sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by weekly, hour to hour-and-a-half long episodes coming from several different shows that I want to catch up on.

Trends Like These

Trends Like These is one of those shows I just mentioned, that posts a roughly 90 minute episode every Friday. Trends Like These is a news podcast, hosted by Brent Black and Courtney Enlow (and until recently, Travis McElroy). I find it a good way to consume news, as it addresses internet trends and debunks a lot of myths going around, offering actual facts. In this post-truth society, it can be hard to get to the crux of issues, as everything is obscured. Politics is leaning towards a personality, rather than policy, contest, and so it’s good to have a reliable source of information. Obviously, due to the nature of the show, they deal with a lot of serious stories, so the tone is often quite sombre, but they also make an effort to bring some joy into their listener’s days. I have to say, I’m sad about the loss of Travis, but I’m sticking with it to see how it works with two hosts, and to see what happens with the show going forward.

Delete This

Delete This is hosted by Hank Green (brother of John Green), and his wife, Katherine Green. Together, they go through twitter trends, and Hank’s tweets in particular, explaining twitter trends and riffing on a lot of Hank’s tweets. Katherine is, on principle, opposed to twitter, so it makes for an interesting dynamic. This podcast is pretty consistently funny, and they post weekly episodes that tend to last about 45 minutes, which for me is quite a good length for a podcast.

Games

Bloodborne (PS4)

Bloodborne is definitely weird. It’s a souls game, following on from the Dark Souls series, and uses similar game mechanics, but changes the setting from medieval-style to contemporary. The outfits look cool as hell, and the enemies are weird as hell. The game shifts from classic zombie/werewolf type enemies to eldritch horror style patchwork enemies that are kind of recognisable as the creatures they’re based off, but distorted.

Overcooked

Overcooked is a brilliant party game to get everyone in the room screaming. It’s available on a lot of different platforms, and it’s just a series of levels in which you play as a chef, desperate to satisfy the hunger of the the customers. Sounds simple? Wrong. Things in the kitchens will move about; you might not be able to access certain things at certain times, and you never really know what the game is going to throw at you in the next level. This is designed to be played with others, but you can also play on your own, for slightly lower levels of chaos.

Dead in Bermuda

This a strategy, turn-based RPG. The player is in control of a group of survivors of a plane crash. I go through phases with this game, where I forget about it for a while, and then play obsessively. My only real critique of this game is that the normal difficulty is insanely hard, and the easy difficulty is really easy. I finally manged to complete the game recently, after caving in and switching the difficulty to easy. It’s available on Origin for PC, and also on Android. I’m not sure about any other platforms.

Azul (board game)

This is a pretty board game. It’s a strategy game, with the player having to select which tiles to pick up. The aim is to get as many points as possible by collecting varying amounts of matching tiles, and then placing corresponding tiles onto the points board.

Mario Kart Tour

There’s not much to say about this game. It’s Mario Kart on mobile. They’ve just launched multiplayer, and it turns out I’m still bad at playing Mario Kart against other people. It’s also far too addictive.

Websites/Apps

VSCO

I started to edit my photos for my instagram on VSCO this year, and I really like how easy it is to use. I’ve saved the ‘recipe’ that I use for my instagram posts, which makes it really quick to edit my photos.

Backloggd

Backloggd is like GoodReads, or Letterboxd for video games. ‘Nuff said.

Discord

Discord was originally developed for gamers, but I use it for blog support groups, and there are so many different discord servers out there for so many different things. It’s become a great way to find people interested in similar niche topics, and a great way to keep topics separate, yet keeps everything easily accessible. Especially at the minute, good communication apps are really important, so I’m enjoying discord to keep me feeling connected, particularly to the bookish community.

Food/Drink

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

It takes a while to simmer, but it’s worth it. I was suspicious at first, of the onion, as it seems wrong to put it in during the cooking and then removing it for the eating stage, but this sauce really is magical.

Vimto

I don’t really have much to say, other than I’m obsessed with vimto. Not sponsored, I promise.

Whittard’s Blackberry and Elderflower Instant Tea

Again, not sponsored. It’s just really nice, and easy. Works hot or cold, so works well for both winter and summer. I love the range of Whittards instant teas, but this is the one I’m hooked on at the minute. Before, over Christmas, it was the Mulled Wine flavour. So good.

I think that was the longest post I’ve ever made, so thank you if you’ve stuck with me until the end! Let me know if you’ve enjoyed any of the things I’ve mentioned here, and let me know if there’s anything you think I’d enjoy based off what I’ve said here! Thank you so much, hope you’re all staying safe and well. Until next time!

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