Welcome to my second Favourites post! I’ve used the same categories as last time because I felt like those fit pretty well, so take a dive in and see what I’ve been enjoying. Let me know in the comments what you’ve been loving recently!
For this section, I’m going to list the books I rated 5 stars on GoodReads (some will be rounded up) in the order I read them, and link to my reviews of them!
(gifted) Night Sky with Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong. (I received a free copy of this book from Faber after winning a twitter giveaway!) A short but powerful debut poetry collection of beauty, danger, and grotesquerie.
The Vegetarian – Han Kang. A short novel telling the story of a woman battling an eating disorder, and the reactions of those closest to her in a society where mental health is taboo.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen. A clever social satire on 19th Century life, love, and relationships from one of Britain’s best-known classic authors.
Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine. An essay in verse form examining racism in modern-day America, an incredible combination of anecdote, essay and poetry, smashing together celebrity culture and day-to-day life, violence and micro-aggressions.
I’ve not watched as much TV as I expected in lockdown, to be honest! There are a few series I’ve been enjoying though!
RuPaul’s Drag Race. I know I’m very late to the party on this, but my housemate got me into it, and I’ve really enjoyed watching the two most recent seasons of the US version during lockdown. You might be able to tell from this list that I have a bit of an issue with reality TV competition shows…
The Great British Sewing Bee. I’ve never watched Sewing Bee before, but I started this season in lockdown and I love it! It follows a similar format to The Great British Bake Off, with three challenges each episode. I’ve not watched the finale (or the semi!) yet, so please no spoilers in the comments!
And finally… The Great Pottery Throwdown. Yes, I am that predictable! This has a slightly different format to Sewing Bee and Bake Off. There’s one main challenge, and usually a smaller challenge in the middle (presumably to make the most of the free time the contestants have while their main challenge is drying out/being fired!).
The only film I’ve actually watched in the last three months is Annihilation, which I wrote about on my blog. I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it, and it’s honestly the only thing I have to talk about here! I’m just so bad at settling down to watch a film.
Again, I’ve been so bad at listening to music the last couple of months! It’s shocking, honestly. I’ve been listening to podcasts and audiobooks more than music! There are a couple of albums that I really want to listen to though, which are
Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple and
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers.
My Brother, My Brother and Me. Hosted by the McElroy brothers, MBMBaM as it is commonly known is a comedy advice-style podcast — and you should never follow their advice. The McElroy’s answer questions sent in by viewers, go on tangential riffs, and offer unsolicted answers to some of the funniest Yahoo Answers questions on the web. I found this podcast a few years back, and I made the mistake of deciding to listen to old episodes and catch up, so, full disclosure, I haven’t actually listened to any of the new episodes to attest to the quality. The 2016 episodes, however…
Doing It! With Hannah Witton. As the title suggests, this podcast is hosted by Hannah Witton, also known for her YouTube channels and two books, Doing It! Let’s Talk About Sex, and The Hormone Diaries. I recently wrote up a full review of this podcast, which has a new guest (or sometimes guests) each episode to talk about a different aspect of sex and relationships education. Hannah is wonderfully knowledgeable and inclusive, and invites a diverse cast of guests to talk about their own experiences.
Now, this is one thing I’ve been doing a LOT of in quarantine I’ve still been playing some of the games I mentioned last time, but I’ve also picked up some new (to me) ones.
Bioshock. I picked up the Bioshock collection pretty cheap on the PS Store, and I’ve been gradually playing through the series! The series is pretty well-known and loved by gamers, particularly the original. I really enjoyed the storyline and the plot twists (I was convinced the twist-reveal was the ending, and stayed up pretty late trying to finish, only to find out the plot twist is actually only really the start of the final act. Oops), even if it took me a little while to get used to first person shooter again, which I haven’t done a lot of.
Bioshock 2. I know, this is a controversial ‘favourite’. A lot of Bioshock fans dislike the second instalment, and instead prefer Bioshock Infinite. I really liked the idea of playing as a Big Daddy, though I did think more could perhaps be made of this — I didn’t feel like my character was stronger than my character from the original, though I would have expected that to be the case. I also wish the Big Sisters had a bit more backstory! I did really enjoy the DLC, Marina’s Den, though I found some of the main game a bit trying (having to defend the Little Sisters while they gather Adam is particularly infuriating!).
Bee Simulator. OK, this one is totally different to the others, but not everyone likes violent video games! This game does pretty much what you’d expect — you play as a young bee (your default name is Beescuit, which I think you can change but why would you want to when Beescuit is the cutest name ever???), and you fly around, collect pollen and play some other bee-behaviour-related mini games. There is a narrative, despite being a simulator, and it’s also really educational about the lives of bees.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. No, I don’t mean New Horizons. I don’t have a Switch, but I felt really left out of everyone talking about ACNH so to fill the gap, I downloaded Pocket Camp and now I’m addicted!
The StoryGraph. I’m sure many of you have heard of this website by now, but if not, it’s a reading tracker, and I wrote a post comparing it, and a new app, BookSloth to GoodReads, which is the most well-known and used reading tracker on the internet. I really like The StoryGraph’s way of reviewing books, as well as the pie charts you get that show you a bit about your reading habits.
Couch to 5K. I’m doing a series of posts tracking my journey through the C25K programme. It’s a great little app that really does coach you from being a total beginner to running to being able to run 5K (ideally). I’m actually almost halfway through and I can honestly say if it wasn’t for the coach cheering me on (my coach is Jo Whiley, but there are a few options), I wouldn’t be doing nearly as well as I am.
Feedly. Feedly is an RSS reader that I like to use to follow both sites like Pitchfork, Granta and the NYT, as well as blogs that can’t be followed through the WP reader. You can create channels to categorise the sites you follow, e.g., book blogs, lifestyle blogs, newspapers, and it shows you all your new articles in simple feeds. I’ve been neglecting it a bit lately, but I would definitely recommend it as a way to keep up with sites you would otherwise struggle to subscribe to!
FutureLearn. This is one I’m just getting into, but essentially, it offers access to a lot of free courses (most are free access, but some specialised courses are premium only) on a whole range of different topics! Many of them are provided by universities, so you can be assured that they’re going to be a decent quality. Courses are ran in real-time to an extent — i.e. content is uploaded weekly while the course is running, and you have a limited amount of time to access it if you’re using the free version. I’m currently doing a course from my university (Exeter) about the British Empire, and one by Southampton University on Jane Austen.
Rekorderlig Botanicals Rhubarb, Lemon and Mint. I recently discovered the Rekorderlig Botanicals Cider, specifically this flavour. It’s really refreshing on a hot day like we’ve had in the UK recently, so that’s my recommendation for any alcohol drinkers reading this!
Strawberry Smoothie. On a hot day, what’s better than chucking slightly over-ripe fruit and some milk into a blender and whizzing it up to make a gorgeous milkshake/smoothie? Very little.
Mediterranean Vegetable, Halloumi and Rice bake. This is a ‘recipe’ of sorts that I got from my dad, and I’m going to post the full thing on my blog in a couple of days, so look forward to that, but it does really boil down to ‘chuck it all in a bag’!