It’s only my third month of being part of a virtual book club but it’s already given me an excuse to read books that I’ve always wanted to. This month’s selection is another that I’ve been interested in but would never have read off my own back. Mostly because I always thought it would be a letdown. When this was suggested as a possible book, it was picked by someone who had seen the film. Now, I enjoyed Spike Lee’s adaptation of the book as much as the next person but I also knew that a lot of the plot had been made up. The bomb plot, for example, was not part of Ron Stallworth’s story but had been added for the film. I suspected that the person who put it forward was under the impression that the film was accurate. After all, she had described it as “shocking content (of the film was anything to go by)”. When it came to the vote, I went with another choice but was outvoted. I’m not complaining, merely stating a fact. I got my copy of the book and started to read. Boy, was it a bit of a slog.
I’m not normally much of a documentary watcher. If you ask me why I’d probably give you the excuse that I don’t have the time. That I have so many other films to watch and so many books to read. This is clearly nonsense. What I’ve discovered over the past few weeks is that I’m not as great an activist as I’d like to believe. It’s not that I don’t believe in the causes that I go on and on about. It’s more that I’m often too afraid of putting my money where my mouth is. Not watching documentaries like this is just another way to shield myself from real life. It helps me stay inside my little bubble where I can pretend that the world isn’t as bad as it actually is. So, as part of my vow to live a more non-racist lifestyle, I’m making sure that I watch all of the films that I let pass me by. As I’d already read James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk this week, it only seemed right to start here.
I had to take a quick break from my current anti-racist reading list to read my book club’s choice for this month. I’d put it off for ages because it was only short but we’re meeting over Zoom on Thursday. That meant I only had a couple of days to get through it. Thankfully, it’s only 170 odd pages and I managed to get in a quick read of Noughts and Crosses over the weekend first. This was the book that I voted for because I really did want to read it. I can’t say that I’m a massive fan of Nora Ephron’s films. I’m not a huge romantic comedy fan. I even disliked When Harry Met Sally and that’s a film that nearly everyone has seemingly agreed to enjoy. I admit, she certainly has a way with words and it’s not necessarily the writing that I dislike. Okay, that’s not true because the story is the writing. But it’s not a matter of quality, it’s just not my thing. I am convinced that she is a great writer and, provided I could find a story that I can get on board with, I was confident I’d enjoy it. So, why not this one? After all, people have been showing off their copies on Instagram for ages now. Although I have to admit, I hate the Virago Modern Classics diamond cover. I love a cover with texture but it doesn’t wow me. I tried so hard to track down the cover I wanted but it would have taken ages thanks to bloody Coronavirus. Of course, without Coronavirus, I wouldn’t have been in the book club anyway.
It’s been a really long time since I last posted a Friday Favourites list. To be honest, the series was getting tough and I was bored with it. I couldn’t think of interesting ideas and it was taking me too long to write them. So, I decided to scrap it. I was intending to come up with something different to post but it never happened. In light of the recent protests surrounding race discrimination, I decided to bring it back to life once again. I know that I don’t have a particularly big platform or that I have the ability to influence someone’s decisions. However, I have been lucky enough to be born with a privilege that many people don’t have. I have a voice and I need to use it. Last week, I posted a few suggestions for ways people could learn more about the things that the Black Lives Matter movement is marching for. To learn more about the systemic racism that exists in our society. It should not be up to black people to tell us what to do or how to do it. They’ve been doing the work for us for too long. So, I did something. I wanted to know what I had missed and what I needed to know. And, to help people in the same boat, I thought I’d share it. Hopefully, it can give other people some ideas.
I’m an avid listener of Adam Buxton’s podcast and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of his new book. He’s been banging on about how hard it’s been to write for ages, so I was worried that we’d have another George RR Martin on our hands. But he did it. The book was finished and it started appearing on book sites. Obviously, I’ve preordered a signed hardback of the book for when it’s released in August but, thankfully, Adam Buxton is a really nice man. He decided to produce the audiobook version himself so we all had something to listen to in quarantine. I used my Audible credit to preorder the audiobook and waited for its release. It took me a while to get through it because I started it on a bit of a whim. I couldn’t sleep one night and decided the only thing that would calm me down was listening to something. Then I had to finish the other books that I was reading before I carried on. But I got there eventually and, thanks to a bit of desperate listening this week, I finished it in time to review.
What would you pick as your last meal on Earth? It’s a difficult question. You might think you’d want to treat yourself to the fanciest or most expensive meal you could. However, it’s more than likely that people would pick something nostalgic or comforting. The kind of stodgy meals that take you back to your childhood and make you feel good about the world. Or maybe you’d just go wild and pick the least healthy meal you can think of. After all, it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it? What would I pick? Something carby and cheesy no doubt. Possibly that thing where you melt a wheel of cheese; add bacon, garlic, and whatever else; and then dunk a load of pasta into it. All served with a fresh salad and super garlicky garlic bread. I’d feel like shit afterwards but, as I’ve already said, it doesn’t really matter that much.
I had Monday off this week because of a hospital appointment. Officially, I didn’t need the day off but I thought I’d do it anyway. After all, taking the morning off and going in the afternoon would make me sad. So, I basically had a free day. I decided to take the opportunity to get another book read this week. I say read but, really, I mean listen. I’ve decided that audiobooks are going to help me get my reading groove back. Getting another chance to get through a whole book in one day means I’m back on track with my numbers and gives me a bit longer to finish my current read. It takes the pressure off a little. I’ve never been a massive fan of audiobooks because I find that I get distracted too easily. This is still a problem but I’m getting better. And being more exposed to them is helping me see the positives. There are certain books which just work better as an audiobook. Let’s not forget Lincoln in the Bardo which was one of the greatest listening experiences I’ve ever had. Then there are books that really need to be read out by the author. Like Nomad from last week. This is another one. I’ve never been a huge fan of celebrity memoir/self-help style books. It’s just not my thing. But I like Miranda Hart and wanted to give this a go. And it wasn’t like I had anything else going on today.
I imagine a lot, if not all, of bookish people believe that running a bookshop would be a dream job. For me, Black Books was the thing that convinced me. If I did own my own bookshop I’d want to discourage people from going in and ruining my fun. And by fun, I mean shelves full of books. I’m describing a library. But a library that has the ability to cause my financial ruin. Although I guess every bookshop has the ability to do that. In all seriousness, I think I’d do okay in a bookshop. I’m not as judgmental as I used to be which means fewer eye rolls when people bought certain books or authors. And it’s definitely a leas hands-on job than movies and TV would like us to believe. People going into independent bookshops mostly don’t want to chat. They just want to browse in peace. I could live with that.
I’ve never been a science person. I just don’t have the right mind for it. If you don’t believe me then you can ask my school teachers. I was definitely best at chemistry which is the only reason behind my implausible decision to study it for my A-Levels. My friend and I were so bad at the subject that, upon hearing we were both applying to Oxford, our teacher laughed at us. Turned out this was quite an astute assessment as I didn’t even get an interview but still mean. Still, it does go to highlight my obvious lack of a scientific mind. I’ve always been more of the dreamy and creative type. Still analytical, obviously, but with a more sentimental than structured focus, I guess. When faced with numbers and equations I just don’t really care. Give me words, music, or art and I’m much more comfortable.
I always wonder what’s wrong with the people who wish they’d been born in another year. Like all of those Tumblr teenagers who wish they’d been born in the 80s. It doesn’t make any sense. Yeah, I love John Hughes movies and glam rock as much as the next person. But living in the 80s? I don’t think so. The only people who ever say things like that are the people who only know that era through a microcosm. Ask the people who lived in the 80s, they’d probably tell a different story. Certainly in England, the 80s weren’t the magical place so many young people want to believe it to be. The economy had gone to shit, people were out of work, there was so much violence and hatred on the streets. Kinda like now but with even bigger shoulder pads and double denim. It wasn’t a great time overall. I’m sure people made the best of it but it will have been so difficult for so many. To romanticise any era of the past solely based on your pop culture/fashion tastes is to trivialise the reality of that time. And, as you can tell, it annoys the fuck out of me.