I rented this film from Amazon Prime when it was on offer but it never felt like the right time. This seemed like the kind of film that needed my full attention and I’ve just not been in the right frame of mind lately. I’ve been so exhausted, which has meant I could only face watching lighter/sillier films. I really wanted to watch this film though. Thankfully, my time was running out. After getting ahead of my things to do this weekend, I sat down to watch it and was able to give it my full attention. After a couple of fairly mediocre films, it was going to be good to get back to something decent. I was craving a film that had a real story to tell. One that would fully explore its characters and their lives.
I’ve probably said this far too many times recently but I had decided that I was never going to read this book. I’d been put off by the bright pink colour and the title. I couldn’t help but imagine romantic-comedies or YA fiction. I’m not against back protagonists but I am against anything too sentimental and lovey-dovey. I don’t really do romance. I’m too cynical for hearts and flowers. However, I’ve only heard good things about this book so I had to try it for myself. And it’s just another way to add to my anti-racist reading list. The more non-white authors and protagonists I embrace the better, right?
One of the best thing about being a book blogger is that you often get the chance to read things you would normally have missed. Has Samiksha Tulika Ransom not messaged me on Instagram, then I might not have known this anthology existed. When I checked out the anthology, it sounded like exactly the kind of thing that I should be reading. I know I say it every time I review poetry but I don’t read enough poetry. Even though I studied the Romantic poets at university, I am still a little intimidated by poetry. I have much respect for anyone who writes it. I wouldn’t have confidence in myself. And if I did, I’d definitely never try and deal with such important themes.
As it’s the first day of a new year and a new decade, it seems like the perfect time for some self-reflection. Yesterday, I posted my lists of top films, books, and audiobooks for 2019. I normally manage to get through a lot of films each year so 2019 was nothing new. In terms of reading, I’ve really outdone myself. 2018 was the year that I set my first reading challenge. I put it at a fairly meagre 30 books but it was something that I only just managed to pass before December 31st. This year, to be on the safe side, I put it at 30 again. As you’ll know if you’ve read any of my recent bookish posts, I surpassed the 30 mark with a quarter of the year still to go. So, I upped it to 50 and managed to finish 58 books in total. I know compared to many people in the bookish community that this isn’t a great achievement. It is for me. Last year I struggled so much with reading slumps and not wanting to open up the book I was reading. In the last few years, I’ve spent months trying to get through single books. This year, I was normally reading about one a week. It begged the question: what had changed? Well, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I think I know.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to finish this book in time to write something tonight. It was super down to the wire. I men I only finished it an hour ago. Not because it wasn’t an enjoyable book but because I’ve been rubbish recently. Plus, my sister brought my niece round on Monday and it really cut down on my reading time. Plus, the usual laziness and binge-watching that prevents me from getting stuff done. But at least this brings up my total for books read this month. I needed to get one more in before August ended. It’s not been a great one in terms of page numbers. Can I blame the weather? Or the fact that I’ve been busy at work? Doubtful but that’s not going to stop me. Instead, let’s just rejoice in the fact that I’m managed to finish something and can actually get this review written.
Fucking Bradley Cooper, man. I can’t say that I’ve ever been a massive fan but, once again, I seem to be in the minority. We’re in a situation in which the guy has been nominated for an acting Oscar 4 times. 4 times! One Best Supporting and three Best Actor. I just don’t get it. His best role to date, in my mind, is his voice performance as Rocket Raccoon. His performance in Silver Linings Playbook was messy and over-the-top. His performance in American Hustle wasn’t exactly stand-out either. Basically, I’ve just never seen him do anything that really wowed me. He’s just been lucky enough to be surrounded by better actors who make manage to disguise him. So, when I heard he was starring in and directing a remake of A Star Is Born I was hardly queuing up outside the cinema to see it. But then is got all sorts of fucking praise and attention during awards seasons. I kept putting this film off for as along as possible but I finally had to accept that I needed to watch it. So I did. And I have some thoughts.
As I’ve said before, it’s sometimes difficult separating quality and purpose when reviewing something. When I reviewed The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas I was a bit scared to admit that I had been disappointed by the book because it was so tied up with such an important issue. I didn’t want to suggest that not liking the book meant that I was against the message at its core. It was that I thought it could have dealt with that issue better. I’m now facing that situation again as I try to work through my feeling for Matt Haig’s second mental health oriented book. How can you criticse a book where a man opens up about his mental health issues and discusses his difficult relationship with social media? How can you openly criticise a book that has, by all accounts, helped plenty of people deal with their own mental health issues? Any criticism of the book could very well be taken as a criticsim of Haig himself or the people who have found help from it. But reading is a very personal thing. As is mental health. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another. So, it is with trepidation, that I offer my immediate thoughts on Notes on a Nervous Planet.
I often worry about books that everyone tries to force me to read. There have been so many occasions where I’ve read a super hyped book and been utterly disappointed. When my friend gave me a copy of Gone Girl it was accompanied by the fact that Molly Ringwald had loved it. You’ll probably remember from my ’30 Books for My 30th’ series that I never finished Gone Girl because it bored me to tears. Everyone I know raves about how good it is and how shocking the twist is. I feel like they must be reading a different book to me. I could see where it was going from the start. Then there was The Girl on the Train, which was celebrated as the new Gone Girl and named as a “must read”. Another super obvious and boring psychological thriller. I hated it but I did finish it. So, when I saw Eleanor Oliphant all over Instagram I became suspicious. It started to win awards and a friend of mine kept insisting that I read it. Still, I wouldn’t let myself believe. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a cheap copy in a charity shop that I decided it was time to read it. Would it be as good as everyone would have me believe?
There are some movies so iconic that you probably know about them without having to watch them. That’s how I always felt about Rain Man. Obviously, it wasn’t something I was going to watch when it came out on account of being/having just been born. I think the first time I became aware of it as a film was an episode of The Simpsons. It was referenced in the episode when Mr Burns opens a casino and we see the main characters at Homer’s blackjack table. I guess over the years I figured I knew enough about the film to not waste my time watching it and I’ve never seen a problem with it. Thanks to this Throwback Thirty project I’m finally getting a chance to see the supposed Best Film containing the Best Acting performance of the year I was born. It seems like the kind of thing I should be watching instead of the all the B movie crap that makes up most of my TBT jar.
I have always considered myself to be something of a poetry fan. After all, I spent as much time as possible at university studying the poetry of the Romantic period. I’m a massive fan of the work of Byron and Shelley. T.S Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” shares the title of my favourite poem along with ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. If anyone were to ask me, I’d confidently say that I was a poetry buff. However, the more I think about it the more I realise that this isn’t exactly true. Or, at least, not anymore. As anyone who reads my weekly rundowns will know, I’m not exactly great at reading novels let alone anything else. Every so often I will become a bit too self-aware and realise my inadequacies as a reader. Last year I decided I needed to read more non-fiction so bought some interesting books. I still haven’t read them. Every time the Man Booker International lists comes out I feel a pang of guilt for not reading enough foreign literature so I buy a few of the books or add them to my Amazon cart and promptly ignore them forever. I have so many books to read that it just becomes struggle to fit it all in. But poetry is something I figure I can embrace again and still manage to keep going with my normal reading. After all, a few poems here and there aren’t going to distract me too much. And there’s a whole world of contemporary poetry just waiting for me to explore. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do.