The recent lockdown has caused a major disruption to my usual Christmas themed Instagram. Under normal circumstances, I’d have been able to pick up a cheap box of crackers on my lunchbreak at work. Since all shops have been closed and I’m, once again, staying inside as much as possible, it’s been harder tracking them down. Or, at least, tracking them down for a price that is cheap enough considering I’m going to destroy them. Thankfully, I found a box on Oxfam and decided that the additional charitable donation would somehow offset my intentions. While I was browsing the site, I got a bit sidetracked by all of their Moomin related items. I put a whole bunch of stuff in my basket but, after a lot of thought, got rid of all but a few things. One of them was this delightful book containing two stories by Tove Jansson. It seemed like a must for any real Moomins fan.
I have to admit, I haven’t watched a ton of Billy Wilder films. I’ve watched a lot of the big ones but not enough. I have loved Some Like It Hot since I was a teenager. My sister had a copy of it on VHS and I used to steal it from her room all the time. Without asking obviously and I wouldn’t give it back if I could help it. I sort of hoped that the longer it was in my possession for the easier it would be for me to just claim it as my own. Of course, at that point, I didn’t know anything about the Austrian born director or his Moldovan co-writer Iz Diamond. I just knew that it was a funny film. I’ve since learnt a thing or two about the pair, so I was very excited when Jonathan Coe’s new book was announced. Not only was it an insight into the real-life figures but it was a blending of fact and fiction. I love books that mess with real-life events. I bought it a week or so ago and I started it as soon as I possibly could. I knew that I was going to like it but would it become my new favourite Coe novel?
It’s always going to be big new when a famous person turns their hand to writing a novel. There is always the question of how good it is going to be. Plus, you have to wonder if they’ve been handed a publishing deal that should have gone to someone else. I mean, Katie Price has published loads of books but did she deserve it? Yes, she gave a ghostwriter a job but those books are just empty of quality. Or at least the ones I’ve read. The publishing industry is unfair and it’s already incredibly difficult for new writers to get their start. So, the new that Richard Osman got a 7 figure deal, £1.1 million, does raise questions. Was his book going to be worth reading or was it just an obvious cash grab? It’s from how well it’s done, that the money won’t be an issue but what about the content? I had to find out.
I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m far too stubborn about certain things. I’ve discussed it before and I’m sure it will come up again. When it comes to certain topics, I’m sticking to my guns regardless. One of those things is YA fiction. I’ve had such terrible experiences when reading YA fiction that I now avoid it at all costs. I’m not going to say that it’s bad but it’s not for me. And it’s not just books. Whenever I see another adaptation of a Young Adult novel, I just roll my eyes and ignore it.I rarely give them a chance because I just assume it won’t appeal to me. Although, I’m also someone who is something of a glutton for punishment. I’ve given plenty of YA fiction a chance. That’s the reason I’ve been disappointed so often. So, why not films? I decided to give one a chance as it really was the best companion for Dating Amber this week.
What’s this? Another teen original movie from an online streaming service? I know, I know. Have I learnt nothing from last week? You’d think that I’d had my feel of stupid teenagers thanks to Work It and Save the Last Dance but apparently not. I’ll be honest though, I picked this because of it’s runtime. My weekend was a bit hectic and I needed something I could breeze through in less than 2 hours. Although, I felt as though this also had a bit more going for it than Netflix’s offering. The LGBTQ+ centred story brought a new twist on the teen romance and I always think that things get less stereotypical when you take them out of Hollywood. Dating Amber didn’t sound like it was going to be groundbreaking but I was happy to believe that it would be cuter than your average romantic comedy.
Last night, I attended my first virtual book club meeting. Despite being a massive book person, I’ve never actually been part of a book club before. So, to attend my first one on Zoom wasn’t great. I’m awkward and introverted at the best of times without adding being uncomfortable on camera as well. But, of course, it was mostly fine. I’d read the book in time and, as you’ll have read in my book review on Monday, I really loved the book. I knew before going in that it had been adapted into a film for Netflix but I didn’t want to watch it before reading. Fearing that it might alter my opinion of the book or something. Once I was finished, it seemed like the perfect choice for my TBT film this week. After all, any chance to watch Jane Fonda is something is welcome.
Every now and then I get a sudden urge to go back and read one of the books of my childhood. There was a time when I used to read the Sophie books by Dick King-Smith to cheer myself up. If couldn’t sleep for any reason then I’d just whip one off the shelf. It’s that great mixture of an easy read, lovely story, and a huge wave of nostalgia that really makes it worth doing. Which is why I put off the many books on my TBR list so I could read this book this week. I don’t know why but I suddenly had a huge desire to go back to this one. I loved The Worst Witch when I was younger and I remember reading or listening to them all. I also loved the TV show.
As far as I’m aware, Mr Rogers was never a thing in the UK. I’ve heard of him but only thanks to references in American TV and movies. This lack of awareness would normally have caused me to miss a film like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is based solely on the proposition that Fred Rogers is one of the greatest things to ever happen to children. I’m sure he probably is but films like this tend to rely on a certain nostalgic sentimentality that I just don’t have. It wouldn’t hit on all of the levels that the filmmakers intended. But, thanks to Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks, it was an Oscar-nominated film that I had to try and watch before the ceremony.
Non-religious Christmas films tend to follow the same basic stories depending on what genre they are. Those based on A Christmas Carol are pretty self-explanatory. Then you have the romance: a young workaholic realises that love and happiness should come before their career thanks to the interference from an elderly relative/something magical. Or the family film: a workaholic parent realises that they should be putting their family first so runs out of the big presentation just in time to see their child perform in the Christmas show. Both of these will inevitably end with the whole cast standing near a piano with their arms around each other and singing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Finally, you have the Santa Claus origin story: in which a kindly but childless man is chosen/decides to spread joy to other people by leaving presents under their tree at Christmas. We get it. We’ve seen it. So, I wasn’t sure what Netflix’s new animation Klaus was going to bring to the table besides a dreamy cast of voice actors. Still, I needed a break from all of the A Christmas Prince and Vanessa Hudgens nonsense.
December is probably always my worst month for reading. This year is better because I’ve been a better reader all year. That doesn’t mean I’m at the top of my game though. I’ve been reading Nothing Last Forever since the start of the month and it’s taking me ages. I’ve had to pick some quick reads to make sure I have something to write about. Last week’s The Letters of Father Christmas was one and today’s Festive Spirits is another. What I have managed to achieve this year is sticking to Christmassy reads. I normally try and theme my reading but have never normally managed it. It feels good to be reading appropriate books for a change. Every other December I’ve been madly trying to finish the book I started in October or November and haven’t bothered to get through yet. I’m also normally still a fair way from my reading goal but I’ve already beaten it twice this year. Maybe I’ve finally become a proper adult? Well, it only took 31 years.