What I’ve Been Reading, Watching and Listening To Lately

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First things first! I haven’t been posting lately. But I have been reading a lot, watching a lot of great TV and have really enjoyed some new podcasts, so I thought a big catch up session on a Sunday would be a nice idea.

Second things second! I’m thinking of retiring my monthly favourites series? They were so good for so long, but now I’m finding the monthly deadline to be a bit inconvenient. I’d rather publish shorter posts more frequently on single topics, instead of cramming so many recommendations into one post. Anyway – for old times’ sake! – here are a lot of recommendations crammed into one post.

What I’ve Been Reading

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

I read a 720 page novel! And it was very traumatic! But also the best book I’ve ever read. It is genuinely a modern masterpiece. I feel like I lived these people’s lives, so it leaves you scarred, exhausted and drained. I tried to write a quick summary but nothing I wrote does it justice, so here’s the blurb.

“When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. 

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.” 

I definitely don’t think it’s a book for everyone or should be hailed as ‘required reading’. It’s incredibly dark and I would suggest looking up trigger warnings beforehand if that is something you normally do. But if you do read it, come and talk to me about it because it’s been four weeks and I’m still thinking about these characters. HOWEVER! Everyone I’ve spoken to about this bawled their eyes out multiple times, but I didn’t cry once when reading this, which is ridiculous and I think I need to run a computer diagnostic test on my emotions to see if I am okay. 6 stars out of 5. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I read this much-hyped novel before A Little Life and I enjoyed it! But I wonder if my opinion would be different if I read it after? At first I really disliked Eleanor but she fully grew on me throughout the novel, which was satisfying as I would have put it down half way if she didn’t. It’s not an action packed read and a lot of the progress is internal character building, so if that’s your thing you’ll like it. The writing style is also so unique to Eleanor and very her, so I’m curious to read another novel from Gail Honeyman to see how it would be different. Is it over-hyped? Yes and no. It is really good, but I think when a book is this hyped it can never truly match its high expectations. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in it. 4 stars out of 5 but it’s not a warm fuzzy novel that I’d read again. Here’s the blurb!

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life. Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This one is hot off the press as I finished it just last night. It deals with first love and first loss as the story begins with Lennie, whose lost her sister only a month prior, as she swiftly falls for the new boy in town. At times the descriptions of falling in love were a little over the top, but I’m fully accepting of that because it’s FIRST LOVE, PEOPLE. The descriptions of grief were incredible though and snuck up on you before knocking you over like a tonne of bricks. 4 out of 5 stars, would definitely read again. 

What I’ve Been Watching

Big Little Lies (Season 2)

Can we all take a moment to scream (but not like Mary Louise) about how darn INCREDIBLE this season is? I love this show so much, too much even. It’s just so wonderfully written. This is a very cringe and cliche remark but the characters are so ~perfectly imperfect~. People are making mistakes but you get why. All the women are complex because women! are! complex! All the perspectives on motherhood and womanhood are so varied, because they are! Give everyone in this show an Emmy, but especially Laura Dern. “I 👏🏼 will 👏🏼 not 👏🏼 not 👏🏼 be 👏🏼 rich.”

Chernobyl

Really, really, really amazing. One of those shows where everything is incredibly done – the acting, the scripting, the cinematography, the special effects, the score – but its all so subtle. It’s only four or five parts so I’d highly recommend giving it a go as you learn so much about such a devastating historical event which I knew very little about.

When They See Us

While BLL and Chernobyl are HBO shows that I’ve watched through Foxtel, you can find When They See Us on Netflix and I seriously recommend it. It’s only four parts and, while I’ve only seen the first part so far, it is exceptional. It’s based on the true story of how five black teenagers in America were wrongly accused of a crime in the 80s. It’s so harrowing and you can’t look away, and then you remember it’s all true and you just want to burst into tears. I’m not sure how old the actors playing the teenagers are but they’re all remarkable.

Stranger Things (Season 3)

On a lighter note, Stranger Things has come back recently and I love this third season so far. It’s all so beautiful? And so stylised? Like the colours are so saturated? And it’s Summertime? I want to literally frame certain frames of this season and hang them on my walls because they are just really bloody pleasing to look at. Visuals aside, this season has the gang (and their reluctant guardians) dealing with new issues like *dating* as well as supernatural business, so it’s a real interesting time.

What I’ve Been Listening To

Love, Etc – Look, I rarely step out of my podcast comfort zone which is 90% Race Chaser with Alaska and Willam and 10% Shameless. So when the Shameless hosts Zara and Michelle launched Love, Etc in collaboration with Bumble, I wasn’t fussed. I didn’t think I’d really enjoy a relationships podcast. But! In a very ironic way, I gave it a go and I’ve been really enjoying it! So, putting this here because it was nice to be proven wrong.

She’s On The Money – Again, all my allocated podcast time (aka: when I do my makeup) is dedicated to Race Chaser, but since the Shameless women are on such a roll and I enjoyed Love, Etc I thought I’d give their THIRD new podcast a go and again, really enjoying it so far! It’s hosted by Annabelle Lee and Victoria Divine, and while there are only two episodes so far, it’s really wise to get more discussions about money and saving going because if you can get into good habits while you’re young, it’ll only continue to benefit you.

What have you been reading, watching or listening to lately? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts and get new recommendations! Also don’t forget to give this post a ‘like’ if you enjoyed it!

Love, Jessica xo

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