March 2019 Media Consumption Round-Up

 

This one’s a little late, but I’m hoping to do one of these each month from now. As you can see from below, this has been a very reading-heavy month. That’s a good thing since reading is always the thing I want to do the most of (followed by watching films and listening to music). The London Library’s really opened up a whole world of wonderful books to read.

Books

Round the Fire Stories

I wrote a review of Doyle’s short stories (minus Holmes) here.

The New Testament: A Translation

I also read The New Testament this month. It’s a weird collection of books (the ones left out are weirder, however). I wrote about it here.

Nicholas Nickleby

This is not one of my favourite Dickens novels, but neither is it terrible. I wrote about it here.

Charles Bukowski

This is the biography of Bukowski by David Stephen Calonne. It’s workmanlike rather than inspiring, but gives a certain insight into an intriguing (and often rather problematic) poet.

The Waste Land and Other Poems

If you’ve read any selection of my posts recently, you’ll have noted that quite a lot of them come back to this poem one way or another. I wrote about it here.

The Cambridge Companion to The Waste Land

As above. This was one of my first Cambridge Companion books, though, and I really enjoyed it. The fact it’s just a series of essays on the subject at hand makes it easy to dip in and out of. My suspicion is that they’re mainly written for undergraduates to be able to quote at least 3-4 essays in anything they’re writing without having to read many books, but all I’ve found so far have had high-quality essays from multiple viewpoints.

Apollo

A comic on the Apollo moon landings. I wrote about it here.

From Ritual To Romance

Mentioned in Eliot’s notes to The Waste Land, I wrote about it here.

TS Eliot and the Lay Reader

A rather idiosyncratic, but enjoyable view on all of Eliot’s writing. I wrote about it here.

Guns, Germs and Steel

When I read this I assumed it was relatively recent, but in fact it’s about 20 years old. Basically, it’s a broad sweep of human history showing how the particular features of various human groups owes a great deal to their geography.

It’s A Don’s Life

I’ve been reading a fair amount of Mary Beard recently. This is just a collection of posts from her excellent It’s A Don’s Life blog, but if you’ve never really read it before (as I hadn’t) this is a good place to start.

Four Quartets

More Eliot. These are essentially the last four poems he wrote (before moving on to verse plays that I find less satisfying). They’re beautiful and intricate philosophical reflections on time and being and reward multiple re-readings. I also enjoyed Ralph Fiennes’s reading of them on Audible.

The Cambridge Companion to T.S. Eliot

I think of the two, this broader look at Eliot’s career is more enjoyable than the Cambridge Companion just to the Waste Land.

Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough

This is Wittgenstein’s take on Frazer’s Golden Bough and I wrote about it here.

I Capture the Castle

I’d heard various people say this was their favourite novel, so I thought I should see what I made of it. It’s lovely, and I suspect if I was a bit younger when I first read it, it might of been one of my favourites too.

The Power of Art

Simon Schama’s book to accompany the TV series of a few years ago. As with a lot Schama’s other works, it’s full of bold assertions about the inner motivations of its key players, but it’s a style I enjoy and his passion for the art in question is clearly deep.

Crome Yellow

Aldous Huxley’s debut that I wrote about here.

Women & Power: A Manifesto

More Mary Beard, I wrote about this one here.

How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy

A book by Julian Baggini trying to right the wrong that western philosophy departments thinks there’s no thinking going on outside the west. It’s a very commendable attempt, but I rarely found it hugely illuminating or exciting. I hope many more follow in his footsteps, however.

Films

The Kindergarten Teacher

A strange, but haunting film. I wrote about it here.

Everybody Knows

A compelling thriller with excellent central performances. Returning home for a wedding, a family explore old wounds and jealousies.

Us

Part horror, part social commentary, all excellent. I wrote about it here.

Music

Shura

When I first discovered Shura’s electro-pop I thought she was a new artist. In fact, the English singer been releasing records for a few years. Her album from 2016, Nothing’s Real is great, as is her new single, BKLYNLDN. I recommend trying out What’s It Gonna Be and 2Shy.

Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom

Allison Miller’s is an outstanding drummer. Often drummer-led albums can be rather niche and tedious. This album certainly leads on rhythm, and showcases Miller’s talent, but it’s full of great tunes.

LCD Soundsystem Electric Lady Sessions

LCD Soundsystem in their live-band format perform hits mostly from the last album, but a few others too. Added to that, the cover of Chic’s I Want Your Love is joyous.

The National

There’s a new album brewing, coming in May, the singles You Had Your Soul With You and Light Years bode well (the latter has a particularly good video).

Helado Negro

I’ve really enjoyed Running by Helado Negro. Haven’t listened through the album yet, but it’s on the list.

Podcasts

Broken Record

Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin’s series interviewing people in the music industry has started a new series. The episodes interviewing Questlove and David Byrne are two of the best music-related podcasts in the last year.

Brady Heywood Podcast on Apollo 13

I wrote about this excellent series on what went wrong with Apollo 13 here.

TV

Queer Eye

I don’t have many ground-breaking TV recommendations because I haven’t been watching it much, but Queer Eye remains one of the best pieces of reality TV ever made. High quality, touching and genuinely heartwarming.

This Time with Alan Partridge

On the other end of the scale, this is some of the most excruciating TV you can watch. It’s laser-guided uncomfortableness.

(Photo by Pinho . on Unsplash)

The Brady Heywood Podcast on Apollo 13

The Apollo programme seems like a good antidote to the politics of today. Putting aside the important facts that it was a show of strength against the USSR, and as a product of its time, it excluded (or failed to recognise) women and people of colour, it is still a major achievement of people working together for a common, peaceful goal.

The new podcast series that Brady Heywood has put together outlining NASA’s response to the problems of Apollo 13 really sets out the achievements of those who not only launched the crew into space, but also against all odds, managed to get them safely back to earth. Brady Heywood is a forensic engineering firm, and although Sean Brady doesn’t shy away from many of the technical details, this is perfectly understandable for the layperson. All technical aspects are clearly explained, and since it’s a story in which much of the tension derives from engineering issues, having an expert guide you through the story is very useful.

Those who have seen the film Apollo 13 will have a rough idea of the story, but I have to say that I found Brady more engaging and exciting than the (excellent) Ron Howard film. He captures the peril, the ambiguity, and thus the achievements of the team that managed to bring the crew back to earth safely and the end result is genuinely moving.

You can find parts one, two, three, four and five here, and subscribe on iTunes here.