Read/Watch/Listen: August 2019

Goodbye summer! Summer reading, summer movies, songs of the summer. Here’s a recap of what I read, watched, and listened to in August.

Read

A Different Drummer, William Melvin Kelley (1964)

Got it for the Thoreau reference in the title, and it ended up being way more memorable and engaging than I expected. About a fictional town in the Southern US where the entire black population leaves one day, I loved the experimental narration, including journal entries and switching points-of-view. Time for this to be taught in English classes alongside or instead of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney (2017)

For a book centered around two queer women friends, I was expecting more queer conversations/tension/love/etc. Instead it largely focuses on an affair the protagonist has with a married man. Great dialogue, compelling characters, and refreshingly millennial and original. Just a lot more hetero sex than I was interested in reading.

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jonny Sun (2018)

Cute motivational verses for the morning and night, accompanied by fun illustrations by Jonny Sun. I really like Sun’s simple, lighthearted drawing style. Gave me Shel Silverstein vibes, which is maybe why I found myself wishing that the whole book rhymed, not just the intro.

Watched

Lion King (2019)

In the circleeeee, the circle of life! I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about “real” talking lions, but I loved this. It was very true to the original animation, and the slight changes to characters (like Scar) I think worked well. Timon and Zazu were my favorites. And baby Simba was just so darn cute!

The Favourite (2018)

Okay, that was probably the strangest ending to a movie I’ve seen in a while. Those rabbits. Hmm. I was into this movie, and then it kept getting weirder and weirder. Once I learned it was by the same director who did The Lobster, it made a little more sense as to why it went off in such a strange direction.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

The drama! The injustice! The emotions! The 1970s fashion! This is a beautiful and necessary movie that’s tough to watch without getting angry and sad. It doesn’t have a happy ending.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

This is one of those films that I’m not sure stands the test of time? A bunch of rich white boys learn to “carpe diem” and follow their artistic passions. I expected more.

TV-watching this month was random and inconsistent. I watched a couple episodes of Season 2 of Fleabag, but I love it so much, I want to savor it. I also watched a bit of MTV reality dating show Are You the One? because it has an all queer cast. I didn’t think I liked dating shows. Turns out I just don’t like hetero ones. Can we please have a queer Bachelor or Bachelorette now?

I tried an episode of Amazon’s The Boys, but it was just too graphic, even though I only hear good things about it. All previous seasons of Ru Paul’s Drag Race is on Amazon Video right now — halleloo! — and so I’ve been watching episodes from Season 3 and 5 that I’ve never seen. Lastly, I watched part of the MTV VMAs and caught up on all the performances later. Lizzo was my favorite.

Listened

Untitled Dad Project

I’ve been looking for a good writing podcast, and I accidentally found it in this podcast from Spoke Media. Host Janielle Kastner processes grief over her dad’s death by imagining her life as a story. Through that, she explores the craft of plot, character development, inciting incidents, all that storytelling stuff. She even interviews storytelling legend Robert McKee. Some of the conversations are awkward and hard to listen to, but it’s worth it.

“Kraftland,” Invisibilia

I miss Invisibilia and can’t wait for the next season. This episode I believe was a teaser of what’s to come. It was about a man who obsessively collected Disneyland memorabilia, possibly as a way of avoiding his grief, and ultimately auctioned it all away.

“Jia Tolentino On Feminism, Ecstasy & The Internet,” Fresh Air

I hadn’t heard of Jia Tolentino, staff writer for the New Yorker. She appeared on at least a couple NPR podcasts this month, coinciding with the release of her book of essays Trick Mirror.

1980s New Wave

Maybe it’s me craving more Stranger Things, but I found myself listening to 80s New Wave this month for some reason. In particular my favorite songs have been “Age of Consent” by New Order and “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat (coincidentally from their album also titled Age of Consent). To discover more songs, I’ve been listening to the Is It New Wave? Spotify playlist.