What I Read and Watched in September

philosophize this
Books:

Comics: 

Movies: 

TV:

Podcasts:

Thoughts & reflections:

  • So happy to have found the Philosophize This! podcast. I’m only 3 or 4 years behind, but I’m catching up and learning lots.
  • Also happy that Transparent is back! Season 4 wasn’t my favorite, but still compelling and certainly worth watching.
  • Frances Ha might be my most favorite movie I’ve seen so far this year, which is a pleasant surprise considering this year hasn’t been much for movie-watching.
  • It looks like I didn’t read much, but the majority of my reading time went into a 500+ page historical nonfiction tome that I didn’t quite finish in time for October. I’ll save it for next month’s log.

Ideas for next month: 

  • October is a busy month, but I’m going on a week-long “unplug” vacation which means lots of writing and reading. Can’t wait.
  • I might make a rare trip to the movie theater to see the Blade Runner sequel. Also can’t wait.
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What I Read and Watched in August

Books:

Movies: 

TV:

Podcasts:

Thoughts & reflections:

  • I can’t even attempt to find a common thread between the media I consumed this past month. I was all over the place — hilariously so. I’ll call it an exploratory month.
  • My addiction to podcasts is deepening. Oh no, or oh yay? I’m so happy that Nancy is back, and I’m also enjoying Cameron Esposito’s new Queery podcast. Between those and some Adrienne Rich in the mix, I think I got my queer fix this month.
  • Because of my writing project, I didn’t allow myself many chances to chill and watch TV or movies. Everything I watched I watched with company. I’ve mentioned this in past media logs, but I’m appreciating movies more as shared media experiences, especially since reading and writing are such solitary activities.
  • I waited literally one year for Diary of an Oxygen Thief to come in at the library.  One year. And it was not worth the wait. So not worth the wait, it was like a cruel practical joke. Top 10 worst books I’ve ever read.
  • But August, overall, was a reminder that it’s okay to spend time consuming media that you just don’t like. Sure, life’s too short, blah blah, but I say that knowing what you don’t like is just about as important as knowing what you do like. It’s even more important not to assume any piece of media will fall into either category based on genre, popularity, etc.. Like Diary of an Oxygen Thief — I thought I’d like it. Wrong. It Follows? Randomly loved it, even though I’m not a horror buff.

Ideas for next month: 

  • I’m already falling in love with 2 other podcasts and it’s only September 5. This is a problem. I’m becoming that person who always starts sentences with “So I was listening to this podcast…” and I don’t know if I’m ready to be that person yet.
  • I want to mix in at least at least a little nonfiction this month.

What I Read and Watched in July

Finally giving the blog a long-overdue facelift for summer. Fresh design. New mobile-responsive theme. Phew! It’s not exactly how I want it yet, but it’s at least a start. Feelin’ good.

Books:

Comics / Graphic:

Movies: 

TV:

Podcasts:

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Guess who’s back on track. Moi! Slayed my media goals for the month and then some. It’s amazing how much I can read and watch when I’m in-between writing projects. I’ve also tweaked my daily schedule to incorporate more reading time in the mornings, and it’s made a difference.
  • I should really change the name of these media logs to “What I Read, Watched, and Listened to in [Month].” I’ve fallen in love with podcasts and have come to depend on them for news and general interestingness. I’ve made the executive decision to only list podcasts in the log that I listen to with regularly — as in, I try to keep up with the latest episodes — and not count the one-off shows, which there were quite a few of this month.
  • I got to experience the strangeness of putting a face to a podcast voice when, somewhat by chance, I saw Christopher Lydon speak at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering in Concord, MA. Which, by the way, was an overall wonderful and weird experience.
  • I went to a movie theater! Woah! It’s been months! I’m using the term “movie theater” loosely. Community theater? A performance stage that also has a screen? Whatever to call it, Obit. was followed up by a panel discussion, which I think should come with all feature films. It was refreshing to watch a film with others in a public space. There’s something special about it shared media experiences.
  • How had I never seen Matilda before? I mean, really. How? I loved it! Ghost, not so much. It was worth the watch just to understand all the cultural references that come from it, though. Also I think it’s funny that 2 of the 3 movies I watched this month are titled Ghost and Obit.

Ideas for next month:

  • My July “summer break” was refreshing, but now I’m diving into another writing project. A new draft of the same writing project, I should say. My goal now is to keep defending my reading time in the morning and evenings, balancing input and output in a routine that makes me happy. Or at least satisfied.
  • I’m craving a good queer read. Too much heteronormativity in my media lately. I miss Nancy and RPDR.

What I Read and Watched in June

BOOKS:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Nancy (s1)
  • NPR’s Up First
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • Invisibilia (S3)

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Soooo I had a busy month. And it was a great month, so I’m not even going to feel bad about the few books I read and the zero movies I watched. Some months are more output than input, and I put out this June. Oh… what? I mean that I finished draft two of a major writing project. What did you think I meant?
  • Invisibiliaaaaaahhh! Why was this season so short? I should’ve savored it! Still my favorite podcast. Filled me up with so many ideas and “did you know?’s” to share.
  • Yeah, basically all June I kept catching myself saying, “So I was listening to this podcast…” Because I’m that person now, apparently. But really, they give me so much joy. I’m so sad that season 1 of Nancy is over now, also. Too soon!
  • What’s more intense — RPDR or OITNB? Ah! They both leave me exhausted! But I loved following Drag Race up until the finale.

Ideas for next month:

  • I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back into a regular reading routine. And it’s a good thing I have a pile of books in my “to read” pile. I’m all set for summer.

What I Read and Watched in April

s-town-podcast

BOOKS:

COMICS/GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour 
  • S-Town

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Very rarely do I find a show I want to binge on, but this month I did. S-Town. Wow, I devoured it within a week. With such compelling storytelling, I couldn’t help myself, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. S-Town is a rare gem, and hands down the best podcast series I’ve listened to.
  • Speaking of great storytelling, I finally finished The Stand. It was a multi-month process with many breaks in between. Though not my favorite King novel, I can see why it’s classic.
  • Oh, and March? Incredible. This whole month was just packed with phenomenal stories! This graphic novel series, Books 1 – 3, should be required reading. I learned so much about the civil rights movement of the 1960s — about important people, milestones, and setbacks. That it’s told through John Lewis’ perspective and experience adds so much depth and intimacy to the series as well.
  • Without cable, it’s been years since I’ve followed a show as it was airing weekly. But Drag Race is so worth it. My Friday night joy.

Ideas for next month: 

  • Follow whims. Keep seeking out great stories.

What I Read and Watched In March

philosophy_big_questions

BOOKS:

MOVIES:

TV:

Thoughts & reflections:

  • I finally took the time to dig into some philosophy fundamentals, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. These aren’t breezy reads. I’m also half-way through a Ralph Waldo Emerson collection. I’m taking my time with some of this stuff, taking notes, studying, absorbing. That equals less books finished this month, but I can’t complain.
  • I didn’t watch much this month either, but Tickled was one of the wildest documentaries I’ve ever seen. And Chewing Gum was refreshingly weird.
  • What was the last non-documentary film I’ve watched? It’s been a while.
  • My media success of the month was discovering how to watch live streaming TV without cable. Specifically, how to watch the premier of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. I can stream live from the VH1 website! So excited! I wonder if there are other channels I can do this with?
  • I was sick through some of March, which meant more sleeping and overall less reading, watching, doing, being…

Ideas for next month: 

  • I’m contemplating moving this blog onto another platform, if I can find the time.
  • Often, when I find pockets of time to watch something, I’m struck with decision fatigue, and I just don’t watch anything. I’m thinking on what I can do about this. I was using the National Film Registry as my curated list of films to watch, but it’s become daunting, and many of the movies aren’t available on my streaming services. Hmm.

What I Read and Watched in January

san_junipeiro2

BOOKS:

COMICS/GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Emily Dickinson and Boogie Nights. Wow, what a weird month. How the hell did this happen?
  • See all those 2016s? I intentionally consumed some contemporary popular media this month. Soon it will be 2017s. I’d like to do a better job at keeping up with current popular fiction, at the very least.
  • I normally only list TV shows if I watch a full season of something, but the San Junipero episode of “Black Mirror” is quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever watched in my life, so I had to include it. I watched it twice this month, in fact. Hit me right in the feels both times. I’ve been hesitant to watch “Black Mirror” because I hear it’s so disturbing and depressing, and after attempting to watch a second traumatic episode, I now understand. This particular episode is a gem though.
  • I didn’t write a post about my 2017 media goals like I had intended, so I’ll just summarize that I’m aiming for an average of 1 movie a week, and at least 5 books a month, including graphic novels and trade paperbacks. I’m cutting back on the book goal from last year because I’m not reading so many comics lately. Who knows, maybe sometimes this year I’ll find a complete series to devour, but for now, I’m not going to pressure myself. So, in sum, I made my goal this month. Hurray!

Ideas for next month: 

  • I’m ankle-deep in a writing endeavor that is already consuming a lot of my time this year. So my goal is to read books that keep me page-turnin’ and to consume compelling stories. I’ve begun scheduling time specifically for reading, and I hope to continue the habit.

My Favorite Books and Media of 2016

In 2016, I read 80 books, including graphic novels and comics, and watched 40 movies and TV series, combined. I’d say those are good even numbers, even if I didn’t hit my targets. And after all, it’s about quality, not quantity, right? And I read and watched some great stuff this year. Here are my top picks for 2016!

TOP BOOKS

flowers for algernonFlowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes, 1958
I picked this up out of a pile of books going into a yard sale. Maybe it was my lack of expectations, but this book just floored me. It happened to contain some of my favorite elements in a novel — an unreliable narrator, psychological twists, unconventional storytelling (it’s written as a journal), and an openness for interpretation. Amazing.

MiddlesexMiddlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002
Epic story and glorious, glorious narration. Damn. This novel was perfect to me, and for me this year, particularly. Its hefty scope kept me from tackling it for awhile, but it was well worth my patience. A book about personal history, identity and transition — with the level of strangeness I adore.


please kill mePlease Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
, Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain, 1996
I’m no punk rock connoisseur, or even much of music history buff, but this book was downright fascinating. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a compilation of interviews with folks who lived the borderline-unbelievable history. Even if it weren’t all true, it would still be an engaging story.

rubyfruit jungleRubyfruit Jungle, Rita Mae Brown, 1973 
The tagline — “A novel about being different and loving it” — didn’t exactly sell me (feel-good stories don’t seem to do it for me). So I was relieved to discover that this coming-out classic is the right, refreshing balance of pessimism and confidence for me. The positive, negative.

between the world and me

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015
This should be required reading for everyone. Period.

 

 


TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS

wicked and divineThe Wicked + The Divine, Kieron Gillen
For the second year in a row, WicDiv continues to be my favorite. The colors! The characters! Ahh so delicious I just want to eat the pages. Nom.

 

sagaSaga, Brian K. Vaughan
This is another continued favorite. Always inventive and unexpected. Truly a “saga” I can’t get sick of.

 

 

paper girlsPaper Girls, Brian K. Vaughan, 2016
Dang, is there any series I don’t like Brian K. Vaughan? He’s the comic storytelling master, though I have to say the art really hooked me here. Plus, the writing is just a little too adult for kids, a little to kiddish for adults, which is exactly my sweet spot.

ghost worldGhost World, Daniel Clowes, 1998
I read this because it’s the basis of the best movie I watched this year (spoiler alert for section below). The graphic novel was different from the movie in many ways, but I still loved it on its own.

 

TOP MOVIES & TV 

transparentTransparent (S1 – 3)
It’s like this show was made for me, so much so, that it’s a little disturbing. Not only is it my favorite show of this year, it’s my favorite show of all-time. I’m not much a TV-watcher or a binge-water, but I binged-watched Transparent with no regrets. Beautiful.

ghost worldGhost World
I put this movie on just to test out my Amazon Kindle Fire Stick, and it wound up being the best movie I saw in 2016. It was odd in all the right ways, featuring underrepresented female friendships and unlikely relationships.

 

the graduateThe Graduate
Timeless. The ending scene of runaway Ben and Elaine in the bus, their smiles turning solemn, must be one of the greatest all-time movie moments.  (Side note: this film kicked off a Simon & Garfunkle listening binge that I still can’t totally explain).

stranger thingsStranger Things
Come on, it’s a given. Stranger Things basically defined my summer of 2016, as it did for many. It was the reason I finally got Netflix. Just fantastic.

 

star warsStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Another given. Do I even need to explain why this is on my list?

 

 


TOP PODCASTS 

Invisibilia
Why does this podcast about human behavior resonate with me so strongly? I bet there could be a whole Invisibilia episode dedicated to the psychological forces that drive me to be in love with this show. Maybe that’ll be in the next season, which I can’t wait for.

Pop Culture Happy Hour
One of my goals this year was to be more in-tune with current popular media, and this podcast helped me do just that, while also entertaining me and giving me leads to shows, movies, and other media I might like.

TED Radio Hour
This podcast just fills my emptiness between Invisbilia seasons, to be honest. But it’s fascinating nonetheless. I actually prefer it to traditional TED Talks, because the episodes string together multiple ideas around a single topic.

2016 IN SUMMARY 

2016 was the year I embraced television beyond cartoons, watching shows like Transparent, Stranger Things, and even Breaking Bad (like, 8 years behind, I know). This filled a hole in my movie-watching pursuits, which have fallen to the wayside a bit, in part because of the unanticipated lack of good movie theaters near my town.

In terms of books, I tackled some hefty classics — like One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Sound and the Fury. Some were more rewarding than others. I also intentionally tried to read more books from diverse authors, and also incorporated more nonfiction and poetry into my reading.

This was the first year in awhile that I was unable to find a completed comic series to dive into and devour start-to-finish. Last year was  Y: The Last Man, which I think may have just set the bar too high. Also, most of the graphic novels I read were just mediocre. So I’m concluding 2016 being a bit discouraged about my graphic novels and comics, but that’s okay.

In conclusion, I used this year to reconnect with the current media landscape, consuming more new releases in books, comics, movies, and TV than I normally do. The hipster in me rolls her eyes at staying current, but the practical me appreciates the value more than ever. Watching the latest shows with others and being able to talk about new books and movies is important, because media is connective. As corny as it sounds, media consumption isn’t just personal, it’s interpersonal. And that’s my grand media lesson for 2016.

Onward to 2017!

What I Read and Watched in December

clockwork_orange

Better late than never.

BOOKS:

MOVIES:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • My media log is a reflection of my month. Not much time for reading, but plenty of movie-watching thanks to Christmas crafting and such (I like to have something on in the background while I sew/crochet/etc.).
  • I’m glad my reading for 2016 concluded with some philosophy (Zen) and queer history. And Salinger, of course.
  • I went to the movie theater only 4 times this year, and 2 of those times was to see a Star Wars film — Force Awakens  and Rogue One. Star Wars movies are like the bookends to my year.
  • Ah, I finally watched A Clockwork Orange. I’ve held out so long because it’s one of my all-time favorite books. Kubrick’s film adaptation is so ubiquitous in pop culture, I felt as if I’d already watched it before.
  • I’m slowly learning how to just “put something on” Netflix. I waste so much time deciding what to watch, and then some of my favorite films this year have been whims. The documentaries this month were especially thought-provoking.

Ideas for next month: 

  • Thinking on my 2017 media resolutions!

What I Read and Watched in November

thereaddunces

BOOKS:

COMICS / GRAPHIC:

MOVIES:

TV:

PODCASTS:

  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • TED Radio Hour

Thoughts & reflections:

  • Moooooovies! I’m watching them again! How, why? Two words: Netflix Originals. Not quite indie, not quite mainstream, Netflix seems to produce some documentaries and dramas that fall in my niche of interest. My Beautiful Broken Brain was especially fascinating.
  • I happened to read family-centered fiction this month. That was an accident. The Jones of White Teeth, the Blochs of Here I Am, and of course Ignatius and his mother. A lot of complex relationships to digest (and laugh about).
  • I read some hefty books this month. Still, I’m reading less than I would like. I’m going to have to go back to carving out and defending reading time.
  • I had no idea Good Will Hunting was set in Boston before watching it. So yes, half the movie I spent going, “Ohhh he’s riding the Red Line!” and such. I should have known — it has Matt Damon in it. Seems like he’s always either in Boston or in outer space.

Ideas for next month: 

  • Just trying to find time for reading/writing during this busy holiday season! Ah!