I’ve noticed a lot of blogs I follow do “things I’m into this month” and I really like that idea. It’s a nice way to update my faraway friends and family of the things that I’m thinking and obsessing over, plus I like the idea of keeping track of what I read and watch. So here’s what I’ve been into for the month of September! (I envision this as a series on how I’ll wrap up my months, which is why I’m posting this at the beginning of October–also my brain still thinks it’s September)
Things I’m Reading:
- 1984 by George Orwell. I read this book in high school and while I appreciate how it solidified the dystopian genre, I get awfully tired of Winston’s whining. Animal Farm was much better. But at least it inspired an awesome David Bowie song. And of course, much of the dystopian literature I actually like wouldn’t exist without it. So I’ll give it that at least.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Another book I read in high school! (I’ve been rereading these books for my Dystopian Literature class). I actually like this one a lot more than 1984. It makes no apologies for how reprehensible all of the characters are, while I’m pretty sure Orwell wants us to like Winston.
- Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I read this for my “Reproduction in Science Fiction” class and enjoyed the hell out of it. It was so funny! And amazingly progressive, considering it was written in 1915. It also has its darker themes running through and the ending is wholly unsatisfying–although there is apparently a sequel that I will be checking out.
- Yet One More Spring by Don King. A comprehensive and academic analysis of Joy Davidman’s complete bibliography. Thorough and insightful, I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s best read with King’s compilation of Davidman’s poems (A Naked Tree) nearby for reference.
- Girl At the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther. I’d come across Elizabeth Esther in the blogosphere about a year ago and I’ve wanted to read her memoir for a while now. She talks about growing up in a Christian fundamentalist cult and her childhood is both heartbreaking and touching. She is raw and honest with her story and I highly recommend this book.
- Living History by Hillary Clinton. I knew I hated Hillary Clinton before I knew I loved Jesus. The Hillary Hate was very strong in my family and it took me years and years to figure out why. Nowadays, it’s taken even longer to unpack what I’ve been told and what is truthful. (In case my family is reading this, no, I don’t think Hillary Clinton is a Blessed Fairy Being sent to deliver the Good News of Communism to the American people but I don’t think she’s the whore of Satan either. She’s a politician who’s done shitty things and done really good things.) Anway, my baby brother got this for my birthday and I’m really excited to tear through it. I’ve noticed some startling connections between her early life and my own–Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only bossy little girl from the midwest, eager to please her conservative father and prove herself through grit and intelligence.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Maragaret Atwood. I read this book when I was 16 and I scoffed, thinking that it was unrealistic. Rereading it ten years later is eye opening and a little frightening–there’s so much I didn’t catch and even more I didn’t realize is still going on. Not to mention, her writing is so beautiful. There are so many lines that stick in my brain. Atwood is able to convey images with poetic clarity–“the magazine riffled in the flames”, the effortless flowing between present and past, not an easy feat for a writer. But Atwood pulls it off seamlessly.
Things I’m Watching
- Steven Universe. This little cartoon is phenomenal. I’m a firm believer in C.S. Lewis’ comment that “a children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest” and I think the same applies to films and television too. Steven Universe is a little hard to explain–it’s basically about a boy who is being raised by three female aliens, how he navigates life, and discovers his own magical powers. (He is part alien) But the show touches on really mature concepts like consent, mental illness, sex, boundaries, unhealthy and healthy relationships, music, peaceful resolution to conflict–without being overly graphic and disturbing. It’s one of the few shows that I genuinely don’t have any criticisms towards the stories or characters, it’s just so well-crafted and consistent. Many of the episodes (which are only ten minutes long, so you really ought to watch) have really fun (and very deep) music too. If you’re a manga or anime fan, there’s a lot of tributes and allusions to appreciate as well.
- Law & Order: SVU. I don’t have an answer for why I’ve become a little obsessed with this show, especially since I don’t ordinarily watch procedural crime shows. Maybe it’s because they’ve had most of the cast of Hamilton guest star on recent episodes. (Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., Renee Elise Goldsberry, Anthony Ramos) Maybe it’s because I’m a little in love with Raul Esparza who plays the snazzily dressed ADA. Or maybe it’s just nice to have a show where the writing hasn’t tanked severely after 18 seasons. Who knows? In any case, it’s a great show to watch while doing laundry.
- Penny Dreadful. This is a darker one. I started watching this after my roommate recommended it to me and it is great, if you enjoy darker content and plenty of literary allusions. It’s very much like “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, but handled with a a lot of heaviness and with characters that are a little closer to their literary counterparts. Victor Frankenstein, Mina Harker, Frankenstein’s creature, Dorian Gray, Dracula–just to name a few. It’s a lot of fun and very reminiscent of–well, penny dreadfuls! I will warn you, the show is not for the faint of heart. It has a lot of swearing, a lot of graphic sex scenes, and quite a bit of gore. But it’s superbly written and excellently acted.
Things I’m Listening To:
- Steven Universe. Wait, what? No, seriously. This TV show has really good music, in-universe songs that are simple and powerful. Like “Here Comes A Thought”, which is a song about dealing with anxiety attacks, depressive episodes–basically any mental illness. “Here comes a thought, that might alarm me, what someone said, and how it harmed me something I did, that failed to be charming, things that I said are suddenly swarming/And oh, I’m losing sight, I’m losing touch…all these little things seem to matter so much, that they confuse me…that I might lose me…” Or a song about heartbreak–“Who am I now in this world without her, petty and dull with the nerve to doubt her/What does it matter, it’s already done, now I’ve got to be there for her son! It’s over, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it over? You’ve won and she chose you and she loved you and she’s gone…it’s over isn’t it? Why can’t I move on?” Or a song about reconciliation: “You might not believe it, you might not believe it, but you’ve got a lot in common, you really do…you both love me and I love both of you/I know you both need it, I know you both need it, someone who knows what you’re going through…” Or a song talking about the strength of a healthy relationship: “This is who we are, this is who I am, and if you think you can stop me, then you need to think again…because I am a feeling and I will never end, and I won’t let you hurt my planet and I won’t let you hurt my friends/Go ahead and try to hit me if you’re able, can’t you see that my relationship stable?/I know you think that I’m not something that you’re afraid of, ‘cuz you think that you see what I’m made of, but I am even more than the two of them/Everything they care about is who I am, I am their fury, I am their patience, I am their conversation…I am made of LOVE!” I realize this is a lengthy summation, but that’s just because the music is that good. Check it out.
- The operas Aida and Lakme. My mommy got this for my birthday on vinyl. They are both incredibly haunting.
See you next month!