Reading, Watching, Listening

I spent this whole semester talking to my students about podcasts and books and TV shows, and now classes are over and I’m holed up in my marking cave, I miss telling people about everything I’m reading and listening to. So this is serving two purposes: 1. I get to share, and 2. This is a great gap filler while I’m working on getting some new photos and fun content for when marking is done!


I’m not a big fan of writing traditional reviews (it’s where I got my first publications), but I love sharing and getting recommendations, so make sure you tell me what you’re reading, watching, and listening to too.

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been reading very much lately. It’s partly because of work and grading papers (it’s really hard to enjoy reading time when you have around 100 assignments sitting there to be graded), but also because I’m honestly not loving the book I’m reading.

When I was in Hervey Bay at Easter time, I spent the entire time there either working on cosplays or reading. I burned through about four books (thank goodness for e-readers). The last book I bought was Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones and there I have stagnated for two months.

Lots of people love this book, and you might too. But for me I’m finding it unbalanced: the voice is great, but it doesn’t read like a 14-year-old to me (and I read a lot of child and teenage-perspectived books); there are lots of adverbs (a pet peeve of the creative writing tutor); and the backstory feels clunky — it’s not woven through as smoothly as I think it could be.

I’m nothing if not a completist though and will persevere until the end very soon, because I have Anna Spargo-Ryan’s newest book The Gulf staring at me from my bedside table.

Not By Accident

I am a huge podcast fan (I loved them before Serial) and I do a lot of long distance driving, so I like to keep my queue completely full. Every time there’s an ad or a preview of a new, show, I get really excited to add something to my queue.

Not By Accident  was previewed on Millennial a few weeks ago and I actually pulled over while driving to make sure I subscribed. It’s a serialised documentary podcast from an Australian woman, Sophie Harper, about choosing to become a single mother, not by accident, but by choice.

To reveal a pretty personal fact about myself in one line, this is relevant to my future interests, so I jumped straight in. I love the raw, honest, diary-like intimacy that Sophie speaks with about her experience from insemination, to making choices about her work and living situation in the months before her daughter is born. I appreciate the detail that she goes into and I think others in my position would too. I’m taking this one easy and am only up to around episode four, because I like to sit with whatever Sophie’s spoken about in each episode and think about what I might do in her situation.

It’s not for everyone that’s for sure, but what I love the most about podcasts is that they’re often windows into people’s lives and experiences outside of my own and Not by Accident is a really intimate window.

Girls (season one)

I spent the better part of the last week staying with my parents and watching their Foxtel, which meant I binge watched things I can’t binge watch on Stan or Netflix when I’m at home.

I couldn’t remember which season I’d seen last, so I started at the beginning. I’m not so sure it was a good idea.

In the time since the first season aired, I have developed a bit of an aversion to Lena Dunham; not a rage on the Internet about her body or success or horrible things like that sort of dislike. It was more that I listened to her Women of the Hour podcast and while I love the concept of celebrating women, the second season felt different. Sponsorship and product placement became an overt part of the content (we all accept there’s got to be advertising in podcasts, but when sponsored content becomes product placement, it all feels a bit fake), and I felt like it was heading down the ‘here I am sharing all my celebrity friends and name-dropping’ path so I gave up and also decided I had had enough of Lena.

When I got back into Girls this week, I realised that my aversion is actually because I’ve crossed into my mid-thirties and am therefore in a place where I can’t tolerate the drama of being a twenty-something anymore. I’m a prickly old lady who kind of agrees with Hannah’s parents about the fact that they cut her off financially.

The stuff that gets me in that first season though is how much crap Hannah puts up with from Adam. Save the being unemployed factor, I was a lot like Hannah in my early twenties. I thought that I had to change myself to please the guys that I was dating. I pretended to be cool with shitty guy stuff and I pretended I was okay with my body, but secretly, every comment about it that anyone made sent me into downward spirals.

But overall, yeah, it made me realise that I’m glad my twenties are over, and that despite not often feeling like a real grown-up, I have much more grown-up priorities these days (the ‘listening’ section is case in point there).


So, what are you guys watching? Do you love podcasts? What book should I read when I get out of my marking haze?

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