As my millions of readers, (very few readers) may have noticed, there was no blog last week. I could blame this on the fact that 13 is an unlucky number. I could blame it on my horoscope, but I’ll refrain and save that for another time (hangover) in the future.
The real reason there was no blog post last week was because I was extremely tired and needed to nap. I view the blog as a space that should be fun and relaxing, so in the absence of anything to say. I didn’t want to force it.
This week, I want to share the content that has been making me think, laugh and cry throughout May. The longer lockdown goes on, the more time we have for engaging with as many books, podcasts and telly as our hearts desire. That is one of the few things I do enjoy about this strange and often lonely time for a lot of us.
I hope that my recommendations can help to fill the void of normal life, if only a little. Here we go.
Exciting Times – 3.7/5
Exciting Times is a much acclaimed book by Irish writer, Naoise Dolan. Exciting Times deserves the hype. It is raw, real and often confronting. The book traces the journey of a woman in her early twenties, as she navigates a very different life in Hong Kong. My favourite thing about Exciting Times is that it’s poetic yet cynical. It’s beautifully written but it’s not hard to navigate. I like the fact that bisexuality is represented (because I have yet to come across that many protagonists that are overtly bi) and I love the stream of consciousness that exists around realising that you have a crush on someone (all-consuming and often overwhelming). Even though, it’s almost impossible to like a character who despises themselves so much, you find that you can’t help but root for Ava on her journey to some semblance of self-actualization. Lots of people say that this book is Sally Rooney-esque but I think it deserves its own category.
Three Women – 4.1/5
Three Women is the sort of book that is never going to get dated because it trades in universal issues that are unlikely to ever cease to exist, such as intimacy, desire, monogamy, sexual abuse, emotional health and romantic relationships. Three Women is special because it brings you into the minds of three very different women, Maggie, Lina and Sloane, over the course of eight years. What makes the book so visceral is the fact that all of these stories are true. Lisa Taddeo’s eight years of work has amounted to nothing less than a masterpiece. It is almost impossible to put it down and leaves you with insights, you never knew you needed.
This Is Going To Hurt – 4.2/5
This Is Going To Hurt is a book filled with diary entries from a Junior Doctor. I was very late to the party on this one. As soon as I picked the book up, I couldn’t put it down. This Is Going To Hurt has been the cause of much puffiness under my eyes from the four consecutive late nights of just “one more page”. If the book was relevant when it was written (which boy, it was), it is now more relevant than ever, in the fact that we, the readers gain a real insight into what it is like to work in the public healthcare system – a real shit show by the looks of things. Adam Kay manages to keep us entertained, while also giving us an education into what life is like for those who thanklessly hold society together, especially when everything falls apart. Looking at you COVID-19. I love the book because it made me laugh, cry and think via short snappy diary entries, each more delectable than the next. I recommend this book to everyone, EVERYONE, even though I am sure the majority of people who are reading this have already had the pleasure of reading the book.
Adults – 3.2/5
Adults is a book about the social signals we put out to the world vs. the (sometimes grim) reality of our lives. I’m going to be honest. At the beginning of this book, I hated Jenny (the protagonist) so much and I really didn’t think I was going to be able to continue reading it. The introduction begins with a millennial becoming increasingly anxious over what to caption an Instagram post. My immediate thoughts were, THIS HAS BEEN DONE TO DEATH. I continued reading because books in Australia are outrageously expensive and I wasn’t going to waste my coin. As I continued, I began to find Jenny a little more endearing, even if my over-arching thought was, “she’s a pain in the hole’. I realized that my primary dislike for Jenny was coming from the fact that maybe her mental schemas were hitting a little to close to home. I realized that maybe it’s hard to read something that actually closely applies to you. This book is about obsession, an obsession with how the world sees us and a stubborn-ness against letting the mask of perfection slip. As the book progresses, we find more depth in the croissant picture posting protagonist and a story that is kind of worth reading. I recommend this to anyone who spends more than twenty minutes on Instagram each day.
I am a podcast junkie. If I am not listening to podcasts, I am usually beginning each sentence with, “Oh, I heard this really interesting thing on a podcast.” Here are my top podcast episodes from May, so you can dip the toes in without being overwhelmed with thousands of episodes.
This episode is for the people who are feeling trapped and need a fresh perspective. I found this episode really mind blowing.
I adore Louis Theroux and I am so happy that he has started a podcast so my fan girl energy has another platform to enjoy. His conversation with Boy George is a brilliant lazy Sunday listen.
This sounds extremely morbid but it puts a face to the statistics. Prepare to cry but also prepare to feel grateful for your lot. I think it’s something everyone should listen to.
Up the rebels and up Kevin and PJ! I am WEAK for I’m Grand Mam. It is my go-to if I’m feeling homesick for Cork. Paul Meschal’s episode is a very close second but this episode had me shaking with laughter. I was trying to run while listening to it and I had to stop so I could catch my breath with the height of cackling. Think filthy agony aunt material with a Catholic twist.
I want to be Dolly Alderton when I grow up but until that happens, I’m going to listen to re-runs of Love Stories. Ruth Jone’s accent is so soothing and beautiful and who doesn’t want to hear love stories from the creator of the iconic “Gavin and Stacey”. I recommend this for a light-hearted giggle.
I personally could not finish “Too Hot Too Handle”. It was honestly the worst thing I have ever seen. I hate whoever commissioned that show. HOWEVER, I ADORED Tony’s play by play, and his imitations of the contestants. He hated himself for watching it too, but he made a thorn into a rose by creating some hi-lar content off the back of it.
I am a huge fan of The High Low, both Panda and Dolly provide me with most of the book recommendations I follow through with, as well as the long-form features that leave me wanting more. I love the approach they are taking with their COVID-19 content, which is, let’s only talk about it if we really have to. I loved this episode because it shone a light on how we are all collectively behaving throughout this strange time.
I love Stefanie Preissner’s new podcast because it mirrors her Instagram content, which is breaks down Irish news into a language that everyone can understand. Stefanie’s podcast is just as good as her Insta stories, they are highly educational but conversational, factual but full of humour. I recommend the above episode for anyone who is wondering if they should cancel their holidays.
I was looking for interviews with Aisling Bea (who I am a big fan of), when I came across the “I Weigh” podcast by Jameela Jamil. I love the interview style that Jamil produces with her guests. It feels very natural, just like sitting there listening to two friends having a conversation. I particularly liked this episode because Aisling Bea speaks about her fantastic series, This Way Up, alongside Sharon Horgan, and how the ideas in This Way Up speak to the current situation. Listen to this, if you want a giggle.
I am not a big telly girl but this is what I was loving in May.
I don’t think I need to tell anyone to watch Normal People. Like most viewers, I was as shook as an Autumn leaf after finishing the last episode. I feel that the majority of Irish people will be throughly triggered by at least four things that happened throughout the 12-part series. It is excellent, it is needed and it is such a buzz to see young Irish writers making waves in the television industry. The beautiful writing of Sally Rooney is so intelligently matched to TV. I think this show needs to be part of curriculum for every man, woman and child in Ireland, and everywhere else.
Lots of great things happened in 1994. Firstly, I was born. Secondly, Muriel’s Wedding hit our screens. What an absolute banger. I adore this movie. It shines a light on a lot of things that are still wrong in the world, i.e believing your life doesn’t start until you’re married, but also the good things in the world, like female friendships, what it means to be loved and finding one’s strength and confidence in a world that keeps putting you down. I will watch this on an annual basis for the rest of my days.
10 things I’m grateful for this week
- Having more time
- Book depository
- Being allowed to go for hikes
- Black inky pens
- Community spirit
- Minestrone soup
- Cosy hats
- Peanut butter