What JH has been reading / watching / listening to

N.B. This blog post is a shameless rip off of a similar, but far superior blog post by Bookish Brunette, which can be found here > http://bookishbrunette.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/what-bookish-brunette-has-been-readingwatchinglistening-to/

Reading:


A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

These are the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time (though I appreciate I am a mere 11 years late to the party). They are smart and quirky and more than a little macabre. All the best children’s books deal with ‘adult’ themes (see Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials). ¬†Though in no way comparable to Pullman’s trilogy, the way that A Series of Unfortunate Events deals with grief is just wonderful:
“It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” (Lemony Snicket, ‘The Reptile Room’)

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

I am new to Murakami, having only read The Wind-up Bird Chronicle to date. I found Sputnik a much less challenging novel, though I very much liked the continuity of themes (wells, telephones, strange well-dressed women, alienation, the splitting of the self) from the earlier novel and was struck again by the deceptive simplicity of Murakami’s prose. Recommendations for my next Murakami novel will be most welcome.

Watching:

Up In The Air
I didn’t have particularly high expectations for this film but I really enjoyed it, despite some of its failings. Anna Kendrick is brilliant as an over-ambitious 22 year-old psychology graduate, struggling to balance her views on her career and relationships and, even though the story should be all about George Clooney, I missed her whenever she wasn’t on screen. The film doesn’t have anything earth shattering to say and the endless montages of people reacting to being ‘let go’ are a bit glib. But it is a fun way to spend a couple of hours, with some witty dialogue and heaps of chemistry between George Clooney and Vera Farmiga.

The Devil’s Backbone
Pan’s Labyrinth would probably sit somewhere in my top 5 films of all time but, until now and despite many people urging me to, I’d not seen Guillermo del Toro’s earlier film, The Devil’s Backbone. I think I like it even more than Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s a little neater, a perfectly crafted ghost story (although it’s more than that too). Pan’s Labyrinth is more beautiful and other-worldly but I think The Devil’s Backbone is just a more complete film. The ominous, unexploded bomb ever present in the orphanage courtyard, the ghost’s sigh echoed by the climactic sigh of Jacinto and Carmen’s adultery, the parched landscape of Spain at war, the touch of Lord of the Flies towards the end… Wonderful.

Listening:
Mainly to Odd Blood by Yeasayer, which is an album that gets better with every listen, and to the mix CDs I’ve received in the post from @AllyWickstead and @omrrc this week but that’s for another blog post…

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Happy Days

This video pretty much sums it up for me.

It’s how at ease I feel when I’m at a race meeting, how content I am, how exhilarating it can be. I’d forgotten that.

Though now I have that urge again to have my own bike.

My mum: What would you get?
Me: I think I’d like an R1.
My mum: How about you start with something smaller?

Ha. I wish I was 17 again, with no fear and plenty of disposable income.