Sunday, August 30, 2020

August consumption diary



How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny OdellDark Emu cover artPaul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl by Andrea LawlorIn Watermelon Sugar: Richard Brautigan: 9781504759571: BooksLucy-Anne Holmes, Don't hold my head down: in search of some brilliant  fucking | Peace NewsScrublands cover artEven Dogs in the Wild - Ian Rankin

I read seven books this month. Scratch that: I listened to seven audiobooks. 

I listened to/read five books total across June and July. And six across April and May. 

Some of this burst of activity is down to really enjoying most of them, and them being quite varied. (Perhaps the Rankin ranked lowest because it came too close on the heels of another crime novel (Scrublands)?)

I got some new over-ear, sound-cancelling bluetooth headphones, too, which meant I could mow lawns etc without losing any comprehension. (I can recommend the Anker A20's for anyone looking for a great pair around the $100 mark.)

I think I pottered more in the garden, too, thanks to a very mild August. 

Good books, good weather, better moods. They all feed into each other.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell (non-fiction, audiobook)

This is a book I'm already finding multiple reasons to recommend to people. It's not about withdrawal from society at all, but a refusal to play on the field as it's defined by the online materialists.

There's a lot of depth to Odell's arguments, and I enjoyed the fact so much of it is grounded in the (visual) art world. And nature. And history. 

So good.

Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident by Bruce Pascoe (non-fiction, audiobook)

Speaking of history, I felt pleasantly flayed by this one. Like, it should be no surprise that Australia's colonial history actively overwrote a lot of what the indigenous people had going on pre-contact. So much cognitive bias going on then and now. 

I did a bit of Googling about the book and Pascoe and quickly fell down an Andrew Bolt-size hole. When people try and attack genealogy or blood quantum (and those people who have websites with banners at the top that read, "No living person, black or white, is responsible for what other black and white people did generations ago") it's clear they're resorting to a cynical playbook. Much like Odell suggests, the best thing to do is set off that particular field of play and interact with real people.

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor (novel, audiobook)

I'm a sucker for stories that bury a character's superpower and once it's revealed, stick to the original genre.

In this case, Paul is a shapeshifter. He can make his boy bits into girl bits. His sexual orientation is a fluid as his gender and he spend quite a bit of time being in a lesbian relationship. There's elements of myth and fairy tale woven in. As well as being a kind of bildungsroman. Nothing much feels resolved by the end, except we're nowhere like where we were when we started.


In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan (novel, audiobook)

Okay, so maybe the fact my kids like Harry Styles bought me here. And now I have that song stuck in my head again.

But Brautigan was doing something really interesting in the Sixties. I can see a thread that runs through into George Saunders. The flatness of tone. The way language is rotated 90 degrees.

I think I'll have to read Trout Fishing in America, now.

Don't Hold My Head Down: In Search of Some Brilliant Fucking by Lucy-Anne Holmes (non-fiction, audiobook)

What to expect from a sex book by the author of three Rom Com novels and founded the No More Page 3 campaign? A blend of tell-all memoir, Bridget Jones-y gags and Fourth Wave Feminism? Why, that's right. Holmes manages to hold these elements together and delivers an entertaining and enlightening book.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer (novel, audiobook)

The reporter as detective isn't exactly new. Nor is setting a crime novel in the parched Australian hinterland. But Hammer (and ex-journo himself) does a bloody good fist of things in his first novel.

Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin (novel, audiobook)

As I said, I didn't feel the 20th Rebus novel as much as some of the other books I read this month. I hadn't read any from this series since I lived in Scotland 12 years ago, so I thought that was enough time. Maybe I'm just not a series guy? Or maybe semi-retired Rebus and nearly-clocked-out Fox and the ever dependable DS Clarke just weren't a compelling enough team to get behind?


Ultimate Beastmaster - Season 3 (Aus version) - turns out this is perfect family viewing with a 7 year old gymnast and a 5 year old who loves pratfalls. Now to watch the earlier seasons and tolerate the American commentators.

The Big Lebowski - I thought I was re-watching this but I must have only ever seen it in parts. And some parts that felt familiar were actually because Fargo the TV show cut and paste them.

Three Identical Strangers

A Star is Born

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Quiz - 3 part miniseries

Love on the Spectrum - Season 1

Connected - Season 1

John Was Trying to Contact Aliens

Trolls: World Tour