I am – only half – aware that April is long gone (to be honest, the weather here rather feels like july), but I thought I would still do a wrap up of all the interesting things I discovered last month (although, not necessarily things that were published last month). Without further a do here’s a list:
Going through my Goodreads shelves it seems there is no book that I was particularly enraptured with in April (at least, not to the point of giving it 5 stars), I think the real discovery I made in fiction was Aki Shimazaki’s Le Poids des secrets pentalogy, both because I had never heard of her, and because the story construction in 5 small books with 5 different points of view dispersed in time was very ingenious.
Not surprisingly, probably, I’ll choose Svetlana Alexievich’s War’s unwomanly face, because it is simply amazing. I’ve raved enough about it, I think.
That’s a no-brainer, even if I did listen to several good audiobooks in April: Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. Amanda Palmer is a rock star, she was part of the Dresden Dolls, she is Neil Gaiman’s wife, and worked as a living statue in the streets of Boston at the beginning of her carrier. She went on to revolutionize the music industry, starting kick-starter campaigns and asking her public to pay what they wanted for her music. The book is the story of her life so far, and a reflection about creativity and asking. I especially recommend it in the audiobook form, because it is a polymorphous beast with some of her songs, poems, and also music from other artists she has worked with in it. Absolutely amazing.
Comic book/graphic novel: The gigantic beard that was evil
Because of the title. Also because it is bloody brilliant. And very hipster themed, so I’ll pick this while being in Berlin.
Series: The knick (directed by Steven Soderbergh, with Clive Owen)
This is a series my sister gave to me for Christmas, but that somehow I hadn’t found the time to watch until now. I’m very bad with series, I’ll admit. I grew up without TV and now generally regards them either as dangerous things that I might binge watch if I start them, or as “things based on a book, so I’ll read the book, thank you”. In general I don’t regard them at all, and that is a crime, probably, I just don’t have the time to care.
But coming to Berlin, where any download from the internet, or anything you watch online might be punished – and quite expensively – I thought that would be a good reason to bring this with. This follows the personal of the Knickerbocker, the famous New York hospital, at the beginning of the 20th century, as scientific medicine emerges and progresses follow one another. It touches upon problems of sanitation, addiction, epidemics, and the social and cultural changes arising, with conflicts of class, gender and race. It is wonderfully well done – though I watched the first episode with my room mate, who doesn’t study medicine, and said she could have done without my occasional critic (translated: Eloise, please stop yelling at the poor Clive Owen that the angle for the lumbar puncture is completely wrong, he can’t hear you), and said it was quite “graphic” (which, having spend some time in an operating theatre, I didn’t realize, for me it is just what it is, but it’s probably not the series to watch if you’re afraid of blood).
It’s brilliant then, and gave me the motivation to watch more series. But haven’t watched any other since, I must admit. Too many books!
Podcast: Serial, season 2
I usually listen to a lot more podcasts than I did this month, and this for a very specific reason: I listen to those while running, and running is no longer an option. But I still like to occasionally cook with “Comedy Bang Bang”, which carries additional risks of ruining the food you’re cooking because you’ve just died on the floor with laughter, but is totally worth it.
The only podcast I really discovered this month is Serial season two. If you haven’t heard about serial I don’t know where you’ve been, but it is the best place to start listening to podcasts. I, like a lot of people, eagerly expected the second season to follow the story it told on the first, but it tackles a completely different subject, and that is War (in Afghanistan, but the scope at the end is larger), personal responsibility, chain of command and geopolitical issues. In short, brilliant (but not much fun. For fun, and random impersonations of John Lennon driving an RV amongst many others, see Comedy Bang Bang).
Artist/ song: To stay in Amanda Palmer’s world, I might choose her “Ukulele anthem“. So much raw power and enthusiasm on a ukulele. I’ve also been listening, on a loop (sometimes I have weird song obsessions) to In the aeroplane over the sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. Just for the words “Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all”