December 27, 2018

It’s over. Twelve months of selecting and listing my book, music and film of the month. I started this as a way to force myself write here more often and more regularly and I suppose it has achieved that aim.

My film of the month — largely because it stands out from the Christmas movies — is Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old. It is a technological tour de force and also humanises the lives of the soldiers fighting in World War I. The transformation from flickering, comically fast black and white movies to stabilised colour is stunning and brings the trench scenes to life despite some uncanny valley moments and details. It was the human stories of life and copying and the return from the front that resonating with me most powerfully over the material on battles, fighting and death.

My book choice this month is Susanna Kaysens Far Afield, the story of a young anthropologist’s year of field studies in the Faroe Islands. It’s rare that a book makes me laugh out loud but this book has a few genuinely funny moments as young Jonathan struggles to understand his Faroese neighbours and their way of life. The book sensitively captures the challenges of being suddenly thrust into a new way of life that is completely different from academia.

I couldn’t let Christmas 2018 pass without mentioning that it is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission to orbit the moon. In the summer I read Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 by Robert Kurson and would thoroughly recommend this book as one of my books of the year.

My music of the month is Flit by Martin Green, one of the mad musical geniuses forming the band Lau. I saw Lau in concert again this month and I’m really looking forward to their next album coming out in 2019 having heard it played live at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. In the meantime I have been keeping myself entertained listing to Green’s solo album.

I also can’t let 2018 finish without also praising the New York Times’ Caliphate podcast. The podcast recounts an investigation into Isis by journalist Rukmini Callimachi and it was a revelation. The series was completely engrossing while also being disturbing and left me reflecting deeply on each episode long after each finished.


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