February is here and spring is on its way (I hope). While January has been an absolute dumpster fire for politics, we have been blessed with some absolutely cracking telly. Enjoy some recommendations for occupying oneself through this horrible cold weather below:
- Progress (2016) – Johan Norberg. Starting 2017 off with an attempt at cheering myself up, economist Norberg’s book encourages readers to take stock of the positive changes in human history up to and including our lifetimes. I can’t deny that it’s a well-researched book, although it does, at times, read like a love letter to Capitalism. Nonetheless, it works both as an uplifting read, as well as a cautionary tale about romanticising the past. Life was short and shit, Norberg concludes.
- Warleggan (1953) – Winston Graham. I’m an unashamed lover of the Poldark series, and the fourth book does not disappoint. The female characters in particular are fantastically complex and sympathetic, and often much wiser than their male counterparts – in many respects, Demelza Carne is a woman well ahead of her time.
- Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1934) – George Orwell. Preceding many English Literature graduates, protagonist Gordon Comstock doesn’t want to waste his poetic talents selling out in marketing – but all he shows is promise. Orwell examines the possibilities of rebellion against lower middle class success with his characteristic dark humour.
- Rad Women Worldwide (2016) – Kate Schatz. Schatz and illustrator Mirium Klein Stahl team up to showcase a variety of Rad Women who have undeniably contributed to global history, including pirates, punks, polar explorers, and winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. A great book for all ages.
- Call The Midwife: The Casebook (2017), BBC. Actor Stephen McGann (Dr. Patrick Turner to CTM fans) explores the real life cases that inspire Call the Midwife, from Jennifer Worth’s original memoirs to interviews with former midwives from the 1950s and ’60s. The programme also stops to consider what is arguably the biggest benefactor to the baby boom generation: the NHS, which saved thousands of mothers.
- The West Was Built on Racism (2017), The Guardian. Professor Kehinde Andrews explains in two minutes that “the dead white men we are trained to revere created the knowledge that justified” the atrocities committed by Anglo-European intellectuals against people of colour, on which our current global economic and social inequalities are still based.
- T2: Trainspotting (2017). “But this isn’t Victorian!” I hear you cry. It isn’t, and it’s bloody good. While parts differ substantially from its novel incarnation Porno (Irvine Welsh, 2002), its exploration of Renton, Simon, Spud, and Begbie’s nostalgia for their lifelong friendship marred by addiction and revenge ensures that it remains a fantastic sequel to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting. Rest assured, Renton’s famous ‘Choose Life’ speech has been updated for 2017 too.
- Taboo (2017), BBC. It’s 1812 and the mysterious James Delaney returns from Africa to London to organise his late father’s legacy: he’s in battle over land ownership with the villainous East India Company, his confusing feelings for his half-sister, and the unexpected arrival of his unknown stepmother. Tom Hardy is fantastic as the anti-hero in this original, slow-burning drama – think Ripper Street, but darker and earlier in the 19th Century.
See you next month!