July 2017 Reading Wrap Up

My reading hasn’t quite picked up its momentum from last month, but I did have more literary gems thrown in here for which I’m grateful.
In total I read 15 books in July:

Honorable Mention:
I unexpectedly sat dawn to watch the Netflix film To the Bone in one sitting.

Trigger warning: eating disorder.

I’ve been putting off watching this particular film for a while now because of the potential triggers it may cause. In the end I decided to give it a chance based on this Buzzfeed article featuring the poem “Courage” by Anne Sexton. I was curious to then experience the written piece on screen to see if it would hold a different punch/ impact once spoken out loud instead of in your head. I was mainly thinking about how Hannah Baker’s poem in 13 Reasons Why felt like a visceral change from reading it alone.

Speaking of the later, the post linked below is a crucial one to consider:

So I was still hesitant for the first ten minutes of To the Bone, fearing the usage of grotesque and triggering images to tell Ellen’s tale. But I gradually leaned into the unraveling and development of the story when I realized that this film is focused mainly on the recovery of the character as she battles anorexia, rather than having an hour focused on the triggering bits and then ten minutes of recovery in a montage-esque bit, as many media pieces (books and movies) have done in the past. So the entire premise being set around joining Dr. William Beckham’s inpatient program on the road to recovery felt like the weight of the world was removed off my shoulders. Side note: I did end up having to avert my eyes off the screen a handful of times, but compared to what I was initially expecting, I felt out of the woods by the end of it.

I was then consequently won over by the utterly phenomenal characters introduced into Ellen’s life. From the honest and sage adviser Dr. William Beckham, played by Keanu Reeves, to the upbeat ballet dancer, Luke, always ready to act as a moral cheerleader (and a complete show stealer) for those in need, to the five additional women and girls being treated alongside Ellen. Each brings with them a shattering and unflinching clarity to the screen.

However, To the Bone had me so essentially enraptured in all the characters thanks to its ability to capture the moments that go by unnoticed but end up meaning so very much to the overarching theme. There’s meaningful intention behind every little gesture and glance exchanged between the different characters, and getting to experience and take notice of it from the sidelines felt pretty groundbreaking.

Another thing I would like to highlight was the downright amazing and vibrant performance made by Lily Collins, who plays the main character Ellen. After having read and reviewed her book of essays earlier this year, I was more than curious to see her take on such a personal role. It’s needless to say that she was more than resounding and full of magnitude.

The film is equal parts dynamic, honest, goofy, dark, and whimsy with a noteworthy ending. Plus, the soundtrack left me with a resounding yes and an unparalleled need to hear every song over and over.

That was my July wrap-up, thank you for reading!


June 2017 Reading Wrap Up

My reading this month was a bit on the slower side for me compared to past wrap ups. I thankfully got to complete some great comics and graphic novels I’ve been looking forward to for ages. But with the novels I had a little trouble finding the right pick.
In total I read 15 books in June:

Honorable Mention:
I watched a revolutionary film called Dangal.

Dangal is an Indian Hindi-language biographical film, spanning multiple decades as former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat and his two wrestler daughters struggle towards glory at the Commonwealth Games in the face of societal oppression.

I went into this film not really knowing what to expect, but quickly came to realize that something unusually remarkable about it compelled me to propel through, minute by minute. It’s been ages since I’ve been this lost inside a movie.

Not only was it refreshing to experience my first Bollywood film with feminist undertones, breaking records (and barriers) left and right, the addition of strong and supporting female relationships, kickass music, and complex characters with their own arcs had me all the more enamoured.

I also, as I mentioned at the start, cherished that the time skipping that occurred from decade to decade didn’t feel rushed at all because we spent a good time in each one to feel fleshed out. Speaking of which, getting to watch from the sidelines as our main hero, Geeta Phogat, succeeded and grew into her talent was sensational to experience.

I got a surge of adrenaline from watching her amazing fighting skills.

Another point I loved was the complex familial relationships. The whole film is set solely around exploring and expanding the detailed and complex characters in the Phogat family. With time they all get to grow into fully fleshed, inspirational characters, thanks to the the writing being strong enough that the whole story just breezed by.

And further drove the point home by showing the story unfold amidst the beautiful scenery. A+ cinematography skills.

I had so many epiphanies and realizations while watching Dangal. It was a revolutionary time. I want to watch a hundred more like it.

And here’s the trailer in case you’re intrigued:

Ultimately, I’d highly, highly recommend Dangal to anyone looking for an inspiring, heartfelt film with the addition of many comical moments to lighten the mood.

That was my June wrap-up, thank you for reading!

May 2017 Reading Wrap Up

My reading month was all about collections, whether that be poetry, essays, graphic novels, short stories, or collections of illustrated random facts & dark fears.
In total I read 18 books in May:

Honorable Mention:
I discovered the beauty that is Master of None.

On a complete whim I started watching the first season of Master of None because its following season had just released earlier this month. And it was everything I had anticipated Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance to be about, before I started and realized it was actually a research book.

This Netflix series features an ensemble cast with diverse characters, including black and brown characters, LGBTQ+ characters, etc. while exploring thoughts and morals that really resonated. Each episode is set around a main theme, touching upon a wide range of evergreen issues, such as the reality of having children, adulthood, immigrant parents, Indian representation on TV and type-casting of Indian actors, religion, modern romance and its mayhems, cheating, exposing racism and sexism, spending time with the elderly… and so much more.

I have so many things spinning in my head right now about Master of None, so I think it’s best if I just write it down point by point:

  • Some of my favorite moments: I loved the episode in the first season where the men used their privilege to listen and give women a platform to voice their thoughts and concerns, instead of snubbing and dismissing them. Also, the following chapter where Dev spends time with his girlfriend’s grandmother to hear her stories really hit me as well. It got me thinking of this quote from Too Much and Not the Mood that discussed a similar idea: “Most children grow up and plan to, at some stage, sit with a parent, a pad of paper, a voice recorder, and listen. Most children, despite good intentions, never make it happen.” And all this lead to me feeling inspired to finally take responsibly and call up my own grandmother more regularly, which goes to show just how impactful Master of None was in my eyes.
  • Season two feels a lot more mature and developed, exploring different kinds of storytelling methods, from doing the first instalment solely in black and white, to an episode in the middle of the season leading from a stranger’s perspective, where “the lives of several ordinary New Yorkers intersect in subtle ways.” Speaking of which, the latter was probably one of my favorite episodes of the season. I can hardly think of anything more thrilling or exciting than hearing the stories of three seemingly separate people (features a Hispanic valet, a Deaf Black woman and a Rwanda-Rundi taxi driver) connecting at the end. And then continuing on that same level with dedicating a single chapter to my favorite supporting character: Denise – played by Lena Waithe – with her killer lines and outfits. She had me all the more enraptured in the show.

But circling back to her episode: Over a series of Thanksgivings from the ’90s to the present, Denise settles into her sexuality and faces the challenge of coming out to her family. Since I love character building backstories, especially if they’re about characters I cherish, this was bound to be a favorite part of mine. The narrative was just so wholesome and fulfilling. Like, we got to see Denise’s growth and acceptance of herself and her sexuality through the years, and I’m just tearing up thinking about the importance behind it all.

Also, getting to read this article about Lena Waithe, who plays Denise in the show, talking about co-writing the aforementioned episode really put things into perspective.

  • The people surrounding Aziz Ansari’s character Dev Shah were right up my alley. I was always ecstatic to see more of his friends and family on screen. Speaking of which, finding out that the parents of Ansari’s character were played by his actual mom and dad – Fatima and Shoukath Ansari – left me positively glowing. I’ll never tire of seeing positive relationships between parents and children depicted on screen.
  • Everyone in the show – from minor to major characters – were so well-rounded and fleshed-out that even the Token White Friend got some depth with each passing episode. Like, the growing friendship between Dev and Arnold is on a whole other level. They’re so supportive of each other and it’s incredible to witness. The fact that they’re always there for one another to provide sage advice or just be stupidly happy together is something I can wholeheartedly get behind.
  • And as you can see with the above, the cinematography in this show is utterly stunning with its details and colors and everything!!! It was truly eye-bending in its beauty.
  • This last one is a bit random, but I loved that one of the minor characters was H. Jon Benjamin, whose voice is that of Bob Belcher in the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers. For some unknown reason I just love hearing him talk. And I could low-key listen to his voice all day.

All this goes to show that there’s simply so much to love about Master of None, and I’m so grateful I decided to give this show a go on a whim. It rings with hilarious truth while being both unabashedly nerdy and unsurprisingly on-point. What more could you want?

P.S. I love it even more for distracting my mind off of that disastrous Skam clip before its midseason hiatus announcement.

That was my May wrap-up, thank you for reading!