With World Book Day on the horizon, it seems like a good opportunity to share what I’ve been reading in February, and if you’re a Mum like me, no doubt you’ll have found yourself scurrying around this week trying to figure out what to send your kids to school dressed up as on Thursday. We’re planning to go with one of the kids favourite books, The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, which is easy for me and fun for the boys – as long as no one has to be peach crayon, obviously. *
*warning – contains scenes of crayon nudity.
It’s been a pretty good month for me on the entertainment front, and this month, inspired by a few of the other blogs I follow, I’ll also be adding in what we’ve been listening to lately (as you can see, I just make this stuff up as I go along). Before watching and listening, though, here’s the round up of my latest bedtime reads.
The first book I kicked off with in February was Sixty Degrees North, by Malachy Tallack, a sort of personal memoir slash travelogue I read for my book club. In it, Malachy describes his journey across several countries sharing the same latitude as his home on the Scottish island of Shetland. The book explores our connection with places, what it means to find home, and the sometimes conflicted relationship Tallack has with the place where he was raised. As someone who also lives in a remote part of Scotland, I could identify with a lot of this book, and the deep connection between people, land and places is something I could really relate to. Tallack is a very gifted writer (he was a recipient of one of the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Awards in 2014), and my favourite parts of this book were those in which he delved into his emotional relationship with Shetland, his family and his past. Sixty Degrees North isn’t the type of book I’d normally go for – I don’t actually read a lot of travel writing – but overall I found that I really enjoyed it (one of the benefits of joining a book club is reading books you wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to). Think of Sixty Degrees North less as travel writing, than travel writing with emotion. And anything with a lot of heart, inevitably, is always going to get a big thumbs up from me.
Next up for February, was The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry, a novel set in the 1800’s which tells the story of widow Cora Seaborne, and vicar Will, whose lives intersect after Cora moves to Will’s Colchester parish following her husband’s death in London. The story revolves around Cora’s search for the ‘Essex Serpent’, a Nessie-like monster said to be killing local people, and explores the boundaries between faith, logic and religion, and the relationships between people with wholly opposing views. The Essex Serpent was another book I wouldn’t have chosen personally – I think my husband and kids bought it for me as a Christmas present based largely on it having a nice front cover. However once again I found I did enjoy a little departure from my usual style of novel. And I have to say, they were right – the front cover is absolutely gorgeous.
But my favourite read in February had to be Dog Medicine by Julie Barton, a beautiful story charting the author’s battle with clinical depression and her relationship with her Golden Retriever, Bunker. As a massive dog lover, stories about the special relationships between canines and their owners really grab at my heart, and Dog Medicine had been on my ‘to read’ list for quite a while. Finally getting round to reading it was a real insight, and Barton writes without any restriction about aspects of depression that many other people would have preferred to keep hidden. Despite the title, Dog Medicine isn’t just a book for dog lovers, it’s a book for anyone who suffers from depression, knows someone else who does, or just believes in the power of friendship, love and self acceptance. It is a beautiful love letter to the dog that quite literally saved Julie Barton’s life, and along the way it’s a great story about family, recovery, forgiveness and the power of moving on.
We had quite a good month on the movie front in February, and in recent weeks we’ve been to the cinema a few times, firstly to see the fantastic Trainspotting 2 , and later, with the kids, to see both Sing and The Lego Batman Movie which were both really funny, well made movies. At home, GB and I downloaded Deepwater Horizon, a film based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which was brilliantly portrayed and also quite upsetting knowing how many people work offshore on oil rigs within our local area. To offset the sad stuff, my littlest and I downloaded Pete’s Dragon, a bittersweet film about an orphaned boy and his relationship with a lonely dragon he befriends after losing his parents. The film reminded me slightly of E.T and inevitably there were lots of tears from me at the ending – Disney, you still know how to pull on my heartstrings so very, very well.
TV wise, GB and I were glued to the latest season of Vikings, although I have to say there was a little too much gore for my liking this series and I ended up watching quite a lot of the action from behind my fingers. All was forgiven with the appearance of one of my favourite actors, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, in the final episode though, and I can’t wait to see how his character Heahmund matches up to the mighty Vikings in season 5.
On the BBC, we really enjoyed the final of Let it Shine last Saturday, and on the occasions GB was away working in February, I was glued to dramas The Moorside and Apple Tree Yard after the kids were tucked up bed. Sadly, most of the TV shows I’ve been loving have come to an end now and I’m back on the lookout for box sets to get addicted to in March. The Crown is looking like a likely contender, but any other recommendations are of course, always very welcome.
Music is a big part of life here in our household, and one of our best ever investments has been our monthly Spotify subscription – you can’t put a price on the power of music to lift the mood now, can you? GB and I both have fairly eclectic tastes in music, loving everything from Abba to AC/DC, Travis to Take That. Unfortunately there’s no alliteration involved in this month’s listening, but we’ve been really enjoying Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, and listening to some of Spotify’s own playlists you can access through the ‘browse’ menus. We spend a lot of time road tripping in our campervan and love making up our own playlists for journeys, or going with some of the ready made ones – our current favourites being Spotify’s own Afternoon Acoustic and Hot Country – which sadly bears no relation to roadtrips around Scotland in the middle of February. Nevertheless, the acoustic stuff is perfect for chilling out to, and even if you don’t rate yourself as much of a C&W fan, have a listen to the latter – some of those songs are really really good!
Before I go, how about this old record player I snapped recently in a charity shop for a bit of retro chic (alas, despite my best efforts it was not available for purchase). My son asked me if this was the way we listened to music in the ‘olden days’. Don’t seven year olds know just how to make you feel good?
That’s it for this month, I hope you’ve enjoyed this round up of what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to lately. See you again next month. And don’t forget to tell me what you’ve been enjoying reading, watching or listening to recently aswell!