Post-Holiday Wrap-Up of Books, TV, Movies, Podcasts and Other Very Good Things

It’s February so there’s no denying the holidays are well and truly over. If you need a little distraction in your day, here are the best books, TV, movies, podcasts and other stuff I got stuck into over summer:

BOOKS
Normal People by Sally Rooney has been dubbed ‘a future classic’
Tin Man by Sarah Winman is about love, loss and loneliness
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love
Putney by Sofka Zinovieff is confronting, timely and beautifully written
Yuval Noah Harari has a knack for making sense of complex issues in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is not new but swept me away. Now an HBO show

TV
The Cry on ABC iView has tension to the max
Sex Education on Netflix will have you in stitches
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime is sweet and easy watching
Abducted in Plain Sight on Netflix is wild an almost unbelievable

MOVIES
The Wife on iTunes really should get Glenn Close her first Oscar
Private Life on Netflix is a raw and honest look at infertility struggles
First Man is the best kind of blockbuster
What We Did on Our Holiday on Netflix is seriously funny and the kids steal the show

PODCASTS
Believed covers how Larry Nassar got away with so much for so long. Beyond shocking.
The Daily is a news podcast powered by New York Times journalism. Stand out episodes are 16, 19 November and 4, 5, 10, 11 December

OTHER STUFF
I can’t shut up about how spectacular Lord Howe Island is
Peanut Butter Oat bars are simple, healthy and make the best snack
I loved reading this recent travel article on my hometown of Newcastle – get there now

Netflix’s Fyre Documentary Has Delusion, Ego and Fraud on a Grand Scale

As I watched Netflix’s new documentary, Fyre, I couldn’t stop putting my hands over my eyes. For anyone that’s ever run an event and felt it going a little off the rails, Fyre will be anxiety-inducing. However, watching a complete disaster of this nature unfold is also hilarious and highly entertaining.

The documentary is a behind the scenes look at the infamous unravelling of the Fyre music festival that was created by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. The event was promoted as a luxury festival on a private island in the Bahamas. Millennials who paid outrageous sums of money for tickets were expecting bikini-clad supermodels, an A-List lineup and rockstar amenities. When they arrived the reality was very different.

Look, although it was very sad that many people got financially burnt, my heart really doesn’t bleed for those who willingly forked out up to $250,000 for tickets based on the promos they saw. Comedian, Ron Funches, nailed it when he said: “If you had thousands of dollars to go on a trip to see Blink 182, that’s on you… that is Darwinism at its finest.”

Watch the trailer.

Read a Fyre review.

Watch Fyre on Netflix.

Add Amazon Prime’s ‘Forever’ to Your Holiday Binge-Watching List

I can’t tell you too much about Amazon Prime‘s eight-part TV dramedy, Forever. To reveal what it’s all about would be to spoil the big twist a few episodes in so you’ll need to settle for the official blurb:

“Married couple June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen) live a comfortable but predictable life in suburban California. For years they’ve had the same conversations, had the same meals and taken pleasant vacations at the same rented lake house. But after June talks Oscar into shaking things up with a ski trip, the pair suddenly find themselves in completely unfamiliar territory.”

Forever is created by Alan Yang (Parks and Recreation and Master of None) and Matt Hubbard (30 Rock and Parks and Recreation) so even before you start it, you know there’s a good chance it’s going to be quality.

I blame this TV show – which would have to be one of 2018’s best – for my tiredness today. Those little ‘play next’ prompts at the end of an episode should be banned.

Read The New York Times review.

Watch the trailer for Forever.

Watch Forever now on Amazon Prime.

Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower ‘Tabbouleh’ – The Salad That Keeps On Giving

This cauliflower ‘tabbouleh’ salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘SIMPLE’ is extraordinarily good. So good, in fact, that I’ve made it twice in the past week and passed on the recipe to those who ate it with me.

I have to say I was dubious when I read the list of ingredients. 800g of raw cauliflower?! Surely this was taking the cauliflower trend too far. How wrong I was. Left to marinate in the lemon juice and combined with all the other fresh ingredients, it transforms into something spectacular.

Ottolenghi suggests you serve this simple salad immediately but I made it a few hours in advance as I didn’t want to be in the kitchen when friends arrived. It still tasted incredible, as did the leftovers the following day.

View the full recipe here.

Buy the SIMPLE cookbook.

Samin Nosrat’s SALT FAT ACID HEAT Cooking Documentary on Netflix is Pure Joy

Salt Fat Acid Heat is a captivating four-part series on Netflix and is based on Samin Nosrat’s best-selling book of the same name.

Samin believes that if you can master these four elements, you can master the kitchen. In this new series, she travels to home kitchens of Italy, the southern islands of Japan, the heat of the Yucatán and back to Berkeley’s Chez Panisse – where she started her culinary career – to demystify and explore the central principles of what makes food delicious and how each of us can easily incorporate those elements into every dish.

If your heart is still racing from the tension of Bodyguard and you’re after something more uplifting to remind you of the good things the world has to offer, let Salt Fat Acid Heat soothe you. It’s pure joy, beautifully shot (reminiscent of the excellent Chef’s Table), with the only downside being you’ll want to leave your life and start a new one like hers.

Watch the trailer.

Watch Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix.

‘Any Ordinary Day’ by Leigh Sales – A Book About Blindsides, Resilience and What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life

We’ve all heard a tragic news story and subsequently wondered what the chances are it could happen to us, and what our life would then look like. After a personal brush with death, journalist Leigh Sales was driven to find answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event.

Her new book, Any Ordinary Day, explores what happens when ordinary people, on an ordinary day, experience catastrophic events. She speaks with those who’ve faced the unimaginable – from terrorism, to natural disaster, to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time – and in a warm and candid manner, asks questions that most of wonder but would be too afraid to ask.

As someone that’s led a pretty sweet existence so far, with no real trauma or grief to deal with, I’ve often pondered when my run of good luck will be up and how I’d cope if something catastrophic was forced upon me, so I found the research in this book about how the human brain processes fear and grief strangely comforting.

Far from being a depressing read, it’s an honest and beautifully written commentary on humanity and resilience. It’s also a much-needed resource for how to be helpful to others who are dealing with grief or trauma.

Read an extract of Any Ordinary Day

Buy as a book, EBook or audio

HBO’s Succession – The Most Unlikeable Family on TV Makes for the Year’s Best Viewing

HBO’s brilliant family comedic drama, Succession, tracks the lives of the Roy family, who control one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world. When their ageing father’s health plummets, chaos ensues as the family grapple with what the future holds.

It’s brilliantly cast, with Australia’s Sarah Snook playing the only daughter, Shiv. She and her three brothers are insanely rich and ruthless, with a serious sense of entitlement. Roman Roy, the youngest brother (played by Kieran Culkin), is possibly the most cringe-worthy character on TV.

Watch the trailer for season 1.

Read The Guardian‘s review of Succession.

Season 1 has 10 episodes available to watch now on HBO.com

I’m already excited for season 2, which is set to return to screens in June, 2019.

 

Get Your Morning Dose of News with The Squiz Podcast

Want to stay in informed with what’s going on in the world but would prefer to avoid mindlessly scrolling and getting sidetracked on news sites? Get your weekday news hit with the Squiz Today podcast.

I’ve been a subscriber of The Squiz weekday email for a while but have recently switched to their podcast in an attempt to spend less time online (for some reason, ignoring people/family when you’re listening to something seems less offensive than being glued to a screen).

It’s a fact-filled run-down of what’s making news in Australia and around the world, with a teensy bit of analysis and an eye on what’s coming next. Each episode is around the seven-minute mark so can easily slip into your morning routine.

Get the Squiz Today podcast.

The Book ‘Factfulness – Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World And Why Things Are Better Than You Think’

I’ve been wondering why I’ve been in such a good mood recently. Is it that spring is here? Is it that my children seem to have mellowed a bit? Or is it that I finished the book ‘Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think’ a few weeks ago and as the title implies, I’ve been wrong about the world and things are better than I think?

Here’s what it’s about:

“When asked simple questions about global trends – why the world’s population is increasing; how many young women go to school; how many of us live in poverty – we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

Professor of International Health and a man who can make data sing, Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens and reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.”

Read an edited excerpt of Factfulness.

 

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