What I'm Reading, Playing & Watching October 2018

I’ve been reading a lot of books, playing some games and watching some TV this October. Instead of reviewing just one selection for my blog, I decided to do a brief review on all of it!

Reading

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
I finished this one recently, and I actually watched the HBO series based on it at the same time I was reading it so I guess this counts as both a read and a watch. It was both an enormously entertaining book and TV series for me, but I feel a little bit complicated saying that because they’re both kind of sensationalist trash. Gillian Flynn likes to write about evil women, and many critics have accused her of being misogynist because of this. I don’t necessarily agree with this criticisms, I think they’re very feminism 101 and don’t acknowledge that woman can be just as capable of evil as men. But I do think Flynn’s work can be cliche in how it deals with feminine archetypes of mental illness and attention seeking behavior. Sharp Objects focuses on a dysfunctional family with a mentally unwell matriarch, and I found it both over the top and uh…. let’s just say somewhat relatable.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
After my successful run of daily reading with Sharp Objects, I decided to read another book that has also been turned into an HBO mini series. I’m about 70 pages into Big Little Lies, and I do also find it entertaining and easy to read. It’s not as relatable for me, though; a lot of the content so far has been about motherhood and small town gossip. I am especially not fond of the interjections from perspectives of other folks living in the small, Australian town of Periwee (they changed the location of the miniseries to Monterey, CA for uh idk what reasons. Budget? So no one had to do an accent other than Nicole Kidman, ironically doing an American accent when she is Australian?). I guess those interjections in the voice of characters no one cares about are actually something that most people love about the book, but I find them distracting and annoying and perhaps a little too real sounding.

The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
I got this book from the library and was reading it as I rode the elevator up to my apartment the other day, and the older white woman sharing the elevator with me actually felt so threatened by it she said “I don’t like the title of that book!” And thus began my absolute love affair with this informative piece of social science non-fiction. Of course, as someone who has chosen a career of ill repute, you might say my enjoyment of this book would have been guaranteed anyhow. But it is well-researched, well-written (a very important factor for me, as a dyslexic person) and offers up several suggestions for positive solutions or even, gasp, reform. I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who don’t know much about the history of policing in the United States and globally. I didn’t know much about the history, and it is information worth knowing because it’s deeply disturbing, and answers a lot of questions about what’s wrong with policing today.

Playing

LA Noire Rockstar Games
I love that I am both playing this game and reading The End of Policing at the same time. I wouldn’t say LA Noire is full on cop propaganda— Rockstar Games does tend to take a more nuanced view of crime and punishment than average. But it’s not NOT cop propaganda, either, as it is primarily a nostalgia piece on the film noir genre. This game has a lot going for it in terms of story and acting (the game was actually acted out in live action by actors using motion capture), but as far as gameplay itself goes I find it a bit limited. There’s not enough action to fully satisfy me. I keep coming back for more, though, so I must like it ok! I’ve almost completed my first play through of it.

Dr. Mario Nintendo
I don’t know what happened to me, but I cannot stop playing Dr. Mario since Nintendo recently released it as part of a package of NES games you can play on the Switch (if you pay for their damn membership, of course!). The last time I played this game I was about 9, I think, and really bad at it. So I’ve enjoyed having a kickass strategy for it as an adult, I suppose! I’ve reached level 20 AND BEYOND!

Watching

Sharp Objects HBO
See above, my review of the book is very similar to the series. My only addition here is that I have a crush on Amy Adams and she’s great in the role of Camille Preaker.

The Haunting of Hill House Netflix
I’m 5 episodes into this halloweeny horror series and I am obsessed and addicted. It does a wonderful job of drawing the metaphor between classic concepts of haunting and the more internal struggle many of us deal with the “haunting” of trauma. The acting, story, and sets are all amazing. I hate the opening sequence, though— sometimes I will watch a show entirely because the opening sequence excites me, but that is not the case here. I also hate the way the Crain family treats the youngest siblings, twins Nell and Luke, but that is definitely an important aspect of the story! And the portrayals of the older family members and their dick behavior are not overly sympathetic.

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath Hulu
I’m not actually watching this, my partner is, but that is also a lie because if I’m not doing something else while he’s watching it then I can’t seem to tear myself away from it! Similarly to Sharp Objects I would also put this in the very good and engaging overly sensationalized trash category. I’m very glad Remini and others are speaking out about Scientology, so don’t get me wrong! It just makes me feel a little sick to hear them go over the abuses they endured over and over again as a part of Scientology, and yet I can’t stop being curious about these abuses and thus I personally feel like trash for my morbid fascination.


So that’s what I’ve been reading, playing and watching this October! I’d love to talk about any of these shared media interests with y’all if you’ve read, played or watched them as well.