My last post for 2018 could focus on my first part-year back freelancing, but I’m not going to do that. Honestly, it’s been a mix of good, bad and downright depressing freelancing this year. I’ll formulate a post over the break after I’ve had time to collect my thoughts and when it’s time to look ahead to 2019.
Instead I’ve decided to cover a few of the books, podcasts and TV series that I’ve enjoyed this year. It’s not everything I’ve watched or read this year. I’ve forgotten some of the early ones from the start of the year and I’d be hear for a week if I tried to list everything. You don’t have time for that, I don’t have time for that. I’ll give you the top few that are worth a mention.
But First, The State of the Media
Now that’s a rather large topic and I’m not going to suggest a paragraph can cover it in any substantive way. Instead I’ll just try and put down a few generalised thoughts. My interests are quality public interest journalism, informative long-form feature articles, reviews, female participation and representation, profitable consumer publishing among many other topics.
Despite the ongoing effects of the internet and digital disruption on journalism and the media, there is a lot of worthy, interesting and important work being produced in all mediums — digital, print and so on. Yes, there’s media consolidation, the Nine-Fairfax merger, ongoing redundancies across the media, low word rates, the effect of bloggers and influencers in online and social media, intense competition in digital publishing, threats from fake news and the continuing task of education and reinforcing to people the importance of paying for reliable, balanced and informative news and currently affairs.
As for TV, I think we’re still in that ‘golden age’ of interesting, quality TV. I’m looking forward to more films created by women and devoted to telling stories with interesting, complex female characters. From Hollywood to the Australian film industry, there seems to be more of a push to get the film industry to better represent women in terms of production and stores in film. On this topic, I follow the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media on Facebook. It regularly has news of female-led film and TV productions in the works to feel inspired.
So time to turn our attention to all the wonderfully informative and entertaining I’ve consumed this year. Hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration for new podcasts you might want to try or books to add to your reading list.
Podcasts have been around for many years now but they remain popular and the podcast medium itself continues to develop and change as producers find new styles and ways to present podcasts.
Late Night Live on Radio National covers the issues of the day with fascination and thought provoking stories on a huge array of topics. My perennial favourite.
Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales is like your two best friends having a chat over coffee or a glass of wine discussing what they’re watching, reading, baking and more. Huge fan and enjoy the Facebook group and the newly launched newsletter.
Conversations on Radio National digs deeper to hear from people on all manner of interesting topics.
The Writing Coach by freelance writer Rebecca L Weber is one of several podcasts that are devoted to freelance writing that are like a professional support network.
Slow Horses by Mick Herron is a darkly amusing tale about failed spies.
Force of Nature the second novel by Jane Harper after her hit crime story The Dry.
Stasiland uncovers the stories of life under the Stasis by Anna Funder. I read while staying in Berlin, which included a visit to the fascinating and rather terrifying Stasi Museum.
Beyond Black is the story of two women mediums in London by Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel.
Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales is a journey into the way people cope when something traumatic and unexpected happens in their life. Heart wrenching stories of pain and survival.
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene is one of his saddest in its examination of love, loss and faith.
Light Years by James Salter is a fine ready and an intimate study of relationships and the business of life.
Deep Work by Cal Newport was recommended by someone in a Facebook writing group. It examines the concept of ‘deep work’ that requires extended periods of concentration and how to achieve that in today’s distraction heavy life and “attention economy”.
TV and Film
The Americans is the story of undercover Russian agents in 1980s America. It authentically recreates the era and gives us both the American and Russian sides of this part of the Cold War. It’s stretches believability at times and I think there’s a problem with the some of the violence and our sympathies with the main characters, but it’s still fascinating and engaging TV.
Better Call Saul is the dark, enthralling prequel to Breaking Bad and is hugely enjoyable.
House of Cards, although I’m yet to see the final season, I’ve enjoyed the rise of FLOTUS to POTUS.
Orange is the New Black is darkly amusing and some of the best fem characters on TV. Ever.
Cold Feet was like re-connecting with old friends while living in the UK in 2018.
The Crown is an enjoyable imagined look into the Royal Family and HRH Elizabeth II.
Call My Agent, Le Mante and a few other French TV series to practice my language skills and get a bit of light entertainment at the same time.
The Man in the High Tower imagines life in the US if Germany hadn’t lost WWII and the country had US, Japanese, German and neutral zones with dark forces at work between the former enemies.
Some Random Faves
French Accent magazine is a PDF bi-monthly magazine for French learners produced by the Learn French at Home team. I’ve been learning French by Skype for the last 12+ months and this is enjoyable read, helpful for learning French and keeping up with French politics and culture.
News in Slow French is an excellent (paid) news and learning service that has been invaluable in helping improve my French learning this year.
That’s Not My Age is the blog by former fashion editor Alyson Walsh whose mission is to encourage women to be stylish and comfortable at any age. I love your style and her mission. I also have her two style books and have picked up lots of useful style tips.
Double J the digital radio station belonging to Australia’s national broadcaster the ABC is on almost every waking moment in my place. It’s a mix of new music and older music for my non-youff generation. I simply could not have survived leaving Australia and moving to the UK without Double J. I listen to the overnight music during the day and the evening programs of a morning and my favourite has been the J Files that does a deep dive into a different artist every week.
Exposed, the ABC series that looked into the story of Kelli Lane was gripping and disturbing TV and the journalists are continuing to follow the tips and leads that have come through in the Facebook group. I suspect there’s more to come on this one.
And That’s a Wrap, Sort of
There have been more so when they inevitably come to me as soon as I hit publish I’ll probably come back and update with new entries from time to time.
What about you?
I’d love to know what’s kept you entertained and engaged this year so please add a comment with your faves. Now I have this blog I’ll be starting on a draft of next year’s post from January. That way each time I watch or read something I can quickly note it down so the 2019 wrap-up post is a bit easier to pull together.