What our Online Editor is reading, watching, and listening to this autumn | HerCanberra

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What our Online Editor is reading, watching, and listening to this autumn

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With the cold weather comes the urge to hunker down – and what better way to hibernate than with a good book, TV show, or podcast?

Here, our Online Editor Erin Cross shares what she’s reading, watching, and listening to this autumn. Snuggle up with some of these suggestions and thank us later.

READING

I recently took a whopping six weeks of leave to travel to Europe for a long-planned holiday with my partner and some very long flights and cross-country train trips meant one thing: I finally had the time to tear through some books from my TBR pile.

I read all of these books while traveling (I literally finished Babel 20 minutes before my plane landed in Canberra on my return trip) and honestly, if you were looking for a sign to buy a Kindle, this is it – I’m officially obsessed with mine.

Dear Dolly and Good Material by Dolly Alderton

 

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In January, I wrote about how much I loved Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, so her collection of agony aunt columns in Dear Dolly and her latest novel Good Material where at the top of my reading list. And I tore through both.

Dear Dolly felt like having a coffee with Dolly herself and I found reading her wisdom on everything from breakups to body issues incredibly comforting. I will say it was a super quick and easy read (perfect for switching my brain to holiday mode) but it did make me giggle and I’ll always rate a low-maintenance book that makes life feel a little bit less scary.

But Good Material was a whole different ball game. I’ll be honest – I didn’t like it at first, but then I got to the end and finally understood what the hype was about.

Written from the perspective of a man in his 30s grieving a very rough breakup, somehow Dolly takes the reader through the mania, the desperation, and the depression he feels without casting him as the hero or the woman who broke up with him as the villain. It’s the perfect example of the messiness of human emotion and is ideal for anyone who has a guilty desire for rom-coms. But (without giving too much away) the bit I truly loved was how Dolly commented on the female experience of being in a relationship and the expectations that come with it. You’ll have to read Good Material to see what I mean, but it caught me by surprise and punched me in the gut. It’s worth picking up if you can make it through the first 150 pages.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

 

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This is considered a bit of a blockbuster novel and from the rave reviews, I expected to fall in love with A Little Life. I didn’t, but I did really like it.

Following the lives of four classmates who have moved to New York to follow their dreams, A Little Life is a very long novel exploring decades of friendship and all of the things that come with it. But the story itself is more of a character study of Jude and his life – and I’m warning you now, it’s heartbreaking.

Covering some very serious and profound topics (like physical and sexual abuse, addiction, self-harm, depression, and more), A Little Life is not a feel-good story about the power of friendship and love, but it is raw and it’s full of beautiful prose that stays with you long after you close the cover.

I’m glad I read it, but just a warning: I had some physical reactions to this book – throughout the chapters, my heart stopped, it broke, and it beat so fast it felt like it was going to come out of my chest. I think A Little Life is one of those books that will always stay with me because the story is unforgiving, complex and captures humanity in a way that niggled its way into my brain. Just don’t go in expecting to finish it with dry eyes.

If We Were Villains by M.L.Rio

 

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For fans of dark academia, If We Were Villains is a must-read. Why? Because there are Shakespearean mad thespians, a murder, and so many plot twists that you’ll be left guessing until the end (and then gasping when you get there).

It pulled me in from the beginning. After spending 10 years in gaol, Oliver Markers is finally ready to tell his story – and finally tell the truth about a murder that he may or may not have committed when he was in his final year at Dellecher, a very prestigious academy.

As one of seven young Shakespearean actors who are as close as close can be (in more ways than one…if you know what I mean), the drama is high, the stakes are higher and there are so many Shakespeare quotes and references that it borders on pretentious. I loved every moment, and I couldn’t put it down because I had to know if Oliver committed the murder. And if he didn’t, who did? And why did he take the fall?

The fact that I happened to finish it the day before I visited Shakespeare’s Globe in London made me love it even more.

Babel by R.F. Kuang

 

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What can I say, I’m a sucker for academic, campus settings. After visiting Oxford, Babel by R.F Kuang shot straight to the top of my TBR and I’m so glad I downloaded it. An ambitious novel that is described as a “historical fantasy epic”, Babel is set in an alternative reality where Britain’s global economic and colonial supremacy is fuelled by magical silver bars. Following the life of Robin Swift – an orphan taken from Canton by a Babel professor – and his studies at The Royal Institute of Translation at Oxford (nicked Babel), it tackles topics like the brokenness of academia, colonialism, and linguistics.

Asking the question “Can powerful institutions be changed from within or does revolution always require violence?”, I devoured this book. It pulled no punches.

WATCHING

Downton Abbey

Look, it might have taken me a while to get here, but I’m finally on the Downton Abbey train. Following the lives of the British aristocracy Crawley family and their servants, my partner and I started watching Downton Abbey after visiting York and we’re officially addicted. From the details of the costumes to Maggie Smith’s hilarious and cutting one-liners, it’s compelling, entertaining, and heart-warming. We still have a few seasons left to watch (as well as the movies) and I can’t wait to see how the characters develop.

Bridgerton

Period pieces are my go-to at the moment, and with season three of Bridgerton coming out very soon, rewatching seasons one and two only feels right. I can confirm that watching duty, desire, and scandal collide is just as good the second time as the first, and I’m excited to see Penelope and Colin’s friends-to-lovers romance unfold.

LISTENING

Big Small Talk


The perfect combination of politics and pop culture, this podcast is my go-to for when I need a weekly news wrap up that actually holds my attention. Hosted by the founder and CEO of Cheek Media Hannah Ferguson, and journalist Sarah-Jane Adams, it breaks down everything from the national rallies against gendered violence to Billie Eilish’s Rolling Stones cover into easy-to-understand, bite-sized content. It’s quickly become a weekly favourite that’s intelligent, funny, and authentic.

The Tortured Poets Department


I’m a Swiftie, need I say more? This album has been on repeat since it came out and I’m Down Bad for all of it (and I’m not sorry for the pun). 

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