Ruby Boddington, Associate Editorclass=”sans”>
If you’re a fan of Love Island, Big Brother or Masterchef – even better if, like me, you’re a fan of all three – then you have to stop what you’re doing and go and watch Terrace House. I know most of you have probably already binged your way through the hours upon hours available on Netflix but for those of you who haven’t, here’s the premise: six young men and women, in Japan, all strangers, move into a house to spend the summer together and cameras capture the whole thing. They’re kind of meant to date, and a lot of them do, but that’s not the only point. Everyone continues going to the jobs they had before joining the show, and you’re just along for the ride. Oh and there’s a lot of amazing food involved. Just sit back, relax and enjoy watching a group of people get to know each other – turns out there’s a lot of drama in mundanity.
The Silence of the Girls
Towards the end of last year, I read Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls and could 👏🏻 not 👏🏻 put 👏🏻 it 👏🏻 down. The book (which has a beautiful cover illustrated by Sarah Young) retells The Iliad through the voices of the women involved in the legendary Trojan war but who have, until now, remained voiceless. It follows Briseis, a queen whose Grecian city falls, as she is transformed from royalty to slave and thereafter awarded to Achilles as a prize of war. Briseis, in spite of everything, is strong and likeable and Barker tells her story in such a contemporary way that you can’t help but draw parallels with the many, many stories that arose during the #metoo movement and this Grecian myth. Not much has changed since 1180 BC, eh?
I can’t not mention Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and NW by Zadie Smith either – both of which I’ve finished over the past couple of weeks. Both books follow several characters throughout their lifetime, switching between voices as the chapters progress, and both are incredible at telling the same story from different perspectives, interweaving narratives in a satisfying story where no loose ends are left untied. NW is set entirely in northwest London and much of Girl, Woman, Other also takes place in the capital, which makes for an addictive read if you are familiar with the city.
Girl Taken is a podcast produced by BBC 4, hosted by journalist Sue Mitchell which follows the story of Rob Lowe. Back in 2015, the father-of-four was a volunteer in the Calais Jungle and he agreed to help smuggle a man’s four-year-old daughter into the UK – that man was a refugee he’d become good friends with, who told Rob he’d fled Afghanistan, his wife was dead and he’d been threatened by the Taliban. Rob was caught and what unfolds is a story which is even more sinister than it first seemed. It’s an incredible feat of journalism, friendship across borders, and parental love. I cried, several times.
The Other Latif
Radiolab’s Latif Nasser had always believed his name was unique, until one day when he made a shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo Bay, allegedly, one of the most important advisors to Osama bin Laden. The podcast series follows Latif into a years-long investigation, trying to uncover what this man actually did or didn’t do. You’ll change your mind ten times an episode. I also cried, several times.
Finally, here’s a collection of must-reads, written by (some of) my esteemed colleagues and friends:
“I wasn’t prepared”: Thaddé Comar documents the Hong Kong protests, by Jyni Ong
The cannabis conundrum: How should designers navigate the marijuana business?, by Lucy Bourton
For 20 years, Rinchen Ato has tenderly documented life in the Kham region of Tibet, by Matt Alagiah
Drawn in the dock: the story of courtroom illustration, by Jenny Brewer