If You Liked Westworld…

If you liked Westworld, try reading...

If you liked Westworld, try reading or watching...

If you are loving Westworld for its setting that on the surface seems historical and nostalgic, but is full of high level surveillance and subtle tinkering…  If you are enjoying Westworld for its portrayal of the gamification of both history and human experience, for the days that repeat endlessly, and the recursive moments and events that shield or ultimately expose glitches in the system, ghosts in the machine…  or if you are drawn in to the series for its constant questioning of what it means to be human, and how we measure our own humanity… you might like to try some of the following television, films and novels which explore similar themes.

Deadwood created by David Milch
Jurassic Park directed by Steven Spielberg
Bladerunner directed by Ridley Scott
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
Ex Machina directed by Alex Garland
Humans created by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley
The Company Series by Kage Baker
Cabin in the Woods directed by Drew Goddard
The Truman Show directed by Peter Weir
The Peripheral by William Gibson
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Edge of Tomorrow directed by Doug Liman
Firefly created by Joss Whedon

If you Liked The Kettering Incident…

Kettering

I have been busy in the evenings the last few weeks watching the gorgeous Elizabeth Debicki in new Australian drama The Kettering Incident.  Set in Tasmania, this series uses the best creepy aspects of its setting to create a suspenseful gothic vision of rural Australia.  I love that while the series is very ‘rural gothic’ (a genre I love), it also has a touch of the supernatural and otherwordly.  I’m not going to say any more, because… spoilers… but below are some shows, movies and books that I found myself thinking about while watching.

Top of The Lake directed by Jane Campion
In My Father’s Den directed by Brad McGann
Broadchurch created by Chris Chibnall
Twin Peaks created by David Lynch
Stranger Things created by The Duffer Brothers
The X Files created by Chris Carter
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

If You Liked… Life After Life

life after life

‘Time isn’t circular,’ she said to Dr. Kellet. ‘It’s like a … palimpsest.’
‘Oh dear,’ he said. ‘That sounds vexing.’
‘And memories are sometimes in the future.’

Life After Life was my first Kate Atkinson, and while I hear that it’s not very much like some of her other writing, I very much enjoyed this novel for its recursive overlaying of stories, and the many replays of Ursula’s life.  I thought Kate Atkinson played with some very interesting ideas related to memory, fate and the idea of personal agency.  It was another of those excellent novels that pairs just a little bit of speculative writing with a lot of historical detail.

If Ursula’s many lives in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life also appealed to you, you might want to try some of the following:

If you liked the detail about the London Blitz and the multiple, complex and recursive storylines you might like Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis

If you liked the fatalistic aspects of a personal life revisited repeatedly, you might like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger or the film About Time, directed by Richard Curtis

If you liked Ursula’s growing awareness of her reincarnation and kept reading to experience her journey, you might like Every Day by David Levithan

If you would like to read more about the Todd family, you might like Kate Atkinson’s follow up novel about Ursula’s younger brother Teddy, A God in Ruins

If you liked Fox Corner and the complex relations between members of the Todd Family, you might like a like a book with a similar dynamic like Howard’s End by E.M Forster or the more modern Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido

If you liked the idea of altering history explored in Life After Life, you might like Kindred by Octavia Butler, or Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

Chick Lit

(FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T THINK THEY LIKE CHICK LIT)

marilyn reading

Chick Lit is a term many of us love to hate.  As Lucy-Ann Holmes said in her excellent article – hate the term, love the genre.  But for those who don’t like the genre, or are still biased against women’s fiction: forget about the publishing marketplace and how booksellers think they will best sell books, and forget the notion that all contemporary women’s fiction is ‘fluff’.

The following books are all moving and/or funny in the ways we like our fiction to be, giving us a little escape and inspiration with our recreational reading.  They are also, however, equal parts: quirky, unexpected (in that they often subvert your standard romance conventions), and very, very clever.

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Bellwether by Connie Willis
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
The Time Traveler’s Wife  by Audrey Niffenegger
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

If you Liked… Downton Abbey

08DOWNTON-superJumbo-v2

Now that the last episode ever of Downton Abbey has aired, I have been thinking about where I can go next for my quintessential British fix.  For those days when reading Tatler on the bus just doesn’t cut it, I will likely turn to some of the following:

Longbourn by Jo Baker
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
Howard’s End by E.M. Forster
The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley
Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
Falling Angels by Tracey Chevalier
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Life at Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse
Blackout by Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge
Gosford Park directed by Robert Altman

Not Nearly All (But Some) Books From Last Century That are Totally Worth Reading

Girl Reading

With new books coming out each year, and the hunger we eternally seem to feel as we wait for the next book by our favourite author, it’s easy to forget that there are so many books already proven, read by those before us. Often when I read a book written fifty years ago I am just completely absorbed, transformed and transported by writing as fresh and innovative as anything being written today.  I then have a moment of reflection when I realise how many before me must have read and loved this book the way I am reading it now.

It makes me want to have more conversations about these books, it makes me want to recommend them to people, and to make sure they stay in our cultural awareness, our memories and remain suspended within brief moments in our day to day lives.

So here is my own small personal list of older novels that I have read and loved.  These are all books that I will read again and again, although they will never be quite as good as that first time when I read each, and was astounded by the quality and depth of writing, detail and thought – finding it difficult to imagine each time a book ever being written that is better.

Continue reading

Fantasy

(FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T THINK THEY LIKE FANTASY)

tough guide fantasyland map
I’ve always been one of those people who are a bit snooty about fantasy, eschewing anything with dragons or magic and generally fearing that most fantasy will be cookie-cutter high fantasy of the medieval European variety – with barbarians in the north, exotic desert people in the south, and some sort of quest in between.

That said, I was fascinated by the Calormen scenes from the Narnia stories as a child, and Ged’s growth in A Wizard of Earthsea still offers so much to me, even as an adult.  I also just simply adore the presence of just a little bit of magic and mystery in my everyday world, something urban fantasy does so very well.  And for those who love their history, you can’t look past the complex and deeply realised worlds of Guy Gavriel Kay.  I often wish Kay’s wonderful alternate histories, set from Moorish Spain and Tang Dynasty China to Byzantium, were more widely known.  If you enjoy political intrigue and complicated plots told from multiple perspectives, Kay is an excellent choice.  His stories and characters are also deeply moving: I don’t think I have ever cried more in my life than in the final chapters of Tigana or The Lions of Al-Rassan.

So if you love fantasy and have someone in your life that you would like to convert, or if you are deeply suspicious like me, but are looking for a little complex and fully realised escapism in your reading, try some of the following:

Continue reading