Monthly Favourites – July 2019

The July instalment of my monthly favourites may be a bit later than usual, but I do have a few sources of joy to share with you. These include two books (they are both worthy of a mention), two specific episodes of two very different TV series, a documentary and music from a band that I hadn’t listened to in ages.

Last month, for the first time in probably two decades, I finished rereading a book. O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis in the English translation) is one of the books that I wanted to reread, since I remembered it as an old favourite. And I’m so glad that I loved it as much as the first time! It is a fantastic example of intertextuality, as Ricardo Reis, one of Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms, is turned into a real person. After 16 years living in Brazil, he returns to Portugal at the end of 1935. In Lisbon, he interacts mainly with three people: Lídia, a chambermaid at the hotel he is staying in; Marcenda, a young woman whose left hand is paralysed; and his deceased friend Fernando Pessoa. Although not much happens in terms of plot, this is still an engrossing and mesmerising work of literature, which also delves into the fascist regime in Portugal.

Another book that I also highly enjoyed reading in July was Circe by Madeline Miller, a retelling of an Ancient Greek myth. Circe is the daughter of Helios, god of sun, and the nymph Perse. She was sentenced to exile on a deserted island for using witchcraft against her own kind. Her emotions throughout the novel, which reads much like a fictional memoir, are palpable. It focuses on what she learnt during her life and explores the meaning of love and the fear of losing someone. The prose is almost always gripping.

There wasn’t a TV series that I loved watching from beginning to end last month. However, I adored the last episode of two of them. Last year, La Casa de Papel (known as Money Heist in English) was among the best TV series that I watched. After two parts, it had a suitable ending. So, I was surprised when Netflix announced a third one. What I liked the most about the previous two parts was to discover more about the characters’ past and personalities. Overall, part 3 doesn’t have the same level of character examination. Episode 8, nevertheless, is highly engrossing and moving. I have similar feelings about season 3 of Stranger Things. It felt repetitive regarding the threats that the characters had to face. Or maybe it’s I who am growing tired of all the 80s nostalgia. But the last episode had me in tears.

Documentaries are not usually part of my monthly favourites. The Great Hack is one that I believe everyone should watch, though. It explains the role of Cambridge Analytica, which illegally harvested personal data, on the Brexit referendum and Trump’s election. Overall, it conveys how propaganda and manipulation are a reality in the 21st century via social media, particularly Facebook. Not only is it compelling and thought-provoking, but also unsettling.

Music-wise, I listened to a lot of Da Weasel, a Portuguese hip-hop band, after many years without doing so. The band supposedly ended in 2010, but last month they announced a special gig at the Alive Music Festival next year. They are the only hip-hop band that I truly like, to be honest, maybe because they mixed elements from rock in their music. My favourite song is ‘Casa (Vem Fazer de Conta)’, which features Manuel da Cruz, singer of Ornatos Violeta (another great Portuguese band).

These are my favourites from July! Which are yours? Tell me in the comments!

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