As my first post in the new lifestyle section of my blog I wanted to give a little insight into myself and the things that inspire me. This isn’t exclusive to things released this year; instead it’s a list of books and poems I read this year, films I watched this year, and music that inspired me this year. I tried to mix my usual literary focus with other cultural influences in my life as well so I hope you enjoy.
WARNING: This article may include spoilers
Books I Read
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
A classic of the gothic genre and one of the set novels for my Victorian Gothic module (which starts next week!). I’ve read this one before, but I was thrilled to see it on the set reading list and have a chance to re-read this masterpiece. Part of why I love the book is because it’s fairly short for its genre so it’s a quick but exciting read. Some horror novels can drag on a bit for me and lose their effect, but I love gothic short stories or novella’s!
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Another gothic horror novella, but in this case slightly more modern. Susan Hill’s novella was written in 1983, but is a fantastic example of a neo-Victorian ghost story. This is another book that was set reading for my course, but I love it so much. I was worried that I wouldn’t like it based on what I had heard about the film adaptations, but the novella is definitely worth the read and, like Jekyll and Hyde, it doesn’t lose intensity or drag on at all so prepare for an exciting read!
Wollstonecraft’s Ghost: The Fate of the Female Philosopher in the Romantic Period by Andrew McInnes
I couldn’t sum up my favourite books of 2017 without mentioning at least one academic text. As an English Literature student, I spend more time reading books about Wollstonecraft than I spend reading Wollstonecraft’s actual works. This masterpiece- written by one of my very own tutors- is probably my favourite book about Mary Wollstonecraft just because Andy’s passion really comes through in his writing and he really knows his stuff. I go back to this book every single time I’m writing about Romanticism an essay because it is just such a fantastic resource on, not just Wollstonecraft, but female writers in the Romantic period. I also find it genuinely engaging to read, unlike some of the academic texts I find myself trawling through.
Poems I Read
The Runaway Slave At Pilgrim’s Point by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A fantastic dramatic monologue by one of my all-time favourite female poets. This poem is very reflective of its time, and certainly has its faults but EBB’s emotive narrative is what makes this poem so effective. I very rarely shed a tear when reading poetry, but this poem really did get to me. EBB imagines the thoughts of a female slave escaping from her white masters and attempts to give a voice to those who were still enslaved in the US at the time she was writing.
The Laboratory by Robert Browning
Can you tell I was studying Victorian Poetry last year? From Elizabeth Barret Browning to her husband Robert, and another dramatic monologue, this is one of my absolute favourite poems and I loved getting to study it again, having first read it way back in Year Nine! This poem is all about a murderess plotting to poison her Husband’s mistress. It’s a fabulously dark and sinister poem and I genuinely believe that you don’t have to be a poetry lover to fall in love with this poem. It’s just brilliant.
Salve Deus by Amelia Lanyer
By far my favourite poem that I read this year was Amelia Lanyer’s fantastic epic poem the Salve Deus. It’s an incredible piece of proto-feminist literature that I found absolutely inspirational. Lanyer’s characterization of women and Eve’s Apology are so ahead of their time and brilliantly written that I immediately fell in love. This is a far longer and more intense poem than the other two, but so worth the investment.
Films of the Year
Pitch Perfect Three
I actually really enjoyed the conclusion of this trilogy. My sister and I love these films and their soundtracks so I took her to see the film over the Christmas period. I was worried about them bringing back the Bella’s outside of Barden but it totally worked and I really enjoyed the whole story arc! I feel like Fat Amy and Becca really came into their own in this film and the presence of actual bands with instruments added an interesting new dimension to the riff off and the soundtrack as a whole.
Another film I was worried about before it came out, since Spider-Man is my favourite Marvel hero and he’s already been rebooted once since the Toby Maguire films I grew up on. I personally did not enjoy Andrew Garfield’s reboot so I was nervous about yet another reboot but oh-my-freaking-golly-gosh do I love Tom Holland! He did a fantastic job and the film was genuinely brilliant. The comedic writing and tropes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were fantastic and I loved it so much. It will never replace Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man in my heart, but I feel like this did the hero justice.
The soundtrack, the writing, the director… this film just did so much right! The previous two Thor films have disappointed me in comparison with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so I am so glad that they’ve revamped Thor’s style and brought a more Guardians-like feel to the film. I really enjoyed the comedic elements of this film as well as the intensity. Hela was a fantastic villain and Loki’s role in the film played out fantastically. He had his antagonistic moments, but he played more of a comedic role which I really enjoyed
Soundtrack of the Year
You’re Nobody til Somebody Kills You by The Notorious BIG
I couldn’t write my soundtrack of the year without mentioning Biggie. He’s a big part of my dissertation and my research so I’ve spent an awful lot of the year listening to his music and analysing his lyrics. This is one of my favourite songs by him and also incredibly sad as it featured on his second album, released shortly after his untimely death. There’s something uncannily prophetic about the title and the song always gives me shivers when I listen to it.
DNA by BTS
2017 was the year I really started getting Korean pop music and BTS quickly became one of my favourite bands. This song is particularly meaningful as its marked a huge breakthrough in the world of KPOP on a global level. BTS made their live TV debut in the US this year, at the AMA’s, with this song; an event which I stayed up until 4am to witness live with my friends!
Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift
Yes I love Taylor Swift and yes I love this song. I could talk for day about the lyrical mastery of Taylor Swift but I need to keep this brief. It took a while for this song to grow on me, but I love all of the double meanings and creative references in both the song and the accompanying video. Whether you like her or not it’s impossible to deny that Taylor Swift is an absolute artist. I find her music really empowering and relatable and her latest album is no exception.
I hope you enjoyed reading my top picks for 2017 in literature, film, and music. Here’s to another fantastic year in 2018! Happy New Year everybody!