Today I thought I'd share some books, movies and podcasts with you. Like anyone else, I love being entertained. I go through phases where I only read textbooks, then sometimes I only want fiction. I've noticed that even when I'm only reading fiction I still seem to always get something more from the book, though. Right now I'm in a fiction phase, pointedly ignoring the dozens of textbooks I have piling up. Yet I still want to share the good ones with you because they are much deeper than just a light read. I also thought it was high time to share my favorite podcasts and some great movies with you. What all these things have in common, aside from being entertaining, is that they are all enlightening too. Bonus! :D
So let's start with podcasts. A couple years ago I finally realized that even though most people love music, I don't care for it much. I prefer listening to people talk about interesting or funny things. Most of the time when I'm working on the computer, I like it quiet. If I'm designing t-shirts, I listen to Ricky Gervais' podcasts which are really funny and quirky. But whenever I clean or cook I like to have people talk to me. So I am always looking for great podcasts. I love learning interesting things, so most of these are science oriented.
My Favorite Podcasts:
- The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe: Intelligent, witty, always interesting. My favorite podcast. I look forward to the new episode every week. Great stuff!
- The Skeptics' Guide 5x5: Only 5 minutes long, it briefly covers one topic. A good companion to the SGU.
- The Naked Scientists: British, intelligent and always chock full of science and interesting stuff.
- Ask the Naked Scientists: This is a podcast dedicated to answering any kind of science questions. They know just about everything. I always learn cool stuff here.
- Freethought Radio: I have taken a break from this one, but I still get them. I find them a bit overbearing sometimes, but when it comes to religion, it's usually good to know what's going on in the world. They are always talking about their billboard campaign though, which personally I think isn't nearly as amazing as they do.
- Quirks & Quarks: A Canadian podcast about science. I find they have good interviews on new science before most other podcasts, but that might just be the schedule or something.
- Reasonable Doubts: I'm new to this podcast which a friend just told me about a month ago. He said, it's the SGU but about religion instead of science. These three guys know their stuff and I get a lot out of each episode. It's for people who don't just take things on faith.
- Science Talk: Scientific American's podcast. Quite enjoyable and educational.
- Ricky Gervais: His podcasts are pretty funny. He has an infectious laugh. I love his Guides To stuff. He and his friends Steve Merchant and the irrepressible Karl Pilkington are just perfect together. I literally laugh out loud sometimes.
- Breaking Science: I am just downloading all of the episodes of this podcast right this very minute. I found it while getting links for the other podcasts. It's from the Naked Scientists, so I am sure I'll like it. :)
Enlightening Movies I've Seen Recently:
The Day of the Triffids: Ok, stick with me. Back in the early 80's the BBC did a mini-series based on the book of the same name. I read it when I was young but my nearly perfect husband Butch wanted to watch this for some reason, so I sighed dramatically, expecting to hate it. The special effects are pretty awful, but they are used sparingly. The Triffids are actually not half bad. But the acting is quite good. I recently got the book and will read it when Butch is done with it. Why I recommend it is because it's one of those movies that makes you think about how we do things and what would happen if almost everyone were struck blind. I found the way people reacted was fascinating. Most people wanted to wait for help to come. They just knew it would be there soon. Anyway, it's a very good social commentary.
City of Ember: This was another strange choice by Butch. Again, when I saw the cover and read the description, I sighed dramatically and figured it was going to be pretty sucky. Well, wasn't I surprised! The acting is great, the story is different and interesting, and the deeper messages are excellent. While it's for young adults, I found it to be a hidden gem. It's based on a book by the same name, which I just started reading today. The social commentary is subtle, but if you decide to watch it, just pay attention to how people react and what they say. That's the real meat of this movie. I won't say much else. I hope you'll like it if you give it a chance.
Great Books I've Read Recently:
The Heathen's Guide to World Religions: This is the last text I've read. It's a short book but quite comprehensive and interesting. You can get this from Amazon but if you get it directly from the author it's much more affordable, probably because the writer gets to keep more of the profit, which is a good thing. This book irreverently looks at all of the major world religions in just the right amount of detail and wit. The only thing that I can complain about is the book should have gone through another proofreader before printing. That kind of stuff is really irritating, but even so, it's totally worth reading if you want to know the history and some very good information about each world religion. I learned a lot and laughed out loud several times while doing so.
His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass): Wow, wow and wow. We saw the movie awhile ago and it was very good. I decided I wanted to read the book and found out it was a trilogy. While the movie was interesting and well done, the books were excellent. I just finished the last one yesterday. I have to say I'm glad I watched the movie first, because it helped me flesh out the books. But now I want to see the movie again so that it will make it even better. The movie is pretty faithful to the first book. But the book is much richer and deeper, and goes further than where the movie leaves off. I went to Philip Pullman's website yesterday (the author) and he says it doesn't look like they'll make the other 2 movies which is a huge disappointment to me. While the first book touches on some interesting subjects, the 2 following books tackle everything from quantum physics and parallel worlds to the world of god, angels, the world of the dead, the church and so much more. I originally watched the movie because of the controversy. I heard that Philip Pullman wrote the books because he felt the Chronicles of Narnia were shallow attempts at indoctrinating children into christianity. (that's my wording, not his). And they are. I remember when I read them in my 20's I was totally disgusted when it suddenly became clear that Aslan was god or jesus or whatever. It seemed like a shallow and shameless attempt to sucker children into the church. Mr. Pullman is an atheist. Which makes reading the Dark Materials trilogy even more interesting. I won't tell you any specifics but trust me, these books are excellent and well worth the read. Fascinating, thought provoking, page turning excellence.
What I'm Reading Now:
The City of Ember:This is a young adult novel that I just started reading today. So far it's very good. It's an easy read, but interesting. It seems that the movie is quite faithful to the book, which I always appreciate. This is the first in a series of 4 books. I read the reviews in the front, and one in particular was helpful. The book (and the movie) basically give a very minimal explanation for why the City of Ember was created over 200 years ago. The movie never really explains, but the review of the book says that the reader finds out as the characters start to learn it themselves. So there is a mystery that will unfold, I gather. Part of the deeper message is that the people of Ember seem to have lost their curiosity, or maybe their circumstances forced them to give it up, I'm not sure yet. Anyway, I didn't want to put the book down, so that's a good sign.
Ok, so that's what I've been reading, watching and listening to. Do you have any suggestions you'd like to share? I look forward to your comments, as always!