As we crawl our way through these final weeks of 2023, we're looking to books, film, television, music and podcasts for levity. Struggling for motivation? Our content director, Elyssa Kostopoulos, is pressing play on Pat Benatar’s All Fired Up for that final kilometre on her runs, and the same theory applies here. Need the "sonic equivalent of a caffeine hit"? Cassandra Dimitroff recommends Troye Sivan's Rush or Got Me Started. Find the rest of our watching, reading, and listening recommendations from November 2023, below.
Watch… After finally (FINALLY) finishing all seven seasons of Mad Men, I am on to a decidedly shorter TV series endeavour: True Detective. Name a better duo than Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. As an aside – staring at them side-by-side for so long on screen has also got me wondering if there’s some truth to the rumours they might be half-brothers…
Listen… Like everyone as of late, I’ve been swept up in the latest LP release from Troye Sivan, Something to Give Each Other. It’s a little outside of my usual listening habits, but there’s something addictive in the melody of songs like Rush or Got Me Started that is like the sonic equivalent of a caffeine hit.
Read… I’ve been on a non-fic bender for the last six months and was ready to delve into something a little meatier in terms of a proper storyline. After reviewing the Coen Brothers’ film adaptation of No Country for Old Men for our November Forbidden issue, I decided to delve into the world of the late Cormac McCarthy and pick up a copy of his novel The Road.
Creative Studio and Campaigns Manager
Watch… X and Pearl. At the end of October/early November I spiralled into a horror movie frenzy, prompted, of course, by Halloween. I had seen and heard so much about Pearl on Tiktok that I caved. Safe to say I really enjoyed it, because then I went on to watch X, and now I'm holding out for the next in the series, MaXXXine. I love a horror movie with a storyline that justifies the horror and is also a bit silly? And these hit the spot.
Read… I haven’t actually started but I have the intention of reading The Bell Jar before the year ends. I’ll update you in December if I’ve managed to read it!
Listen… I’ve hyper-fixated on two songs this month, the first being Troye Sivan’s One Of Your Girls (for obvious reasons) and the second being Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek. The reasoning behind the last one is silly, but I just keep being reminded of this song because of the infamous OC moment, and the SNL skit that was subsequently made about the scene…
Watch… The Quick and The Dead. This is the most ridiculous and wonderful film I have seen of late, a 1995 gothic western with Gene Hackman as the villain and Sharon Stone as a leather-wearing gun-wielding vixen on a horse. Still not convinced? Russell Crowe is a reformed priest in shackles and baby Leo is a young sexy upstart who sleeps on a bed of dynamite. The crash zooms and special effects are the stuff dreams are made of. A hilarious revenge story with stunts that defined the mid-90s, and I will be referencing the costume designs this summer. Sorry.
Read… Truthfully, I have just finished reading my textbook but it’s quite dry (feel free to email me directly if you want information on Health and Safety legislation in NSW). So, I’m now going to treat myself with some fiction, Death in Midsummer by Yukio Mishima is on my bedside table
Listen… Chaos Magic, the new Jaakko Eino Kalevi record, is a good soundtrack to a summer walk or a beach drive. And of course, the new Sleater-Kinney singles because they are amazing and they put friend and collaborator Miranda July in the Hell video.
Watch… I essentially haven’t watched anything all year (I’m either working, reading, or scrolling TikTok after hours). So my December watch list is LONG. I think I’m the only person in the RUSSH office who has not seen Saltburn, so that’s up there. I also want to re-watch the François Nars documentary, Unknown Beauty. I went to a screening a few weeks ago and it left me speechless; so many beautiful visual references. I want to pause on every frame.
Read… Lessons in Chemistry is on my bookshelf right now. I know I’m late but I’m looking forward to reading it over the break. I also just ordered Trent Dalton’s new book, Lola In The Mirror. I would buy anything by Trent, I think he’s an exceptional writer.
Listen… I’m so deep in music and playlists right now because I’ve had to organise a bunch and brief the DJ for my January wedding. For the ‘getting ready’ part of the day I looked towards 80s and 90s rom-coms: The Cure, Van Morrison, The Cranberries and Billy Joel feature heavily. If you want great background summer music, I love Flamingo Estate’s Spotify, as well. I find a lot of great artists through listening.
Assistant to Editor in Chief
Watch… I just got into Morning Wars and I must say once again Apple TV+ does not disappoint. Oh, and how could I forget Saltburn. My god, so many things to say, yet such little space. 1000/10 recommend. As soon as December 1 comes, I'll be bringing out the Christmas movies too.
Read… I officially have time to read A Little Life. It has been on my list for a while and I have been dabbling in it, but I can finally take the plunge. While it isn’t reading as such, I’m flipping through the new Jacquemus photography book Le ChouChou; if you need a new coffee table book I highly recommend. Martin Parr's fashion photography is fun and playful, I just really love the creative direction at Jacquemus.
Listen… While I also have my Christmas music playlist creeping in occasionally, I’ve been listening to a lot of Mitski, Boygenius and of course, Murder On the Dancefloor… if you know you know.
Consumer Revenue Manager
Watch… Ted Lasso. Yes, I am late to the Ted Lasso train… but all I can say is “choo choo”. I’m never getting off! I’m trying my best to avoid binging the show because I want to make it last. For fellow Lasso fans out there cheering me on, I have just finished the episode in Season 2 with Led Tasso.
Read… Bunnings reviews. Call me Slacko Jacko on the reading front this month. I’m on a DIY home improvement journey in an attempt to “jeuje” up my 80s art deco home on a budget (hi inflation, how are ya?). Automatic roller door opener recommendations, anyone?
Listen… The Diary Of A CEO podcast on YouTube. Yes, this could be classified as a “Watch”, but this podcast has been a brilliant listen throughout my housework slog on weekends – which I have to add, has hugely increased the output of my housework. Have my windows ever been this clear? Have my floors ever sparkled so bright?
Digital Strategy Director
Watch… This time of year is chaos, as such I have been turning to comfort viewing. Seinfeld reruns have been the consistent background noise in my house for the last few weeks. I have also seen a couple of good films. Dumb Money was incredible. If you liked the Big Short, you’ll like this too. And yes, I did also see the new Hunger Games film. To quote a Letterboxd review: “If villain bad why sexy”.
Read… Like every other BookTok girly, I’ve started Iron Flame. If you haven’t read the Fourth Wing series yet, please do. I’ve also started Invisible Women, but I can only read a chapter a night because it makes me too mad. It’s about data bias and how women live every day in a world that was in no way designed for them.
Listen… I’m going to see Taking Back Sunday next week so I’ve been blaring their catalogue on repeat for over a month. I’m ready to get hurt again.
Watch… November is always a busy personal month for me, so in the free moments I do have, I've found myself TikTok scrolling into the abyss out of ease. However, I did actively force myself to start watching All The Light We Cannot See last week, which I have enjoyed as a moment of escapism. It has also encouraged me to add Anthony Doerr's original book that the series is based on, to my summer reading list.
Listen… My fitness challenge to myself this month was to improve my running (torturous, I know), but with that, came the very important task of building the perfect running playlist. I’ve found Pat Benatar’s All Fired Up to be extremely helpful for that final kilometre push, and Robyn’s With Every Heartbeat to be the right track to get me into a rhythm in the first 10 minutes.
Arts & Culture Editor
Watch... Whatever it is, you should see it at your local cinema. 2023 has been about going to the movies again (thank you Barbenheimer). Remember cheap Tuesday? It still exists and it's great. If you've been weaning yourself off food delivery apps, and if the rising cost of streaming platforms is kicking your ass, it's time to go back to the cinema. BYO snacks. Until next Tuesday, go watch Murina on SBS On Demand.
Read... Given all the "teenage girl in her 20s" chat, I really enjoyed Zadie Smith's recent article in The New Yorker about our inner teenager, which begins with a story about her falling out of her bedroom window. "Why assume your fifteen-year-old self is the arbiter of all truth?” her shrink tells her, which really resonates. Why do we let our teenage selves have the final say, she didn't know anything?? I know I've been a broken record about Smith these past few month, but she's given me a lot of food for thought this press tour, especially in terms of success, the tension between freedom and security, and our connection with people. Her interview for the Changes podcast is a great example.
Listen... One of my favourite podcasts, Literary Friction, is wrapping up and I don't know how I'm going to cope. Send recs please? Also, I've been listening to The Hunger Games audiobooks after seeing the latest prequel. So nostalgic. And Olivia Rodrigo's single Can't Catch Me Now captures the film's mood to a near fault. I also think it's a sibling to Taylor Swift's Safe & Sound which was made for the first film.