Cultural Consumption | April-September 2021

A stack of four paperback books on a wooden table. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of those links, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you), and you will be supporting independent booksellers. (Read my full disclosure policy.) Thanks for your support!

Cultural Consumption is a quarterly (usually) roundup of (almost) everything I’ve been reading and watching. It’s a way to share and promote amazing work, and it’s a way to hold myself accountable, so I don’t just keep watching the same few comfort-food movies over and over again.


The Girls I’ve Been – Tess Sharpe
A morally-grey heroine caught in the middle of a bank heist gone wrong… along with her girlfriend and her ex-boyfriend. Twisty and tense, with great relationships between the leads, this is everything I love, wrapped up with a bow. ★★★★☆
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

A Burglar’s Guide to the City – Geoff Manaugh
An interesting look at psychology, architecture, and technology, and how they’re used by both burglars and the people trying to thwart them. A bit repetitive, and I wasn’t wild about the uncritical look at law enforcement/surveillance industries, but I enjoyed the book as a whole. ★★★☆☆
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

Bombshells Vol. 4: Queens – Bennett, Braga, Andolfo, Sauvage 
I still love this series, but didn’t really connect with the main arc in this volume. The secondary arc (focussed on the Batgirls) was great, and the art continues to be amazing. ★★★☆☆
(Shop Your Local Indie)

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act – Bob Joseph
A short, very readable examination of the 1876 Indian Act, and the damaging effects it continues to have on the lives of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Absolutely essential reading. ★★★★★
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston
I didn’t know I needed an incredibly fun rom-com with time travel, an amazing found family, and punk music, but I really did. ★★★★☆
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

The Black Friend – Frederick Joseph
An approachable, occasionally funny, and frequently heartbreaking look at one man’s personal experiences with racism, along with conversations with a number of activists, authors, and experts. ★★★★☆
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

Rules for Vanishing – Kate Alice Marshall
Unsettling, atmospheric, and deeply weird: this is exactly what I want in YA horror. The ending might’ve been a bit rushed, but not enough to ruin the rest of the book. ★★★★★
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown – Seanan McGuire
Angel of the Overpass – Seanan McGuire
I love this series so much, and Rose Marshall is one of my favourite heroines in any medium. My only complaint was that it was occasionally tricky to remember who minor characters—introduced in book one (Sparrow Hill Road), which was more episodic than the followups, and which I read ages ago—actually were, and why they were important. But that’d be solved by not waiting more than a year between reading the books. ★★★★☆
(Green Silk Gown: | Shop Your Local Indie)
(Overpass: | Shop Your Local Indie)

I Am Still Alive – Kate Alice Marshall
A girl, alone and unprepared, has to survive in the wilderness after her survivalist father is murdered. A tense, can’t-put-it-down read, but I wanted more: more of the revenge plot, more time after the initial crisis had passed, more… everything, really. ★★★☆☆
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

The Typewriter Revolution – Richard Polt
I mean… it’s a book about typewriters: history, maintenance, how and why they’re being used today. So… maybe a bit niche. But I loved it. ★★★☆☆
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

Women, Race & Class – Angela Y. Davis
Forty years on, this is still essential reading, and offers needed historical context that I haven’t seen in more recent books about the intersection of race, gender, and economics. (And, honestly? The final essay in the collection—proposing the industrialization and socialization of housework—feels especially timely after the past two years of work-from-home.) ★★★★★
( | Shop Your Local Indie)

The Murders of Molly Southborne – Tade Thompson
A creepy, strange little novella that shouldn’t work as well as it does. (It’s short enough—and weird enough—that I really don’t know how to say more without spoiling it.) ★★★★☆
( | Shop Your Local Indie)


Moxie (Trailer)
A perfectly fine movie with a fantastic soundtrack, but I feel like it works better for a slightly younger audience than the book did. (Of course, I’m not the best one to measure that. The mom in the movie would’ve been one of the cool older girls I wanted to be like when I was 12 or 13.) ★★★☆☆

Two Distant Strangers (Trailer)
One of the most horrific—and effective—takes on the Groundhog Day scenario that I’ve seen in years. (Also, it’s a reminder that I need to seek out more short films. I’m always in awe of how efficient the storytelling can be.) ★★★★☆

Booksmart (Trailer)
I understand why everyone loved this movie, but it didn’t quite click with me the way I’d hoped. That said, I wish I’d had a movie like this—full of brilliant, messy, hilarious girls—when I was a teenager. ★★★☆☆

Black Widow (Trailer)
I loved this movie. I knew I would. I didn’t know I’d be crying during the opening credits, but I knew I wasn’t going to be an objective viewer. But I keep thinking about how incredible it would’ve been to have this movie five years ago, on the heels of Civil War. Or even in 2020; it might not have been groundbreaking by then, but it still would’ve been fantastic. But I feel like Black Widow suffered from being released after (and during) the Marvel series on Disney+—shows that have been giving us time to sit and breathe with previously-neglected characters in a way that a two-hour action movie just can’t. ★★★★☆

Gunpowder Milkshake (Trailer)
I had such high hopes for this movie. It was kind of fun but mostly forgettable, and I just really want to see all of these actresses together in a film that does them justice. ★★★☆☆

Captain Fantastic (Trailer)
I’m still not entirely sure what I thought about this movie. It was beautifully shot, and the cast was incredible. But the last few minutes felt like a tacked-on postscript, rather than a satisfying ending. ★★★☆☆

Searching (Trailer)
Fairly standard thriller fare, as far as the story goes. (I kept feeling like every clue had a big red arrow pointing at it, like ‘pay attention to this detail!’) But the format—the entire story plays out on computer screens: in FaceTime videos and photographs and streaming video—turns the movie into something special, and more engaging than it might’ve been otherwise. ★★★☆☆