Entertaining and relaxing: books and other things this February

I used to write a monthly round-up of things I had read, watched and listened to, but I found I tended to listen to the same things each month (the podcast 99% Invisible for example – which I still love and listen to), and got lost trying to remember all the things I had watched that were worth commenting on. So, I abandoned this theme for a while, and last month partially re-introduced it with a book of the month post in January. This month, I will do a quick round up of what I read and mention a couple of podcasts and blogger/YouTubers that I have enjoyed during February.

In fourth place, The Best of American Food Writing 2019, edited by Samin Nosrat, was, as you might expect, a very mixed collection with some interesting pieces, some that left me cold and a couple I might re-read. Third place goes to William Sitwell’s Eggs or Anarchy, about Lord Woolton’s job as Minister of Food during the Second World War, and how he managed rationing. It is a really interesting account of his life in this role, and I learned a lot, but there were odd bits of repetition and I was not 100% sure about the style of writing. It was hard decide on what to place at number two and number one, as I read two great novels this month. In the end I decided on Zadie Smith’s 2016 novel Swing Time at number one with Ann Patchett’s latest novel The Dutch House at number 2, though it was a tough decision to make. I think Swing Time won it for me as I could kind of identify with aspects of it (the dance classes, the mix of parental cultures) and found the plot both moving and interesting.

Book of the month

I picked up a copy of Fête/Life when in Nelson last weekend as I kind of like this minimalist lifestyle magazine. The photography is always good, and I love its layout, though I guess I buy it for the aesthetics rather than the written content!

Minimalist magazine

In podcast world, apart from my usual favourites, I enjoyed The Dropout about Elizabeth Holmes and the story of the Theranos blood testing application scandal and several good dramas over on BBC Sounds.

If you want something soothing to start the day, avoiding news until after the first cup of tea, then pop over to YouTube and watch Good Eatings and Use Less, even if vegan cooking or capsule wardrobes aren’t your thing. Both are relaxing, feel good channels.

Did you read anything good in February? Listen to any good podcasts? Do you have something you like to listen to first thing in the morning? Do let me know.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com


  1. Thanks for the tips! I will certainly be checking them out. I read “The Wizards of Once” by Cressida Cowell” a snappy fantasy set in ancient Britain. Along with magic and folderol, the story has heart and wisdom.


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