- The Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian
- Jane Austen, especially Northanger Abbey
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michel Chabon
- Tove Janssons Muminböcker
- The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, both by Jeffrey Eugenides
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans
- A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene
- The Shipping News by Annie E Proulx
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
- The Moth. Stories are magical, especially when true and told live without notes. Like stand-up comedy, only funnier. Favourite episodes: The Ghost of the Rue Jacob; when a giant lizard tried to eat Jeff Simmersons’s pants (you can watch a video of him telling the story here, but it’s better without pictures), and an unforgettable account of what it’s really like to save someone from a burning building. The podcast is available here or through iTunes.
- Car Talk. The car show that is anything but. Never fails to make me laugh like a drain.
- This American Life. Don’t let the title fool you into thinking that this is not relevant to us Mexicans – this show tells stories that are funny, sad, infuriating, puzzling, thought-provoking and almost always irresistibly engaging. Favourite episodes: Too many to list (all collected in this really juicy free archive) but if you’re curious you can’t go wrong trying these: A story about a cop and a squirrel that may be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard on radio; Pyromania (and why it’s formally classified as a sexual disorder), Guns (how can two people have almost the same experiece and come away with totally opposite conclusions?) and a story about how to run down a deer. On foot. In the wild.
- In Our Time. How to learn things without noticing it – while you do the dishes! Has the most amazing archive of over a decade’s worth of hour-long discussions of science, art, history, literature, religion and culture, from the devil to neutrinos and everything in between.
- Radio Lab. Somewhat overproduced but still always manages to awaken wonder and curiosity. Immortal episodes include Sleep, Emergence, and Parasites. Full list of episodes, with links to listen, here.
- A Prairie Home Companion. Feeling stressed? You need Garrison Keillor, rumbling and wheezing peacefully into your ear, telling stories about another world that just might be real.
- A History of the World in 100 Objects. Bite-sized pieces of history, dripping with interest and oozing amazement. Try one a day with breakfast.
- Madmen is really only a hopped-up soap with good sets and costumes, I know, but I can’t help loving it. Don is hunky, Betty is tragic, the clothes are yummy.
- The Good Wife. Complex, intelligent, well-acted and dito written legal drama with space for intrigue, romance and humour. Unmissable.
- True Blood. Too silly to even discuss, but the vignette must be the best ever of its kind. Best watched with true surround sound, so that the crickets creaking behind your back make you jump. The first series contained hints of a thinking mind somewhere far behind the script, too. Not that that’s the point.
- Pride and Prejudice (1995 – if you prefer the 2005 version you can take that and stuff it up your ugly jumper)
- Flight of the Conchords. The best example so far of the under-appreciated “New Zealand Nerd Chic” genre.
- Lost In Translation. Beautiful, moving, funny, with not a single superfluous word of dialogue.
- Whale Rider – a beautiful film that manages to be simple without being obvious.
- Be Kind, Rewind – a manifesto for those of us who like to make stuff out of old boxes. Plus, any movie where people wear colanders on their heads to protect them from radiation is OK with me.
- The Wonder Boys. Gorgeous, weird Tobey Maguire, feisty, homely Frances McDormand, and Michael Douglas as a total loser in the only good role he ever did. A story about the power of writing and the impossibility of teaching anything worth knowing.
- Romance corner: Out of Africa, The House of Mirth
- Guilty-pleasure cupboard: The Devil Wears Prada, Dirty Dancing, Men In Black, Erin Brockvich, anything with Robert Downey Jr. Yes, that includes Iron Man.
- Äggklockan. Everything an app should be.
- Stitcher. My own customised radio station. Indispensible.
- Västtrafik. I need it and it works. Nuff said.
- AcuCalm. Acupressure points chosen especially for your current condition.
- SleepCycle. Undocumented sleep just isn’t enough anymore.
Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Frida Hyvönen, Israel Kamakawivo’ole, Jens Lekman, Bruce Springsteen, Ulf Lundell, Gin Wigmore, Crowded House, Paul Simon, Cornelis, Pulp, Ryan Adams, Suzanne Vega, Flight of the Conchords, Kent, Tom Waits… aaaw, you’re bored already.
- Fried onions.
- Everything with garlic in it.
- Chicken katsu with fried noodles.
- Real, melt-in-the-mouth turkish (or afghani) kebab.
- Tomato salad.
- Crispy chicken strips with hot and sweet sauce as done by the Chinese restaurant at the bottom of Lady Lawson Street in Edinburgh.
- Gyoza with chicken and spring onion noodle broth.
- Rare roast lamb.
- Interesting beer.
- Hot gumboot tea with plenty of milk and a little sugar.
- Lactose-free 3% milk.
- Bone dry rose wine.
- New Zealand pinot.
- Green te.
- Peppermint tea.
- Ice tea.
- Home made lemonade.
- Veuve Cliquot.
- Springbank 12 y o Campbeltown whiskey.
- Bombay Sapphire with tonic and lime wedges.