Camilla Long: What I Read

The Sunday Times' film critic and columnist starts the day with a few rounds of transatlantic celebrity gossip, catches up on movie news, and goes to bed with a long read, as long as she's not in the grips of a Game of Thrones addiction. 

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How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world to hear their answers. This is drawn from a phone conversation with Camilla Long, film critic, weekly columnist, and interviewer for The Sunday Times of London, and one-time tour guide of the Playboy mansion

Because I need cellulite in my face first thing in the morning, I will go straight to The Daily Mail’s sidebar-of-shame and see who’s done any terrible things overnight. I’m completely unabashed in loving that. It’s really amusing and completely outrageous and pernicious, but I think we all know that we love it. So I’ll probably go on that first. Because I like to limber up, I do start with celebrity gossip, and one of my favorites sites is a site called Dlisted. It’s similar to Perez Hilton, but it’s much, much better written and it’s much funnier and much campier. I’ll go and see what his take on any celebrity news is. I will also read the English gossip columns as well, particularly Lost in Showbiz in The Guardian, and Caitlin Moran’s Celebrity Watch column in The Times of London, which is always very funny too. I also love a good Page Six. By that stage, I think I’m ready for something a bit more serious, so I will go onto Twitter.

On Twitter, I will first read anything recommended in my timeline, which gives an amazing sweep of what’s going on. So I’ll read anything from The Times of London to an article recommended in The London Review of Books. I found myself reading something earlier this week in U.S. GQ by Jon Ronson, which was another brilliant feature, a beautifully-written, in-depth look at three hoarders. I found it fascinating.

Throughout the day I’m often on Twitter, usually on my phone, and as a writer, I’m at my computer most of the time. I have a rolling program of things I want to read, so while I’m looking at Twitter I’ll also be reading the big papers like The New York Times, The Telegraph and The Times of London, obviously because that’s part of my job. I like to do The Guardian and The Daily Mail in tandem, because they’re two sides of the same coin. I'll also read the tabloids, and at the moment I’m reading The Daily Mail, but The Sunday People is also quite good and often has a lot of interesting, unexpected stories. So I will read that, you know, semi-ironically.

Then I try to roam as wide as I possibly can. For example, I might find myself reading "Lunch with the FT," which is a brilliant profile slot, or something in Forbes magazine. I very much enjoy long articles from The London Review of Books, and I read a brilliant one about two months ago by Richard Lloyd Parry about the tsunami in 2004. I also read all the big magazines over here, from Grazia to Vogue to Porter magazine to Private Eye, which is a total must-read. I don’t subscribe to any email newsletters or RSS feeds; I try not to get too many of those. I don’t do any podcasts as I prefer to read rather than listen. I work at home mostly, and I go into the office very occasionally. But if I am on the Tube, which is quite often, I’ll pick up the Evening Standard if it’s discarded on one of the seats, absolutely. It’s an excellent read and it’s got a lot of really important articles.

A big part of my job is reading about films and keeping up to date with what’s going on, so I’ll read Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, which is particularly brilliant around the Oscars as they give brilliant coverage of the voting and insider tips and tricks as to what is going on. If The New Yorker has covered a film in a significant way, then I will read up on that; like the piece that Tad Friend did about three weeks ago on Noah. I’ll keep up with all of that and I absolutely love reading up on the Hollywood movie news and the new films that are coming out. As soon as all the new trailers come out, I obviously will hoover all of those up, too. I don’t tend to read film reviews. Instead, what I like to do is get the raw information, then go and see the film myself. If there’s an important feature about the film, which tells me more about how the film was made, or what angle somebody was taking on a film, then I’ll read that. But I’ll read other people’s reviews after I write my own review.

For fun, I am obviously going to be tucking into Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch very, very soon. Lynn Barber has a book on interviews coming out called A Curious Career, so I’m looking forward to that. I must also read the Eleanor Catton book The Luminaries, although I think you probably need to have a good few days set aside to tackle that one because it’s quite a high-intensity read by the sounds of it. In terms of films, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Pompeii, because obviously if I’m in the grips of a Game of Thrones obsession and Kit Harington, who plays the main character, is taking his clothes off, which is brilliant. I’ve also just seen a completely amazing film called Tracks, which is about a woman in 1976 who walked across the Australian Outback. I thought it was completely great.

I don’t watch television very much, and I probably only watch about three programs a week, so I very much rely on my computer for rolling news, updates online, and people recommending things. I’m a great fan of Longreads, which does some English writing, but is mainly American. I’ll go into that to see what they recommend as their top long read. If I’m feeling very virtuous, I might have a look at some of the literary publications like The Paris Review or The New York Review of Books.

The three news outlets I could not live without are The Sunday Times, obviously; Dlisted for my celeb news; and The New Yorker, with particular attention given to their coverage of films. Although I don’t watch much TV, what I will watch is a history program. If I’m in the grips of an addiction, I will probably watch lots of Game of Thrones. I’m not currently in the grips of that addiction, but I have been in the past. I’m halfway through series three, but it kind of fell by the wayside. I watched House of Cards from start to finish in one go. The final thing would be a mixture of BBC Newsnight and Question Time, which I think are complimentary.

Because I like to build-up during the day, I’ll have saved up a big long read for bedtime. It will be one of those big long profiles I’ve selected from Longreads, or just from the websites that I’ve been on during the day, like a big interview in The Guardian by Decca Aitkenhead, who is one of my favorite interviewers. If she’s written something in the morning, I’ll save it for later on.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.