I haven’t done monthly book posts in a while, partly due to time and, in general, the work of the podcast has me reading a lot less lately, but I thought it might pop in here and do a quarterly round up of the best books, shows and podcasts/music I’ve been listening to lately. As we are just wrapping up March and therefore the end of the first quarter of the year, I figured now’s as good a time as any. Here’s the best content I’ve consumed in the last three months.
So far this year I’ve read 12 books and a few have been incredible.
I loved Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly, which you could honestly and easily finish in one sitting. It’s written in what she calls, micro-memoirs, essays no longer than a few pages, some as short as a few sentences. I laughed out loud at parts and then tried to retell them, unsuccessfully to my husband. I love writers who can say so much with so few words (a gift I was not blessed with) and Fennelly may just be the master.
Nine Perfect Strangers is the latest by a favorite author Liane Moriarty. This one isn’t my favorite of hers, but it’s towards the top of the list. She creates super interesting characters, truly surprising twists and has a gift of making you consider bigger issues without obviously pointing to them. Nine Perfect Strangers takes place in a health resort with, you guessed it, nine strangers. I was riveted and couldn’t put it down.
Shame-less: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber took me by surprise. This one will challenge you and it’s not often I feel conservative as a reader. Bolz-Weber examines our ideas of sex, gender and our bodies. I resonated with so much of what she said, and was really challenged by other parts. She brings up points I want to continue to examine for myself and in it all there is so much grace and hope. It sparked a really interesting multi-generational conversation about sex, purity culture and sexuality with some of my favorite women and it has encouraged me to really start to think about what messages I am and will teach my children about this topic.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. You guys. You all know my feelings about The Hate U Give. Thomas has done it again. I loved Bri and her friends and family. Bri is an aspiring rapper who finds herself in a viral moment that leaves her infamous and misunderstood but also opens the kind of career doors she’s always wanted. It was charming, thought-provoking and entertaining. Thomas creates characters you feel like you intimately know and understand even when they do things you don’t, and who are incredibly endearing even in their honest flaws. I loved it.
Worth mentioning: I read the latest in Robert Galbraith’s (aka JK Rowling) Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White and I continue to be all in on this series. A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult wasn’t perfect, but it gave me so much to think about with regard to the topic of abortion. And, because of a podcast I’ll mention later, I returned to two of my favorite Judy Blume books, Just as Long as We’re Together and Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson and I saw so much of myself in one of the characters that I completely understood why I loved it so much then.
This show is not even a little new, but what the crap, how did I miss Brooklyn 99? I binged this so hard in January, flying through almost all of the seasons in a month. If you love Parks and Rec, The Office and 30 Rock, this will fill that void. The characters are delightful and endearing and hilarious.
I also finally got all caught up on Blackish which is so smart and funny. I adore the Johnson family. This show does a great job of handling tough issues and current events with such thoughtful, poignant nuance, while also being hilarious.
Queer Eye season three. Oh I can’t with this show. It gets me every time. I plowed through season three and I cried more than once. Jones Bar-B-Q (episode 3) will give you life, Black Girl Magic (episode 5) will make you cry (but not as hard as Elrod and Sons (episode 6) will) and my favorite was Sloth to Slay, which I watched with a goofy grin on my face as the makeover-ee learned to socialize at a Kansas City Anime club. (Also, all you really need to know about me is that when I need to hope in the world again I watch the last 10 minutes of God Bless Gay (season 2 episode 1) where the devoutly religious woman gives a blessing and charge over each of the men and they (and I) all sob.) Aside from do-gooding and makeover-ing, I think the best part of this show is the way that it puts loving, affectionate, male friendship on display, something we don’t see a lot of.
My longtime internet girl crush Laura Tremaine came out with a new podcast Ten Things to Tell You and it’s so good! The podcast is meant to spark thought and conversation and almost every episode is a prompt to take to your journal or girlfriends. I’ve used her prompts to write a blog post and a group of girlfriends and I have been texting our own responses to her questions with each other. I particularly loved episode 2: are you lonely?, episode 5: tell me about your teachers, episode 6: Revisiting Judy Blume (see the connection to my book choices above :) ), and episode 8: movie director Jeff Tremaine has things to tell you. But the best one, hands down has been episode 7: what are you assuming about others? This made me rethink so much in terms of what I assume!
I’ve heard a lot about Pantsuit Politics (and am currently in the middle of their book I Think You’re Wrong, But I’m Listening) and I don’t know what took me so long to press play, but man I wish I’d been on this train for longer. Beth and Sarah are SO good and they will give you so much hope for the future of politics. Obviously their bi-partisan, listening to each other, relationship over policy approach is right up my ally and I’m all in on them.
Lastly, this is a very obvious shameless plug, but I was a guest on a podcast in February and I am pretty proud of it. I was a guest on one of my favorite podcasts, The Sorta Awesome Show, to talk about how to be awesome at having tricky, polarizing conversations with grace. Check out episode 181, featuring yours truly.
That’s the best of what’s been in front of my eyeballs and in my earbuds. What about you?? What are you reading/watching/listening to?