I love reading just about everything, watching comedy and documentary-type things, and wholeheartedly embrace the podcast. I also enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, watching, and listening. Here's my two cents worth.
No Ordinary Time
I haven't read a good history in awhile and so enjoyed Doris Kearns Goodwin's account of FDR's presidency during WWII. It was refreshing to read about a president who was actually well-liked and competent, especially in a time of crisis, and gave me hope for the future in a strange way. (I mean Trump won't be president forever, right?) It's a beast of a book that took me a few weeks to read, yet all so intriguing. Goodwin is a master at weaving together storylines that span Franklin's marriage to Eleanor, Eleanor's role as a first lady, and Franklin's relationship with Winston Churchill. This is how history textbooks should be written! (Also blew my mind to learn of the childcare centers Eleanor pushed for as the factories were opened up to women during wartime. Childcare that was reasonably priced and subsidized by the government, open 24-hours a day (night shift workers brought their children to sleep there), staffed by highly-trained childcare professionals in state-of-the-art facillities, and some even allowed women to pick up freshly prepared inexpensive meals each night once their shifts were over so the burden of cooking for their families was relieved. These centers flourished, yet were closed as soon as all the men returned home. *Insert all the mad/frustrated/sad emojis here*)
What We Talk About When We Talk About God
This was my first Rob Bell book and turned me into an immediate fangirl. I refrained from screenshotting every page to display on Instagram, but just barely. He takes on both culture and the church in equal measure to show how they both resist talking about God in any true, meaningful way. Most of all he shows how God is with us, for us, and ahead of us, and how understanding that can change our understanding of God and therefore our entire lives. Bell is so approachable (and even funny) which makes this a book I could gift to any friend, Christian, atheist or anywhere in-between.
Sarah Bessey is poetic and loving yet challenging. Another work that I had to refrain from plastering all over social media. Her ideas are many of my own, but actually solidified, coherent, and backed by her own study of Scripture. This is a book whose ideas, of course, appeal to me, and I would challenge anyone to read it who thinks the two words that make up the title are incompatible. This is a feminism that should be shouted from the rooftops.
The Rules Do Not Apply
Ariel Levy's memoir about her marriage, affair, late-term miscarriage, spouse's alcoholism, and subsequent divorce is an excellent example of writing the hard without making it perfect. It's not exactly a fun book to read, but a vastly interesting one as she chronicles these few years of her life. I did enjoy the descriptions of some of her more exotic writing assignments, but the raw emotional component is what made this book impossible to put down.
Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend
So after all of THOSE heavy-hitters, both in length and material, I went for something fun. Kevin Kwan's first two books in this trilogy chronicling an absurdly wealthy family and their just as wealthy friends was fascinating, funny, satirical, and brilliant. Reading these was a guilty pleasure that I felt anything but guilty about. Kwan's gift of detail left my imagination swirling with visions of palaces, clothing, and jewelry beyond any of my dreams. His insightful footnotes are just as important and funny to read as the chapters themselves. I enjoyed the first book more than the sequel, but I am still anxious for my name to come to the top of the hold's list at the library for the last book in the series, Rich People Problems.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: South Park is one of the best satirical looks at our culture and politics today. I know, I used to think it was all poop jokes and curse words, too. And it used to be. But the past five seasons or so have been hilariously on-point at exploring and exposing the hypocrisy in our society. It's hilarious, and yes, there are still some parts that I could do without (the poop and graphic death scenes have not disappeared). But overall it provides an actual nuanced look at issues in a very different way than any other source of media out there. Tyson and I will often be halfway through an episode before the lightbulb goes off and we realize that what they're actually talking about is gun control, Twitter, the NFL, or whatever issue is the current flavor of the week.
Besides that, we've been muddling around and watching a bit of everything, nothing consistently, ranging from The Great British Baking Show to This is Us. (But we're behind so don't tell me anything!)
A friend recommended this to me (thanks, Brittany!) and then suddenly I had a whole bunch of people around me talking about this show! I'm addicted. Two women, one from the left and one from the right, tackle issues and current events with, as they say, "plenty of nuance". It's actually amazing how much they agree. To be fair, Sarah leans more left while Beth is right-leaning but moderate. Yet when they speak I often have to think about who is talking because there is so much they truly do agree on, from gun control to paid family leave to the fact that our president is the definition of incompetent. Their show is intelligent, rational, and a voice of reason when our current culture often seems like anything but.
Note: any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links.