Read, Watched, Listened

I love reading just about everything (okay, you won't see any mystery or sci-fi picks on here), watching things, especially if they make me think but especially if they can make me laugh, and wholeheartedly embrace the podcast. I also enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, watching, and listening. Here's my two cents worth.

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George and Lizzie
I heard lots of people hyping this novel up, but I never really got into it. I found George and Lizzie's entire relationship to be a little weird, and there was a whole sex thing from Lizzie's past that I found mostly strange and never quite fleshed out for me. Overall, the book was about marriage and how our past shapes what we think marriage and love should be. Which sounds great and super interesting but it never quite got there for me. Really, the problem was that I didn't care all that much about George or Lizzie to really get into it. The characters had so much potential, and it all fell flat. I was kind of disappointed.

Everything I Never Told You
After Little Fires Everywhere, I immediately hopped on the waiting list for this one. Celeste Ng really shines with creating character portraits -- this one about a Chinese American (well, the father is Chinese, the mother American) in the 1970s. I found the exploration of what it means to be in a mixed family, especially for the children, to be fascinating. It was also an interesting exploration of family overall, as it detailed out the relationships between mother and daughters, father and son, sisters and brother throughout the course of the book.

An American Marriage
I might be broken inside, because I did not have the overwhelmingly positive response to this book that everyone else seems to have. I found most of the characters to be downright dislikable, the writing took a turn in the middle that didn't pay off for me, and, to be perfectly honest, I wonder if I just couldn't relate to the characters in the book because of their blackness. While I won't spoil anything of the plot, I didn't connect to either Roy or Celestial in the story. The characters had so much going for them, and I love me a good flawed character, but these flawed characters had no redeeming qualities for me. I just didn't understand them. However I couldn't stop thinking about this book for a solid week after I finished, so maybe I'm not giving it the credit it deserves.

The Locals
I found this novel and the writing to be fascinating. It's admittedly depressing - every single person in the just-barely-post 9/11 town of Howland, Massachusettes basically hates their lives - but all in such different, interesting ways. The author, Jonathan Dee, does an amazing job weaving their lives together and giving us background details on so many different people. It wasn't a happy read, but it was certainly a fascinating one.

Glory in the Ordinary
I was a bit wary of this book before I opened it. Even as a stay-at-home mom, I'm a bit skeptical of anything that smacks of "staying home is the only acceptable way to be a Christian woman", but I am so pleased to report that this book was not that. I really give credit to the author, Courtney Reissig, for encouraging all moms in their own work, whether of the stay-at-home or working mom variety. In the end she encourages all women in their work of the home - we all have a home to take care of at the end of the day regardless of any outside or paid work we do - and picking up those toys, cooking those dinners, and washing those dishes yet again matter to every one of our families. She also gave examples of a variety of moms: a part-time working mom, a full-time working mom, and a stay at home mom, which again I really appreciated from a book I initially thought might only sing the virtues of always-in-the-home mothers. I give Courtney full credit for recognizing the realities and complexities of our modern families and encouraging all of us in what seems to be our never-ending work of the home.

So. Freaking. Good. A group of friends recommended this one and I finally bought it and was not disappointed. Literally one of my new favorite books. Ever. It's a novel about hockey that's not really about the hockey. (It also doesn't hurt that my hometown of White Bear Lake is a bit fanatical about hockey and has our very own team of "da Bears".) I loved every single thing about this book. I swear Fredrick Backman is secretly a psychiatrist; he captured the emotions and deep truths behind everyone in the book from 15-year old girls to the working mom to the old hockey coach. I can't recommend this one enough. I am a serial re-reader, and I guarantee I will be coming back to this one again and again. (And one note, I found the plot to be strangely similar to Jodi Picoult's The Tenth Circle. They're very different books overall, mostly because Picoult's version is part graphic novel, but the main plot point - same. Pretty much exactly.)


Queer Eye
I am 100% here for this reboot. The Fab Five are adorable, lovable, and absolutely kill it every time. I also appreciate the candor and honesty from both the Five and the men they makeover. While I haven't finished the season, they've talked about homosexuality in the church, the tension between black Americans and the police, and sexism in really beautiful, insightful (if not always deep - each episode is only around 40 minutes) ways. I appreciate how they educate without judging, and everyone comes to a greater understanding of one another at the end of each episode. I literally finish watching every one with a smile on my face.

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction
Such an interesting show. Okay, so far I've only watched the Obama one but it was so. good. I love how Letterman has defined a new version of the talk show: just a stage, himself, and his guest. It's honest, truthful, and funny. I'm also 100% here for Letterman's facial hair. Also, I just discovered that his most recent guest was Malala Yousafzai and OMG I need to go watch right freaking now.


The Popcast
Two-thirds of the way through March and we're still living through the 2017-2018 Winter That Will Never End. I think I'm looking for sunshine, joy, and happiness wherever I can find it these days to compensate for our dreary weather and The Popcast is all of that. Not only do I feel more informed on all things pop culture, (which I was lacking in knowledge of even before becoming a mom) but Knox and Jamie are just a joy to listen to. They're lighthearted, funny, and don't take themselves too seriously. It's a delightful escape.

Note: any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links.