I love reading just about everything (okay, you won't see any mystery or sci-fi picks on here), watching things that make me think and especially if they 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.
Fear and Pure
I lumped these two together because I just couldn’t with either of them. I couldn’t finish either. Not because they were poorly written - not at all. It was the subject matter that didn’t do anything for my mental state. The first because, while none of the stories were exactly a surprise, reading about the pure stupidity of our president is not exactly a joyful experience. The second contained a bit more that surprised me, since the countless ways women have been shamed through conservative purity culture are truly disgusting. I had enough real-life familiarity with both subjects that I didn’t need to sit and subject my brain to any more of it. My righteous anger level is already at about an 8 these days, and these books pushed me all the way to about an 11. I had to stop for my own mental stability. (Hello Type 1-ness. If you’re an objective 5, like Tyson, you may fare far better with these reads!)
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
This book has been splashed all over my social media for the past year for good reason. Austin Channing narrates her own experience so beautifully, brutally, and viscerally. Is it a challenging read? In some ways. It’s not a book that sets out to make you feel comfortable. But it’s a very necessary read for anyone who is interested in racial justice today. (Which should be all of us, IMNSHO.)
Girl Meets God
While Lauren Winner’s writing style is beautiful, I had a harder time with this book than with Still. It was easier for me to relate to Still since that’s where I find myself in my own faith journey. The Jewish references in this book (it’s about her conversion from Judaism to Christianity) admittedly mostly went over my head, so that didn’t help.
I thought this book and Braving the Wilderness had a lot in common. (Just me? Am I crazy?) They both walk through the importance of vulnerability to create a sense of true belonging. Regardless, this is still a phenomenal reminder of the importance of vulnerability in creating connection. I could probably use basic reminders from Brené about how to be human just about every day!
A Place For Us
I had heard great things about this book and everyone was RIGHT. This novel was so good. My favorite type of novel is a family drama with strong, interesting characters, and this hit those notes perfectly. It’s also about a Muslim family, which was a refreshing change, and led me to Google different aspects of Muslim culture. Also Googling: recipes. I had mad cravings for Indian food while reading this book.
American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures
This collection of short essays from first and second-generation immigrants was fascinating. I will say that some of them were better at writing than others - I skimmed through some of the stories that were less compelling. (Including Lin Manuel-Miranda’s…how can you write the most amazing musical of the century but not a short-form essay dude?) Most chronicle their own coming-of-age type stories as they enter American culture as someone who is both American, but also not.
To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope
I think it’s fairly well known by now that President Obama read ten letters every evening, handpicked by the Office of Presidential Correspondence, as a way to help him keep in touch with what was going on in the country. Jeanne Marie Laskas compiled this book by doing interviews with President Obama, some letter writers, and the staff who worked in the correspondence office. The book itself combines personal stories, a history of how the White House post office works, and actual letters. Some of the letters were absolutely heartbreaking, some hard to read - I almost abandoned this book near the beginning while reading one regarding 9/11. By and large they were hopeful. The most compelling chapter was the one devoted to the day following the 2016 election. It brought me back to that time as I read the letters Obama received on that day, as well as the response of the White House staff.
Tattoos on the Heart: the Power of Boundless Compassion
This. Book. Fr. Gregory Boyle (or “G-dog” as he is known on the streets) is an amazing, angel of a person. This book talks about his work with Homeboy Industries, a ministry he began in Los Angeles in a neighborhood known as the gang capitol of the world. This book is essentially a series of parables, detailing the stories of some of the “homies” he has worked with and mentored over the years. This is another heartbreaking, powerful book. To use a Glennon Doyle-ism, it’s flat-out “brutiful”.
7 Days Out
I haven’t watched all the episodes in this series, but the ones on the Kentucky Derby, the Chanel fashion show, and the grand (re)opening of 11 Madison Park were all excellent. They also made this type-A planner sit on the edge of her seat as she wondered if everything could ever possibly get done in time. (Especially the 11 Madison Park one. THE PUNCH LIST they had the day before the opening made me want to cry.)
Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable
There is no way to sum Ellen DeGeneres up, other than that she is a pure delight. I love her. I’m still giggling over her opening skit about how “relatable” she is. This isn’t deep or intellectual or going to make you think that much. It’s just plain enjoyable.
FYRE: the Greatest Party That Never Happened
I know two Fyre documentaries recently exploded onto the scene; since we don’t have an account with Hulu, we went with the Netflix one. Watching this documentary was just as insane, mind-blowing, and unflinchingly critical as you’ve heard. It’s a must-watch, even if it was another thing to make my Type-A eyeballs bug out of my head.
The American Meme
I hadn’t heard of this one before Tyson recommended it. It’s an examination of social media influencer culture. It features interviews with several social media personalities, each with hundreds of thousands of followers, most notably Paris Hilton, who interestingly enough produced the documentary. The most despicable person featured (and you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about if you watch it) was also the one who probably had the most depth of character. I thought the whole thing could have gone deeper into the connections between social media and addiction in our culture, but it gave enough to fodder discussion between Tyson and I for days. (Warning: LOTS of nudity, due to the nature of one of the influencer’s, um, chosen type of influencing.)
The Liturgists Podcast
I’ve been on the fringes of The Liturgists bubble for awhile. OMG WHY DIDN’T I START LISTENING SOONER? They speak deep to my soul, and their mission to foster “compelling discussion, non-judgmental community, and thoughtful, evocative art” is exactly what I need right now. Their episodes on Man and Woman should be required listening or anyone who has a pulse, and the episode on the Enneagram was EXCELLENT, largely because Suzanne Stabile is an amazing teacher. (I know, they’re all crazy long. But so worth it!)
Note: any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links.