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.
Women’s Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home
A memoir and exploration of childbirth, mothering, work, and balancing it all. While the author, Megan K. Stack, writes from her experience as a white woman raising children in China and India, much of it still resonated with me. The most interesting characters are her live-in help, who run the cooking, cleaning, and childcare of the household. My only complaint is that this book never quite “got there” for me. While she grapples with the idea of being white and privileged (with the advantage of being able to hire housework and childcare out), I felt she missed an opportunity to dive in deeper, particularly in discussing the patriarchy. (And I hope her husband is better in real life than the way he came across in this book.)
The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work”
This is a quick but potent read. You can read it in an evening. I loved her poetic reflections on the mundane tasks in life - particularly as they relate to the home and mothering. Her opening scene, where she is struck by the priest “doing the dishes” the first time she was in a Catholic church, is a scene that has stuck with me.
Gone With the Wind (re-re-read)
I love this book. I KNOW it’s problematic in its view of slavery and Reconstruction and the Civil War. I KNOW. Yet I still love it. Has there ever been a more nuanced character in all of literature than Scarlett O’Hara? LOVE. HER.
The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe
I borrowed the e-book from the library but I really need to buy it because I could have underlined just about every page. Richard Rohr packs so much power into his sentences that I often have to read them over again to get the full meaning of his words. If you’re tired of the church’s whole “we’re in and they’re out” message then this book is for you. Everybody’s in, baby.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
This book was already on my library holds list and then I saw it on Obama’s list of summer reads; I was so ready for it. And it’s good. It’s gut-wrenchingly good at points. Yet similar to Women’s Work I didn’t think it quite got there on the whole privilege front (Stephanie Land may have been poor but she is white, after all). She’s a very phenomenal essayist - the scenes she evoked were so powerful - and yet I felt the book completely lacked introspection. Short version: worth the read; please think critically about what you’ve read.
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
I can’t believe this was only my first Barbara Brown Taylor book. She’s lovely. I mean, I don’t know her in person, but I’m pretty sure she’s lovely. She discusses the acts of worship in our every day - hanging up laundry, walking, etc. - and I was endeared to her immediately when she confessed to struggling with her prayer life (what prayer life?). Her idea that prayer is so much more than speaking directly to God with words - that prayer is in our emotions, and our actions, and even our very being - has stuck with me.
A Wrinkle in Time (re-read)
I needed a light read from the library, and this happened to be available. I haven’t read it since I was a child…late elementary school? Middle school maybe? I find it so fun to revisit these books as an adult. You don’t need me to tell you about it. This book is a delight. (Though did anyone see the movie? I saw that it’s on Netflix now. I mean, Oprah is in it. But is it worth it?)
My favorite types of novels are family dramas, full stop. That’s exactly what this is. The beginning was slightly confusing to me (I struggled to understand who everyone was and where we were in the timeline as it shifted) but I caught on eventually. I love the characters, I love who emerged from the pack, and I love the mysterious details that become revealed to us over the course of the novel. I’m the dissenting voice that often finds Ann Patchett’s voice insufferable (I know). I went in not knowing anything about this book and emerged realizing it was just exactly what I wanted to read.
I Miss You When I Blink: Dispatches From a Relatively Ordinary Life
This is another one I need to buy because holy shit I could have done a lot of underlining. These essays on, well, basically everything in life are by turns funny, serious, relatable, and just the best. I don’t even have the words to describe this book because she took them all. Basically, I want to write like Mary Laura Philpott when I grow up.
Aziz Ansari: Right Now
I was skeptical going into this one but left feeling moved. That he tackles his sexual misconduct at all is heartening. While I think there were parts he could have handled better, my overall impression was positive. He had a whole section where he talked about growth and change as a person; that if we’re the same person we were 10 years ago, we’re doing it wrong, that he hopes he looks back in 10 years to himself right now and thinks, “What was I thinking?” I’ve taken that with me and have been ruminating on it for weeks now.
Jim Gaffigan: Quality Time
I adore Jim Gaffigan. I love this special. I have no big words to say about it. Go watch it. You’ll laugh. That is all.
This documentary blew my mind. While the filmmaker began this documentary to study up on doping and how it affects performance in sports, it quickly turned into something he didn’t expect: exposing the Russian doping scandal in the Olympics. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a movie and all these things actually happened in real life. To say I was on the edge of my seat is less a cliche than the honest-to-God truth.
Period. End of Sentence.
Women + empowerment + ending shame surrounding menstruation (specifically in India) = this documentary. It’s a quick, riveting, uplifting watch. (Also it won the Oscar, and if a movie about menstruation can win the Oscar, you know it’s good.)
Wanda Sykes: Not Normal
I honestly didn’t (and still don’t) know that much about Wanda Sykes, but since we’re suckers for comedy specials we went for it. We liked it -she’s funny, sharp, and relevant. She did spend a LOT of time talking about President Trump at the beginning and while on the one hand, it was funny, I also kind of wish we could just talk (and joke) about something (ANYTHING) else.
We love docuseries. This one was full of ALL THE NOSTALGIA. It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite episode: the television ones (episodes 1 and 2) are epic, the one about the 2016 election and the 9/11 episode brought all the feels, and the music one was the absolute best way to round out and finish the entire series.
As far as I know I’ve never included The Daily here before. I’ve been listening to it off-and-on for awhile but recently it’s become an important piece in my morning routine. The impeachment-related episodes have been fascinating (even if I have to pause or re-listen to sections to fully digest what’s going on). For older, but still relevant episodes, I loved this one on the Democratic primary and this one about Parliament vs. Boris Johnson.
Note: any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links.