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Read, Watched, Listened

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.

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READ
A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Searching for Sunday
I’ve written about these before, but today I post them as a tribute to Rachel Held Evans. She has been an essential voice in my faith journey and to hear about her death this past Saturday was beyond devastating. (Such unwelcome news in sharp contrast to the sunny t-ball game I was watching; opening Instagram to post a t-ball photo only to find Sarah Bessey’s announcement at the top.) I had begun re-reading Searching for Sunday within days of learning Rachel Held Evans was in the hospital; I’m working through A Year of Biblical Womanhood now. I plan to read through Inspired again as well, and to tackle Evolving in Monkey Town for the very first time. It’s my own (very) small tribute to the life of a woman I loved and respected so much from afar.

And Now We Have Everything
While I enjoyed this memoir, what I think I loved more was this article inspired by the book and how we need more “memoirs of regular lives”. The book chronicles the author’s unexpected pregnancy and transition to new motherhood in some of the most real terms I’ve ever read. It’s relatable primarily because the subject matter is so ordinary - and it’s the ordinariness that makes it so vivid and real.

The Man Who Ate Everything
This book was a joy to read. I love everything food-related, and Jeffrey Steingarten talks about food so brilliantly as he bounces around from one food obsession to the next, from sourdough bread to french fries.

Almost Everything
I saw someone once describe Anne Lamott as a “feminist C.S. Lewis”, and that sounds about right to me. She tackles faith and hope and the actual logistics of life with such wisdom and humor it’s hard not to love her. In this book she gives us a reason to hope and reminds us of the good things in life. It’s a perfect book for the time we’re in. (P.s. She recently got married for the very first time and I just love everything about it so much.)

Walking on Water
Speaking of feminists, I think it’s safe to call Madeline L’Engle one after reading her thoughts on so-called “Christian art” in this classic book. As a writer, this is one I will continue to return to. She cuts through much of the lame ideas surrounding Christian art and I’ve been quoting the line “If it's bad art, it's bad religion, no matter how pious the subject” every single chance I get.

Belong To Me
This novel was a re-re-read for me. I needed something easy and uplifting and this book is it. It chronicles three neighbors and how their lives intersect through family dynamics, death, grief, parenting, and societal standards. Any book that makes me fall in love with the characters is a book I’m willing to come back to over and over again.

The Middle Place
This is Kelly Corrigan’s memoir of her journey with breast cancer and her father’s simultaneous journey with his own cancer diagnosis. I really don’t know how to describe her writing: she’s real and raw and funny and bares her whole self to us. This book is about life and death, sickness and health, of being both parent and child at the same time. It’s wonderful.
Lift
I read this while waiting for my hold to come up on The Middle Place. It’s an easy yet complex, funny, wonderful memoir of motherhood. I read this short book in one sitting and wished it went on far longer. Basically Kelly Corrigan is the writer I want to be when I grow up.

When Breath Becomes Air
I’ve been hearing about this book since it was published in 2016, and now I know why. This memoir chronicles Paul Kalanithi’s late-stage cancer diagnosis just as he is on the verge of completing medical school (specializing in neurosurgery). He quickly goes from doctor to patient, then back again. It’s a fascinating snapshot of his life and the process of making life decisions in the face of death. The book certainly feels unfinished since he ultimately passed before it’s completion, and left me wondering what else he had to say. His widow’s epilogue is both a beautiful and heartbreaking way to end the book.

Multiples Illuminated
I’ve been wanting to read this collection of essays for awhile - it’s so hard to find anything multiples-specific! It was fine; like most essay collections, some were written much better than others. In the end it was relatable for me and left me wanting to write more about my own motherhood journey with twins.

Delancey
I guess I was on a memoir kick for the past two months or so. I can’t remember where I first encountered Molly Wizenberg - possibly through her blog, Orangette? I was hooked on her voice, but somehow this book got pushed to the back of my reading list. I finally got to it and loved reading about her journey in opening a pizza restaurant with her husband. (Warning: you will be craving wood-fired pizza throughout the entire book.) It also made me absolutely never want to open a restaurant.

WATCHED
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
We’ve been working through this one for a couple months now. It is delightful. This is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and the dialogue (while sometimes overly-scripted) is fun and witty. I wish it would delve into Mrs. Maisel’s role as a mother more (really those poor kids seem like an afterthought, why are they even there?) but the show is so entertaining I’m willing to look past that.

Knock Down the House
This documentary focuses on four women taking on Democratic incumbents in primary races - most notably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s clear from the beginning that she has the kind of charisma and intelligence people are drawn to. It’s a well-done look at their races and reasons for running. I didn’t need any more reasons to cheer on AOC, but this definitely gives me a fuller picture of her own political journey.

LISTENED

The Liturgists Podcast
I know, I just linked to them last time, but combine The Liturgists with Richard Rohr and I am ALL. IN. There are two parts. It’s long. I’ve already listened through them both twice. It’s so much food for thought based on Richard Rohr’s new book. I love him so much. Just listen and then find someone to talk to about it.

On Second Thought: The Trevor Noah Podcast
People, I literally downloaded the Luminary app purely so I can listen to this podcast. For anyone who’s watched his “between the scenes” clips from The Daily Show, that’s what this podcast reminds me of. Trevor Noah talks about news in such a smart, fresh, entertaining way. In the first episode, he brought in Tiger Woods’ own memoirist to talk about Woods’ recent Masters win. I don’t even care much about Tiger Woods, yet the conversation was fascinating.

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

Read, Watched, Listened

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.

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READ

Rising Strong
This was my first Brene Brown book and it definitely lived up to the hype. (I KNOW, OKAY. Listen, I tried a few years ago but my holds for her books all came up like IMMEDIATELY after Nolan was born. I tried, but my brain just couldn’t hold on to any of Brene’s goodness while in a newborn fog.) I’m fairly familiar with her work, but this one really dug into the specifics of rising from a professional or personal hurt. I’m still thinking about the idea of rumbling with my own stories on an almost daily basis. She’s brilliant.

Braving the Wilderness
Of course, when one of my holds comes up they all seem to, so onto another Brene book it was! This time she dove into the idea of true belonging, which she defines as “...the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world…True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” Essentially it’s about braving our own vulnerability - our own wilderness - to emerge on the other side even more whole and connected than before. It’s beautiful and so very relevant to the current social climate we’re living in.

Still
SO GOOD. I think I’m reading Lauren Winner’s books out of order (I’m still on hold for her first - Girl Meets God) but that didn’t matter. This book was just lovely, Anyone who has gone through any sort of spiritual wrestle will appreciate this one. Anyone who love writing will appreciate her beautiful prose, too.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places
This book took me a little while to get into, but I loved it in the end. I can’t argue with Shannan’s main idea - to embody love right exactly where we have been placed in the world. Her entire premise reminds me so strongly of Bob Goff’s books - he writes all the time about “becoming love”. And that is exactly what Shannan calls us to do, to develop meaningful relationships right in the community around us. Reading her book made me want to jump right in to help in every organization in my community - though I’m going to pace myself and pick just one to start with. :)

The Best American Food Writing of 2018
The title isn’t lying. Seriously the BEST food writing. I adored each and every piece in this book. The topics range from the soybean harvest to the NBA’s sandwich addiction to oranges to science and political issues surrounding food. I mean, I love food and I love reading about food, so I wasn’t exactly a hard sell. Ha!

Becoming
Believe the hype. This is an intimate, powerful, gorgeous read. I especially appreciated reading so much about Michelle Obama’s own backstory since I didn’t know much going into it. I can’t add much more to this book than what’s already been said. Just read it.

WATCHED

Son of Patricia
Tyson and I love us some Trevor Noah and this comedy special delivered. (We watched it not long before Christmas, and little did Tyson know that his present was tickets to Trevor Noah’s live show when he comes here in February. I giggled a little every time he said, “He’s so funny! This is so good!” And was also proud of myself for keeping my mouth shut!) Anyway, Trevor Noah is hilarious, and for us this special was the perfect date night in.

Top Chef
IT’S BACK! Top Chef is the only “reality” show Tyson and I can stand. (Okay, I will also take some Real Housewives, though Tyson draws a hard line there.) This year’s contestants are phenomenal, as always, and I’m enjoying the Kentucky location more than I thought I would. Bring on the Southern food!

LISTENED

The Axe Files
I know I’ve linked to David Axelrod’s show before, but I had to give it a shout-out again for his live show with Barack Obama (episode 288). It was the perfect reminder of all that a president is supposed to embody: leadership, class, intelligence, and a clear vision for the future. All topped off with Obama’s own signature brand of wry humor.

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

Favorites of 2018

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These high-rise underwear.

This swimsuit.

These earrings.

This face cream. (I mostly use it as a night/eye cream and wake up in the morning with the softest skin.)

These joggers. (They’re lightweight and also have NO DRAWSTRING, which I prefer but is almost impossible to find.)

This variety pack of herbal teas. (Along with most of their products- use this referral link to try it for yourself!)

I read so many great novels this year, but these are the ones that will stick with me: This satirical-yet-serious one. The one that broke me. This brilliant one. ALSO THIS ONE AND THIS ONE. *cue all the emojis*

And for nonfiction: I keep thinking about this memoir. Also this one. This one which spoke so much to my own heart (curse words and all). Also this one and this one which I should read a little of each day because they’re packed full of simple truth.

These slippers.

The best high-rise jeans.

The shows I can’t stop talking about: this comedy special. We were obsessed with this series. But this one most of all.

This hair tool.

This stew. This bread. This pasta (I sub chicken-apple sausage for the shrimp). These kabobs (I add mushrooms and they are YUM.)

Things I wrote this year: The one that still makes me tear up when I read it (that’s normal with your own writing, right?). The one where I bared my soul. This little ditty I wrote in an hour one morning. The one about our household obsession this year. The one where I went back to my design roots. This one might be my favorite of all.

Read, Watched, Listened

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.

I got slammed with library holds the past couple of months - it took all I had just to try to keep up! Writing up quick reviews (ha!) this time, so I can get back to the other books loaned out to me.

How I’ve been keeping up on reading lately: surrounded by small children, blankets, and stuffed animals during our afternoon screen time break.

How I’ve been keeping up on reading lately: surrounded by small children, blankets, and stuffed animals during our afternoon screen time break.

READ

Tell Me More
This book was so. good. Kelly Corrigan is such a wonderful storyteller, and I loved how she candidly interwove stories (by turns hilarious, sad, and serious) with the twelve words and phrases she is working to use more frequently.

The Book of Essie
I was really looking forward to reading this novel, but didn’t love it. It was easy enough to read, but I guessed virtually all of the major plot points long before they were ever officially revealed (er…surprise?). It did have a satisfying ending, in a rom-com sort of way.

The Opposite of Hate
A very interesting read given the tensions of our current political and social climate. Sally Kohn (a progressive commentator on Fox and CNN - I don’t watch the news but maybe you know of her?) walks through various expressions of hate, from childhood bullying to genocide, and wrestles with the roots of hate, racism, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Happiness
This memoir about motherhood, illness, and relationships was so beautifully written. The author’s experiences in these areas were vastly different than me own, yet I couldn’t stop reading and relating to her anyway.

Like a Mother
I would have been more fascinated by this book if I had read it during my first pregnancy. Many of the things the author discusses (how miraculous breast milk is, the fact that a fetus leaves behind cells in a mother’s body and just what the hell are they doing there anyway?) were things I already knew about, so those sorts of revelations lost their power for me. I do think this book would make a great gift for a newly pregnant or first time mom.

Inspired
Overall I loved Rachael Held Evan’s new book. The idea of looking at the Bible through the lens of storytelling — and discussing the power of storytelling itself — is such an important one. I could, however, have done without the re-telling of Biblical stories at the beginning of each chapter. They didn’t add anything to the book for me.

That Kind of Mother
I had mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, I enjoyed the writing and storytelling. On the other hand, some of the characters and plot (or lack of) didn’t do it for me. It was a story ripe for something to happen - white family adopts the baby of their black nanny after the nanny dies - but I don’t think it quite got there for me in the end.

A Spark of Light
I LOVE Jodi Picoult. Like, one of my top three all-time authors. I didn’t love this book. I may have known too much about the story already going in (see the podcast recs below), but IMO this was not her writing at it’s best. Also, as a book about a shooting/hostage situation, it was VERY TENSE, which may not have been the best choice of book to read in the last few days leading up to the midterm elections. #mybad

Glitter and Glue
A Kelly Corrigan memoir of her time nannying one summer in Australia. Her writing is interesting enough (though I don’t think this is a book I could ever read again - which is typically the hallmark of a great book to me), but what kept me interested was the narrative that came forward about her mother, and how getting away from her made her appreciate and understand her mother all the more.

WATCHED

Nanette
Watch it. Watch it now. And then do what I did and make your husband immediately watch it with you the next night. To say this is a comedy special does not do it justice. It’s a feminist, LGBTQ, #metoo manifesto.

Chef’s Table (Season 5)
You know I love this series. Watch it. Start at the beginning and watch it now. (Or at least after you’re done with Nannette.)

Lady Bird
We (or at least I) are not big movie people, so you know it’s a Big Freaking Deal when I list a movie on here. Tyson and I enjoyed this coming-of-age, mother-daughter-tensions, character-drive, drama-ish movie. It was up for a bunch of Oscars a couple years ago and it was free on Amazon Prime so win-win for us.

LISTENED

Pod Save America
I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned this one here before! These guys - former Obama staffers - deep dive into politics and the news of the week. I particularly enjoyed their recap this week of the midterm elections, where they had an insightful conversation on the meaning (or lack of meaning) of results on election night and the blue wave that was. (!!!)

For the Love
I’ve said before that while I love me some Jen Hatmaker, I’m not a huge fan of her podcast. That said, she had two STELLAR episodes recently. One with Kelly Corrigan, the other with Jodi Picoult. They were both chock full of wisdom nuggets on life and writing that I know I will come back to again.

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

Read, Watched, Listened

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.

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READ

The Course of Love
This novel was a beautiful read. It details the married life of a couple, beginning with how they met and their courtship, and continues on decades into their marriage. The narrative is interspersed with short essays on love and relationships which are just as true and inspiring and interesting as the novel itself.

What is the Bible?
I adore Rob Bell. This book about reading and interpreting the Bible - reading it “literately” instead of “literally” - is so refreshing for my soul to read. His breakdown of the type of books in the Bible and historical context is both helpful and fascinating.

Educated
I had to dive in since this book was blowing up my social media feed. It wasn’t quite what I expected - I thought it was going to focus more on the author’s actual education - and she wasn’t exactly the heroine I expected her to be. That said, I adore memoirs, and this was an amazing read into a very different subgroup of American culture, if a bit more violent and traumatizing than I expected going into it.

Stay With Me
This. Book. I picked it up after reading the synopsis on the back cover to discover it covers themes I’m interested in, namely marriage, fidelity (or lack of), infertility, and family, but takes place in Nigeria. It’s a fascinating read that looks at these issues through the lens of another culture. In some ways these issues are remarkably the same, in others they are vastly different. And I was not at all prepared for the surprise revelation towards the end.

Fates and Furies
The language in this book is beautiful. I’ve seen some reviews that describe the book as pretentious, and, well, I can’t really argue with that. I guess I had a theme the past month or so, since this novel is another that explores the marriage of two people over a number of decades. I adore books that explore both sides to a story and really dig into multiple character’s backgrounds. That said I almost stopped reading about halfway through. I got really bogged down in the middle third of the book, though it grabbed my attention again enough to finish.

The Female Persuasion
I could not put this book down, yet I can’t put my finger exactly on why. I enjoyed reading it so much, despite the nagging feeling that it felt flawed. I’m sure it had something to do with the strong feminist themes - hello, you’re preaching to the choir here - and it was interesting to see critiques of the older feminist in the book (Faith Frank) vs. the newer one (Greer Kadetsky). I can’t get into a book unless it has well-written characters, and the people in the book were likable enough. I thought the plot even meandered a bit before tidying itself mostly up at the end. But again, for a book that felt flawed, I couldn’t stop reading it. This is possibly the most underwhelming review ever, but if anyone else has read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

WATCHED

Friday Night Lights
To be honest we’re stalled out near the end of the first season. Should we keep watching? I do love Coach and Tammy Taylor, but I’m not sure if I can keep handling the high school drama. Is it worth it in the end? Do we have to get through the first season and all the set-up to get to the good stuff? Please let me know.

Vox Borders (Hong Kong)
Borders is my favorite series that Vox puts out. The 5-episode Hong Kong series is so interesting, and covers everything from the silly (neon lights) to the sad (cage homes). Short episodes mean these are a must watch. And Johnny Harris has just put out that his next location for the Borders series is going to be Columbia - coming soon!

Demetri Martin - The Overthinker
I haven’t watched Demetri Martin for awhile. You need to know what you’re getting into. Short, snappy, unrelated sentences, one seguing right into the other. I do enjoy him, though his drawings section is the best part of the skit for me, every time.

LISTENED

Slow Burn
I don’t even know where to start with this one. I just finished Season 1 (Watergate. Season 2 focuses on Bill Clinton.) As someone who knows a lot about Watergate, fact-wise, but obviously didn’t live through it, the interviews and exploration of society and emotions at the time it happened are fascinating. And (ahem) it’s all very relevant to our current political climate. The parallels are just amazing.

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