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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

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.

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.

We're doing it quick and dirty this time around - I've been an even bigger bookworm than usual!!

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READ

Girl, Wash Your Face
For some reason I thought it wasn't going to be applicable to me (I somehow got it in my head that it was geared toward professional, working women). Anyway, some of it I love, but I lot of it I took issue with. I even started following Rachel Hollis on Instagram and almost immediately had to unfollow her account. We’d have to sit face-to-face for me to tell you much more, but I guess the overwhelming feeling I got from the book (and her IG) was that it was disingenuous.

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter
Funny yet poignant essay collection from the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada. Honestly could take it or leave it. Three stars.

How to Walk Away
Meh. I felt like I should have cared about the main character more than I actually did. It went from serious to overly predictable. The last third was pure rom-com in book form.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads
Fascinating memoir of a Rwandan refugee - her memories of the war and what comes after. Read it and then try telling me we should lock our borders.

A Man Called Ove
Read it. Read it now. And then do what I did and immediately read it again.

Us Against You
The second in the Beartown trilogy. Not quite as good as the first but that didn't stop me from devouring it in two days. 

Love Lives Here
I adore the Goffs. This book is written in a very similar style to her husband's (personal life story with reflection on how it applies to our lives as Christians) that is so real, readable, and beautiful.

The New Jim Crow
This book will (and should) break you. 

Plan B
I think this might have been a re-read for me. I needed a dose of Anne Lamott to help me get through The New Jim Crow without completely losing my mind.

Rumors of Water
Not my favorite style of writing. It read like a lot of high and mighty rambling to me. I enjoyed a glimpse into another's creative process but ultimately found it hard to get through.

Tears We Cannot Stop (A Sermon to White America)
Are you white? Read this. Another one that is hard to read at times (in the very best of ways).

The Very Worst Missionary
I practically underlined this entire book. Though I'm not a missionary, she details so many of my thoughts with the personal faith-wrestle I am going through right now. Hilarious and full of truth. (Also saw a 1-star review where the reviewer bemoaned a Christian book dropping the f-bomb and other four-letter words and how could a Christian publisher let this happen? My thought: great! This is exactly the kind of book for me. Instant purchase. Thanks, 1-star, clutching-your-pearls reviewer.)

WATCHED

Ugly Delicious
I love David Chang and this documentary series about food is fascinating. He takes a deep-dive approach to everything from pizza to crawfish. My favorite episode so far has been Episode 2 about tacos. Not only did it make me crave tacos for the next two weeks but it unexpectedly advocated for immigrants in an interesting way. Who knew a show about food would be so relevant to our political climate right now?

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Rado City
SO FUNNY. We watched it for a date night in and it was just perfect. Absolutely hilarious without being overly vulgar or dirty. It was interesting, funny, and refreshing to hear a comedian do a bit without reverting to sex jokes the entire time.

Queer Eye: More Than A Makeover
Watch it. Watch the first episode and fall in love with Mama Tammye. Then just keep going and binge-watch it all. When the news feels like a bit much or you've had a long day, this is the show to turn to.

LISTENED

This American Life
I know, I know. I'm a late-comer to this one. My favorite so far has been episode 649: It's My Party and I'll Try If I Want To, which is a fascinating look into the Democratic Party and what one progressive candidate in New York is going through just to get on the ballot to potentially become elected.

Otherwise keeping up with my regular shows. I highly recommend keeping up with Pantsuit Politics' deep-dive into 9/11 and what it means for our post-September 11th world. You can find the first episode of this series here. Yes, it's hard to listen to. Do it anyway. I think it is so, so necessary. Especially if you're like me. It's been helping me to process something that I remember and was alive for, but at all of 14-years old never reflected on or really understood.

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