Well, it has certainly been a while! Since my last post, I ran a PR in the marathon at CIM, got engaged (!!!), traveled to Maui, Colorado, New York, London, and Paris (more on that to come in a later post). In conjunction with planning our wedding, I decided to take a much-needed break from running (more on that in a later post, too).
With my new found free-time, coupled with my intention to limit the time I spend on my phone, I’ve made a conscious effort to start reading and listening to more podcasts. Here are some of my favorites:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hanna: I’m not even really sure where to start with this book, because it touched me so much more than I thought it would. Last year I read and loved All the Light We Cannot See, which opened my eyes to the Nazi occupation of France in WWII. The Nightingale is also set in France during WWII but tells the story in parallel of two sisters and their respective roles in the war. The younger of the two goes on to help the French Resistance in a dangerous yet heroic fashion, helping downed airmen for the Allies get across to the Italian border. The older sister acts heroically in smaller, yet equally profound way but taking in her Jewish best friend’s baby after she is sent to a concentration camp. It is a heartbreaking story about love, resilience and finding your purpose. I can’t recommend it enough.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Do you love Reese Witherspoon? Could you sweep a Jeopardy category dedicated to her rom-com’s, like this contestant Emily did? Because I do, and I absolutely could. Anyway, when this book came out last year, Reese recommended it as part of her book club. I saw more and more good things and was pleasantly surprised by how much I did love this book. It’s about a mysterious, vagabond mom and daughter who move to the small town of Shaker Heights, Ohio and become intertwined in a well-known family. It’s themed around the complexities of race, motherhood, and family, and the author beautifully weaves all of these themes into the character relationships.
Crazy Rich Asians: A typical “beach read,” this is a fun, light read that is definitely more of a soap opera type book. If you want something fun and dramatic, with details about how rich just some people can be, I’d definitely recommend it. I liked it, but didn’t love it, and am struggling currently to get through the sequel.
Before We Were Yours: I love having a Kindle for the convenience of being able to buy books-on-demand, but (confession) I like reading ahead sometimes I also like to go back and re-read certain chapters if I get confused, or if I really like them. This book is definitely one that I wish I had in paper form; it’s a bit confusing at the beginning with a lot of characters being introduced at once, then switching back and forth between a story in the present day and one in the past. It didn’t make sense to me until about half-way through on how the two stories are connected, but once it was clear I couldn’t put the book down. Without giving too much away, it’s about a girl and her family who are deceitfully placed in an orphanage and their struggles at that time and in the future. All in all, it’s a unique, heartbreaking book about survival and trusting again after we’ve been hurt.
Dirty John: Remember how good the first Serial was? The murder-mystery about a man in Maryland accused of murdering his then high school girlfriend? And then S-Town, the story of John B. McLemore and one reporter’s discovery of his eclectic life? Well, if you Serial and S-Town, I think you’ll be equally as impressed with Dirty John. It tells the story of Debra Newell, a middle-aged woman living in Orange County who quickly falls in love with a man she met online, John. When her grown adult children meet John and observe more about his peculiar lifestyle, they raise the alarm to their mom, only to find her aloof to their concerns. The story get’s even more intense as we learn more about John, and let’s just say I finished it in 3 days and fell into a Google hole shortly after I finished looking for more.
Pop Culture Happy Hour: This podcast makes me truly happy. Hosted by Linda Holmes she is regularly joined by Glen Weldon and Stephen Thompson with another person in the 4th-chair. Every week the podcast reminds me of a group of friends getting together, discussing the latest movies and TV shows they’ve seen. Which, is exactly what this is.
Fresh Air: It’s no secret that I absolutely love Terri Gross. I think she is simply brilliant; the way she can press someone to answer her while interviewing them, yet also show compassion and empathy. I also love her range of topics, from celebrities to authors to former secretaries of state. My favorite episodes as of late are actor Brian Tyree Henry (with a clip of Terri’s interview with Barbara Bush in 1994), James Comey, Todd Purdum on his new book about Rogers & Hammerstein, Being Jewish in Trump’s America, and Sarah McBride, the first transgender person to speak at a major party’s convention who was also an Obama intern. If you had to pick just one, I would listen to Sarah McBride. She has an amazing story about how she came out as trans shortly after college to overwhelming support, then married a man who had terminal cancer and is now a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign.
The Daily: Disclaimer: For a while, I didn’t love The Daily. There, I said it. Now that’s out of the way, I’m back into it but don’t listen to it daily (see what I did there?) I like the episodes that are about random stories I don’t think I would have heard otherwise, not necessarily the ones about the latest news. As I’m getting back into it, my favorites so far are Linda Brown’s Landmark case, the story of the young African-American girl at the center of the Brown v. Board of Education supreme court case in 1954 and Fired Over an Instagram Post, an ex-New Orleans Saints cheerleaders’ story about clear double standards when it comes to the NFL. While very different, I like the storytelling in both and find both topics to be equally relevant in the climate we live in today.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen in my stories the book debacle of 2018 when I found Exit West on the sidewalk near the Embarcadero. I went back for it 90 minutes later and it was still there, so I decided it was a sign and I took it. And, thanks to all of you for telling me it was a sign, too 🙂 Anyway, I’m planning to start reading it this weekend after I finish My Name is Lucy Barton. I’ll do a full recap of both when I’m done, soon 🙂