This past month saw a surprise trip home, my first tattoo, and lots of interesting surprises and developments. I’ve also been busy writing book #2, so some reading had to take a bit of a backseat. Make sure you’re paying attention to my reading lists, though, you just might be able to guess what book 2 is all about.
Jump in to read all about it, and check out what to pack in your backpack for the new school year!
Zealot: A Book About Cults by Jo Thornely
1 sentence synopsis: The host of the Zealot: A podcast about cults podcast returns to her written roots in this collection of true crime stories about, well, cults.
Review: Despite what I said about the written word above, this is worth the more expensive audio version. Thornely may have begun her career as a writer, but her humor is simply made for the ear. Surprisingly charming and humorous, without disrespecting the victims, Thornely has composed a series of narratives that solidify her as one of the leading true crime voices, and for good reason.
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang
1 sentence synopsis: If you haven’t watched The Arrival starring Amy Adams (icon) and Jeremy Renner (slightly less iconic but still amazing), do that, and then read Chiang’s second story collection from the same mind.
Review: Overall, this was an incredible collection. I really enjoyed the stories that felt less like stories, and more like tiny windows into yet-unseen realities, fragments of ordinary time sent to us from the future. Arrival has to be one of the most beautiful movies made in recent years and I’m excited to read Chiang’s debut as soon I’m able.
In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps by Rob Schlegel
1 sentence synopsis and review: A simple and sweet poetry collection honoring nature, genderless existence, and finding the true nature of the self.
One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad
1 sentence synopsis: With calm attention, the legendary Norwegian reporter turns her gaze to the 2011 bombing and massacre committed by Anders Breivik.
Review: At once broad and deep, Seierstad is able to apply care to the nuance of Breivik’s socialization while turning a wide eye to the political climate of Norway in 2011. Deeply disturbing, heart-wrenching, and powerful, the best part of this narrative is that Seierstad neither grants permission to Breivik for his violence, nor accepts it as an innate deficit of his. She understands and explains the violence that is both outside of us and caused by us.
Looking Ahead: August
For many, school is already back in session. Bummer! Us up in Washington still have a month before we’re drug back to the classroom. Regardless of where you (or your kids) are in your academic journey, there are some great books out there to keep in your backpack or to teach you something new.
If you’re headed off to college: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan – A poignant reflection on college and the rest of adulthood written by a Harvard Grad tragically killed a day after her commencement.
If you’re a parent already sick of the pickup line drama – Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple – A suburban mom disappears after a planned trip to Antarctica after tiring from soccer-mom drama.
If you have a crush on a professor – Eventide by Therese Bohman – Juggling what it means to be a woman in academia, in all its complexity, a Swedish art professor realizes her life may be falling apart faster than she can put it together.
If you want to make your smart friends jealous – Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman – A grab bag of writers confront the occupation of Gaza by Israeli forces in essays that will make you cry, scream, and ultimately cheer.
What to Listen to and Watch
Songland (NBC, Hulu) – This competition series peels back the curtain behind the world’s biggest hits. Songwriters pitch their songs to award winning artists, and, with the help of the industry’s biggest producers, might just be awarded their words being sung by the world’s greats.
Can I Touch It? (Netflix) – Whitney Cumming’s new stand up set questions the future of humanity in one of the most innovative specials since Nanette.
The Boys (Amazon Prime) – This sci-fi series elevates superheroes to the real world – as corrupt politicians and juicy celebrities.
My Favorite Murder – The iconic podcast hit returns with new episodes this Thursday after the first ever month-long vacation.
Nightmare Society – Scary, bite-sized stories to listen to as you dream of summer campfires come and gone
Let’s Go to Court! – Two almost-lawyers provide… expert… commentary on legendary court cases in equal tones humorous and harrowing.
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