Monday, January 16, 2017



I love listening to podcasts and I actually consider it a small perk of my job that it gives me a quite 30 minutes in the car to listen to something without the chatter of small children making unreasonable requests or complaining about things I can't control ("Mooooooommmmmmy, the sun is bothering me!"). Anyway, right now I'm listening to a lot of the Folger Library's Shakespeare Unlimited podcasts because I'm teaching Shakespeare this semester and I like to learn things on the podcast and then casually mention them during class as though I actually learned them in graduate school or by doing scholarly research like a legit professor.

But the podcast I want to recommend is Terrible, Thanks for Asking. It's so great. It's about grief, and the host of the podcast is Nora McInerny, who lost her husband to brain cancer and miscarried their second child within weeks of each other. Her father passed away a few weeks after that. So she knows something of grief, and she's honest and real about all of it. She also brings a guest in for each episode, so the first one is specifically about young widowed mothers raising their toddler or preschool age sons, but later episodes cover other kinds of grief as well--professional failure, depression, traumatic brain injury, and, yes, stillbirth and infertility. It almost always makes me laugh and cry.


My book club selected A Man Called Ove for this month's discussion, and then (sadly) had to cancel our last meeting because of weather. The book is a real gem, though. It's a little bit formulaic in the beginning, but as things unfold the characters become less cartoon-like and more and more endearing. By the time I got to the end, I had cried actual real tears and I didn't want the book to end.

Our next selection is Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, which I just started this weekend and am already loving.

I've also been reading The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England. I listened to part of it in audio, but it's a nonfiction book that I'm preferring to read rather than listen to. Also, it speaks to my genuine nerdiness that I didn't realize that a book about the history of Elizabethan England written as though it's being offered as very (very!) thorough instructions for a potential time-traveler might not have universal appeal. Imagine my surprise when David didn't want to listen to the audio book on our Midwestern tour over Christmas! Anyway, perhaps it will only appeal to a very specific taste, but I think it's fascinating. Hashtag nerd alert.

As part of our We Stories curriculum, we're now focusing on books about America with the girls. It seems especially important right now that we spend time talking to our kids about America's diversity and our (complicated) history of immigration. We've read several good books, but my two favorites are Emma's Poem (about the poem who wrote the poem for the Statue of Liberty) and Of Thee I Sing (children's book that Barack Obama wrote for his daughters that nearly moves me to tears each time I read it).


David and I caught up on the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock series. They are so good my only complaint is that I have to be focused to watch them! Last night I tried to finish a photo book of our summer vacation while watching (yes! crossing off 2016's resolutions at long last!) and I need to re-watch the episode.

I've been having a hard time listening to NPR because the news feels bad to me. But I love Samantha Bee and I can't get enough of Full Frontal. As much as I like it, I'm also kind of glad it only comes on once a week, because I don't enough time to watch all the TV I want to watch, and that makes it easier.

Last night after I'd put Coco to bed and David was reading with Zuzu, I watched a funny new show called Teachers. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times, and David said he didn't want to watch it because he has a hard time with comedies that are mostly based on secondhand embarrassment (see: why we're not listening to NPR news so much these days) but he laughed out loud, too, when he came downstairs and it was still on. I think anyone who works in an elementary school would find it pretty funny.


  1. I saw a promo about Teachers, and it looks hilarious.

    Did you listen to the stillbirth episode on Terrible, Thanks for Asking? It was very difficult to listen to, but so many of the details reminded me of your story and of your friends' stories. Tough stuff. I'm not sure I can listen to the current one, so it's on hiatus.

    I love Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It's so soothing to me, and I enjoy the practice of diving into a text. It seems relevant, but also a departure from current events.

    I think everyone should listen to 1A's episode from this morning - particularly the second half on The Green Book.

    I'll be listening to Alvin Hall's Documentary later today (linked in that link above.)

    1. Yes--I listened to the stillbirth episode and I want everyone I know to listen to it. And yes, I felt like I could echo everything she was saying, which is one reason I think it's so important to tell these stories even though they are hard to listen to. The sense of isolation makes it so much worse.

      I also listened to the most recent one (on sexual assault). It's powerful and disturbing, but they give you a content warning so you can skip ahead if you need to. I'm glad I listened to it.

  2. You and I always seem to be watching and listening to the same things - I have been "enjoying" (not quite the right word but hooked) Terrible, Thanks for Asking. They had me at the title of the podcast!

  3. I loved Commonwealth. I'm finishing Ruth Bader Ginsburg's autobiography. The end has gotten heavy on the legalese, but the first half was inspiring. The justices have a lot of respect for each other and are friends despite political differences. It makes me feel like at least something is working well in our government.