Thursday, January 18, 2018

Reading | Watching | Listening | Eating

I've read two excellent books in recent weeks (and that's not counting Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which isn't my favorite book to read but is one of my favorite books to teach).

The first is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I had this on my Amazon wishlist and got it for Christmas from my brother and his wife. It is SO good. It is crafted unlike anything I can remember reading before. It's almost a series of short stories, interrelated by generations of the same family, who trace their roots back to two sisters who are separated from one another in Africa just before the slave trade. One branch of the family remains in Africa; one branch of the family is enslaved in the United States. It carries up through the present day. Some sections were difficult to read, but all were beautifully written. You get all the information you need to get a complete sense of each character, and to feel fully invested in what happens to them, but I was always left wanting to read and know even more... until I'd get swept up in the next story. It was really so beautifully done. I highly recommend.

Another one I loved is Kelly Corrigan's Tell Me More. It's a series of essays about things she's practicing saying, and it's about family and friendship and grief and love and parenting and aging and it made me laugh and it made me want to underline. (I didn't underline, because I was borrowing my friend Michelle's book, but I did write down this quote: "But the truth is that I'm always teetering between a mature acceptance of life's immutables and a childish railing against the very same. In the time it takes to get the mail, I can slide from sanguine and full of purpose to pissed off and fuming.") She's raising two teenage daughters who are two years apart, so I liked to imagine it was a (sometimes scary!) glimpse into my future, but she also doesn't have the size/shape of family she'd hoped/planned for, partly resulting from her experience with cancer in her thirties. So I related to that, too. I really enjoyed it and it was a quick read for me. I get to go see her Monday at the library in St. Louis and I can't wait!

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I watched two films over the weekend: Get Out and Whose Streets? They are totally different, but linked by common themes of racial injustice. Get Out is both funny and scary. It's fascinating and unflinching, even though it made me flinch a lot. I don't want to say too much about it other than it's about a black man going to meet his white girlfriend's parents and there are parts that get pretty violent.

Whose Streets is a documentary about the protests in Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot by a (white) police officer. The protests made national news, so I was aware of them as they were happening, but Michael Brown was killed the day I got home from the hospital with newborn Coco, so I wasn't really tuning in to local news. It was also the day I found out one of my best friends had breast cancer, so I was more inwardly focused than outwardly focused. Anyway, the film is really powerful. It helped me see why protesters continue to protest when many people (especially many white people) feel that it is futile or even counterproductive. It also made me think a lot about how violence is portrayed in the media. A man was killed and his body left lying in the street for hours. But it was the looting and burning of a gas station that was presented as the actions that we (white people) should be scared of. There was a particularly poignant moment when people behind fences in their own yards were being tear gassed and they are filming it with their own camera. You can hear a woman yell, "Where are you now, KSDK? MSNBC?" because the media coverage was certainly only covering part of what happened. And it was shocking to see the military response to a gathering that truly began as a peaceful candlelight vigil but then escalated into something else. Anyway, it made me hope that we can do better, and it made me think a lot about the role of police and what it means to protect and serve communities.

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I've been listening to podcasts and audiobooks because of course I have. A podcast I'm enjoying is The Smartest Person in the Room. I'm only a couple of episodes in, but the host interviews people with interesting jobs--particularly in Hollywood and the film industry--and it has some fascinating behind-the-scenes info. For example, I didn't know what a Production Designer was. Now I kind of want to be one. I also had no idea how long it took to produce an animated film. Holy moly! Worth a listen.

Another app I use a lot is LibriVox. It's an audiobook app of books that are in the public domain (so lots of ninteenth century novels!). It's hugely helpful for me to listen to Frankenstein on my commute, and then I can skim as I reread before class. So if you've been wanting to tackle The Moonstone or Jane Eyre, you can totally do it with a free audio book through LibriVox. Fair warning: some readers are better than others, and some books are read by one reader while others have multiple readers, but for the most part I've found them easy to listen to and they make my commute time productive.

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Maybe my favorite sweet treat is chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzel bites. You can get these at Trader Joe's and I just discovered them at Whole Foods. I keep forgetting they are in my pantry, though, so I hope David hasn't eaten them all. So good.

Non-sweet favorite craving of late is roasted cauliflower and roasted chick peas with mustard. My mouth waters just typing that. I looooove Dijon mustard and I love everything about this recipe. There are lots of different versions, but I use this one.

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Any recommendations for me? I'll read anything, watch anything not too scary or gross, listen to anything not boring, and eat anything vegetarian except mushrooms and olives. xo

4 comments:

  1. Currently reading "Evicted" by Matthew Desmond. It's depressing, as you can imagine, but I've also learned a lot about poverty. For example, rent costs in poor areas of town often aren't significantly less than those in better parts of town. Poor people live there because they can't pass background and credit checks that they would need in nicer areas.

    To offset that, I'm watching "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" on Amazon. It is funny and feminist, and the clothes are fabulous. I highly recommend it.

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  2. I've recently been watching 'The Fall' on (Canadian) Netflix. It stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, and is a BBC series that follows a series of murders in Belfast. Anderson (as the head cop on the case) is fantastic, and the show is wonderfully feminist (Anderson even quotes Margaret Atwood toward the end of the second season!). Plus, as it's a British series, each season is only 5-6 episodes.

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    1. This sounds like my dream show! Thanks.

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  3. Funny, I was going to recommend the latest Kelly Corrigan book to you. I LOVE her, and I also noted the same line although didn't underline my copy because it belongs to the library. Jealous you get to meet her!

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