after the slog of march, april felt like a whirlwind. and i am down to my final week at work!
kicked off the month with a 3.5 day weekend // got my second covid vaccine! // much-needed chats with ellie and alex // ruminating on some new projects and ideas // vaccinated getaway to arkansas
amateur: a reckoning with gender, identity, and masculinity by thomas page mcbee. we read this for the first anniversary of bank holiday book club, and it was so good. mcbee is a trans man, and he uses his time training for a charity boxing match to examine his evolving understanding of masculinity in today’s world. this is the first book i’ve read by a trans man, and it was interesting to read his perspective on how he approaches the world through that lens. i especially found it interesting to read his realization of how as a man he has had to catch himself speaking over women or crowding out their voices and the steps he takes to correct that behavior. i think this is my favorite bhbc read so far, and i really enjoyed our discussion of the book.
the sympathizer by viet thanh nguyen. maggie lent me her copy of nguyen’s pulitzer prize-winning novel in 2018 and has been waiting patiently for me to read it, and i’m so glad i finally picked it up. it’s a heavy book, recounting the end of the vietnam war and telling the story of a communist spy embedded within the south vietnamese police force [you learn this in the first chapter, so i’m not spoiling anything], but it is so worth reading. nguyen has an incredible way with words, and i found myself underlining entire paragraphs because of how moving they were. his follow up the committed arrived in my strand spring book hook up box, and i am excited to read it soon. maggie has already finished it and is brimming with excitement over our upcoming discussion.
disability visibility: first-person stories from the twenty-first century edited by alice wong. i can’t recall how or when i first heard about this collection of stories about and by people living with disabilities, but i am very grateful to whomever it was for getting this on my radar. split into sections on being, becoming, doing, and connecting, these stories are a great reminder of the …
people we meet on vacation by emily henry. here’s the thing. on its own, this book is fine. nothing super great and awesome, nothing dreary or disappointing. but i loved emily henry’s first two books so, so much, and this one doesn’t hold up against those two. it felt a little superficial and a lot predictable, but it’s a fine book if you need an escape from reality. but if you’ve not read her other two, i’d point you in that direction first.
directions: really good advice for getting from here to there by hallie bateman. this was a very sweet book of post-its bateman has written to herself and her friends and loved ones on topics ranging from love to self-care to work to family and everything in between. it’s a quick read that i zipped through in less than an hour, but i will definitely go back to some of the notes at various points in my life.
think again: the power of knowing what you don’t know by adam grant. at this point my love of adam grant is no secret. i devour all of his articles and podcast episodes, but think again was actually the first of his books that i’ve read and i absolutely loved it. the timing of reading it right as i am entering a phase of life transition was a total coincidence, and i’m so glad it worked out that way. from reflecting on differences of task conflict v relationship conflict to thinking about psychological safety in the workplace to rethinking how i connect with the people i am closest to, this book was chock full of great stories and advice and opportunities for reflection. this one is getting added to my “recommended to everyone” list.
deception by selena montgomery. this was our latest romance book club selection, and i liked that it was a romance and mystery intertwined. the writing was a little clunky in places, and having not read the first book in the trilogy i had to fill in some gaps, but it was quite enjoyable. it’s a quick and easy read, and i look forward to our discussion next week.
this time next year by sophie cousens. this was a book of the month selection from last fall that i really wanted more from. it’s a well-written book, but based on the cover and the synopsis i expected something a little…more. more romance, yes, but also more substance. the book takes place over the year 2020 with a few flashbacks, so it felt like it glossed over events in order to advance in time. the story of minnie and quinn had a lot of promise but ultimately not a lot of depth. i do think cousens is a talented writer, and as this was her debut novel i would be interested in reading more of her writing in the future.
currently reading: danielle evans’ the office of historical corrections and isabel wilkerson’s caste. i’m taking my time with the latter so i can really soak it in. both are good so far!
the best things i watched.
i finished season 2 of the crown on netflix and decided to take a break before continuing. i know the cast changes, and i wanted to sit for a little while with the characters from the first 2 seasons before watching seasons 3 and 4. i am about to have my first real week off since last august, so i’m sure i will make some headway this month.
season 1 + bonus episode of mythic quest: raven’s banquet on apple tv+. i honestly had no idea what this show was about but watched it because caitlin mcgee is in some of the episodes and i will watch anything she is in, and i can honestly say i loved it. i legit watched the entire first season in 2 days, and then i watched the bonus episode when it came out in the middle of the month. season 2 drops this week and i am pumped.
i have been watching the trailer for moxie [netflix] for weeks and i finally watched the whole movie. this coming-of-age story was a little predictable but also very uplifting and served as a great reminder of the good that can come when women support one another rather than tear each other down. it’s well worth your time if you’re looking for something to watch.
one day i decided to start rewatching new girl on netflix, and i made it through the first 3 seasons before giving myself a break. i’ve seen those first seasons enough times that i can have it on in the background while i’m cooking or folding laundry, so i get through them pretty quickly. and now i’m taking a break before going back to finish the series.
ed note: i took out the podcast section because i didn’t have the bandwidth for it this month. perhaps it will return in may’s recap and perhaps it won’t…only time will tell.
the best things i purchased.
napkins from safomasi. i have been wanting cloth napkins for a while to cut down on waste, and i have had my eye on safomasi’s designs for a while. i couldn’t commit to a set of four in the same design, so one day i messaged sarah on instagram to ask if i could mix-and-match a set so that i didn’t have to choose just one design, and i was thrilled when she responded back to say yes! i actually ordered 8 napkins, the equivalent of 2 sets, and i am so happy with them. they’re bright and colorful and so well made, and i cannot recommend them enough. ed note: i also have a cushion cover, a small rug, and a throw from safomasi and love all of their products. i treat myself to one item [or set, as the case may be] each year and it’s one of the best gifts i give myself // also they now sell the napkins in sets of 2
this fantastic dress from madewell. madewell dresses are going to be my downfall. this one has the trifecta: it’s soft and flowy, it’s a midi-length dress that doesn’t make me look like i’m drowning in fabric, and it has pockets. it’s incredibly comfortable and very flattering and i will likely be living in it for the next 7 months.
this print from oh happy dani. danielle coke has become one of my favorite instagram followers for her amazing artwork supporting social justice causes and for the work she does to uplift others. i have been wanting one of her prints for a while, and i finally purchased the “worthy” print last month. she recently began selling stickers, and i am waiting on a restock so i can order some [they sold out in 48 hours!]. all of her items are great, from the stickers to the prints to the apparel; check out her store for more items!
the best things i read on the internet.
the beauty of stanley tucci. new yorker via aminatou sow
very interesting article about how friendships have evolved during the pandemic and where we go from here. nytimes via cup of jo
brenna’s tips for building more reading time into your life are fantastic. this battered suitcase
this article about two babies switched at birth in a canadian hospital nearly 60 years ago is a long read but is so worth it. the atavist magazine via longreads
simple ways to generate less waste in your day-to-day life. bbc
this interactive feature is a great way to explain climate change to the kids in your life…and even some adults. nytimes
adam grant on languishing. so many truths in this article. nytimes via lauren
narendra modi’s lack of leadership during the pandemic. time
the enduring perfection that is brandi carlile. buzzfeed news via huffpost
jhumpa lahiri wrote her most recent book in italian and then translated it herself into english, and i am so excited to read it. nytimes via roxane gay
this fantastic future tense fiction piece from catherine lacey. slate via roxane gay
maggie shipstead’s journey to completing her latest novel. la times
happy may, my friends! i hope this month brings you lots of joy and wonderful new beginnings.
ed note: the book links are affiliate links on bookshop, meaning if you use them to make a purchase i earn a small commission at no extra cost to you and you support small and independent booksellers. thank you!