monthly recap | may 2021.

a lot happened in may! i got out of town twice, i left my job, and i eased my way back into the job search. below are all the things that caught my eye last month.

may highlights.

arkansas adventures with the carroll family // wrapped up my time at bridges // alex-veena-jesse reunion in chattanooga to celebrate alex’s 30th birthday // grizz made it back to the playoffs // downtown weekend with solomon

may books.

may was definitely the month of lighthearted books for me. i needed a brain break after some heavier books earlier in the year, and these provided that getaway for me.

the friend zone by abby jimenez. i saw this book recommended by one of my favorite instagram follows and immediately put it on hold at the library. i admittedly didn’t love it, but i think jimenez is a talented writer. i had some issues with the plot, and i didn’t like the twist at the end; i understand it was the setup for her second book [which i also read], but it felt unnecessary. and i very much disliked how she handled the main character’s illness; i know she addresses it in the author’s note, but it didn’t sit well with me. content warning: infertility; trauma; death

criticism is a good thing. it means you’ve fought for something. the only people free from censure are people who’ve never taken a stand.

american royals by katharine mcgee. mcgee imagines what america would be like if george washington had become king rather than president and looks at the love lives of his modern-day descendants. i didn’t realize until a good way into the book that there is a second book, so while i wish there was a better conclusion i did really like the book. there are a few plot overlaps with the british royal family [ex: aunt margaret was rebellious and fell in love with an airline pilot] that could have done with a little more ingenuity, but overall it was fast and breezy and fun to read. i have the second book, majesty, on hold and will hopefully be able to read it this month.

the happy ever after playlist by abby jimenez. i got jimenez’ second book from the library and like it so much better than her first one. the character development is better, the story development is better, and i actually liked both of the main characters this time around. in her author’s note jimenez writes that she actually wrote this book first and then wrote the friend zone at the request of her publisher; in my opinion this story stands on its own and you can skip the first book and only read this one. as always there are ups and downs, mostly due to a lack of communication, but i really liked sloan and jason’s story.

josh and hazel’s guide to not dating by christina lauren. i got a super cheap kindle version of this book two years ago and was surprised at how much i liked it. i flew through it in a matter of hours, and i reread it at some point last year and again this may. it’s a very sweet story, i love the two main characters, and it is a great reminder for me – the perpetually quirky friend – to be myself and to never water down my wild for others.

arthur told me that in order to change the minds of many, you have to first start with the minds of few.

the house in the cerulean sea by t.j. klune. laura recommended this to me a few months ago and it came up in my libby queue last month. this story of a caseworker sent to investigate an orphanage housing 6 magical youth has a number of lessons in it about prejudice, community, looking below the surface, and not judging others based solely on their appearance. it’s a quick read and a feel-good story and a great reminder to stand up for what is right, even when it’s hard. [editor’s note: i am leaving my initial review here, but after further research into klune’s inspiration for the book i have hesitations about recommending it until i learn more]

other people we married by emma straub. i had never previously read anything by emma straub and so decided to start with her collection of short stories and work my way through her novels. as with any story collection i liked some better than others, but overall i like straub’s writing style and her ability to write imperfect endings. i think i liked “a map of modern palm springs”, “fly-over state”, and “puttanesca” best.

the wedding date by jasmine guillory. last year maggie, molly, and i read guillory’s royal holiday without realizing it was part of a series, so since i enjoyed it i decided to go back to the beginning and read her previous books. the first in the series is the wedding date, the story of alexa and drew and a fateful meeting in an elevator. is it a little far-fetched? sure, all the good ones are. but is it also fun and entertaining and well-written? definitely yes. i loved alexa and how committed she is to her career. i didn’t love drew as much, but i did appreciate that when alexa mentioned an acquaintance of his was creepy and racist toward her he believed her straightaway. being that it was an interracial relationship i would have welcomed a few more conversations about that, but ultimately i enjoyed the book [i read it in a day] and will be reading the proposal soon.

currently reading: almost finished with kaitlyn greenidge’s libertie and katharine mcgee’s majesty; still making my way through isabel wilkerson’s caste; and so excited to dive into ashley c ford’s somebody’s daughter soon!

the best things i watched.

when i was in little rock we discovered that maggie and molly had never seen good will hunting, so we watched it on saturday evening. i hadn’t seen it in at least 15 years, and i was pleasantly surprised at how good it still is. available to rent on amazon

i have been watching home economics each week since it premiered this spring, and last month was its season finale. it’s a fun show featuring some great actors, and i love that it covers the dynamics of adult sibling relationships. i am already looking forward to season 2 this fall. it airs on abc, but i have been streaming it on hulu

mythic quest season 2 premiered and i waited each friday for new episodes to drop. it is such a smart, funny show, and each episode is a treat. streaming on apple tv+

i rewatched season 1 of ted lasso because it’s just that good. and yes, i will rewatch it in july before the second season drops. as alex says, it might be the most wholesome show that’s ever been made. streaming on apple tv+

shrill released its third and final season this spring, so i figured it was the perfect time to finally watch. i watched and loved the first season and look forward to finishing the series this month. aidy bryant is a delight in the lead role, and the entire show is so well done. streaming on hulu

i have been wanting to watch the mighty ducks: game changers series since it started, but i waited until there were episodes stockpiled so i could watch it straight through. i always knew i was going to love it, but i was still surprised by how much. it’s got great heart, just like the movie that came out nearly 30 years ago, and it’s well worth a watch. streaming on disney+

while in chattanooga alex, jesse, and i found ourselves talking about wework, so one night we watched the wework documentary. very interesting, very well done. streaming on hulu

master of none season 3 dropped on may 23, and i watched it last week. it’s only 5 episodes and focuses on denise [lena waithe] and her wife. it has a much more serious, somber feel than the first two seasons but is very, very good. streaming on netflix; also i rewatched the ‘thanksgiving’ episode from season 2 before watching the latest season

the best things i listened to.

yep, it’s back this month! i am very behind on episodes so i have a lot of catching up to do in june.

building an anti-racist workplace [work life with adam grant, april 20]. adam grant’s conversation with john amaechi about identity and stereotypes and how they play out in our workplaces was so interesting to listen to. i especially appreciated amaechi’s reminder to introduce nuance into our conversations, because i know that is something i often struggle to do.

partnerships [you and me both]. in this episode hillary clinton speaks to my favorites aminatou sow and ann friedman, hosts of call your girlfriend, as well as john and gisele fetterman, current lieutenant governor and second lady of pennsylvania and all-around awesome people. i loved listening to how aminatou / ann and john / gisele approach their partnerships and how they have found what works best for them.

paradigm shift [you and me both, april 27]. hillary’s conversations with isabel wilkerson, reshma saujani, and malcolm kenyatta about all the ways we are rethinking our lives were so engaging and insightful.

on the way to dinner [this is love, april 28]. this episode really got me. it’s the story of a man finding a baby in a subway station on the way to dinner with his then-boyfriend and how their lives changed from that moment forward. i definitely cried a few times while listening.

the test kitchen revisited [reply all, april 29]. i was so excited when reply all announced they were going to do a deep dive into how bon appetit self-destructed, until reply all self-destructed as a result. this episode provides an update on where reply all is with their own reckoning and how they will be restructuring moving forward.

christy turlington burns, founder of every mother counts [seneca’s 100 women to hear]. maternal mortality is an extremely important topic, and one that does not get enough attention. the united states in particular has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality among developed nations, and this conversation with christy turlington burns brings to the forefront many of the advocacy issues she and her team at every mother counts focus on to call more attention to the issue.

why herd immunity is slipping away [the daily, may 7]. herd immunity is a hot topic these days, especially here in the states where we have a lot of people not wanting to get the vaccine or not having access to the vaccine. the vaccine hesitancy is high here, and the longer it takes us to get people vaccinated, the longer it will be before we can move on from the last year.

the fake bride [hidden brain, may 10]. this episode is a roller coaster! the story of a young woman who’s friend duped his family and friends into thinking she was his wife, and the consequences that followed. it’s a wild ride.

why it pays to raise pay [work life with adam grant, may 10]. this episode was especially timely given all the current conversations in the states about unemployment rates and livable wages. as adam says at the beginning of the episode, “when employees are paid more, they give more”. it’s pretty simple.

when misogynoir is a preexisting condition [intersectionality matters!, may 14]. this is a great conversation about how inequitable our healthcare system is, especially for black women and girls, and our country’s history of exploiting black people for medical research. please, please listen to this episode.

how to bust bias at work [work life with adam grant, may 17]. a look at all the ways bias shows up in our work places and how we can actively work to overcome them.

they took the black out of bbq [hear to slay, may 18]. i only get to listen to snippets of episodes because i’m on the free list, but i loved that their guest on this episode is the son of a mother from chattanooga and a father from helena, arkansas. i couldn’t not recommend it.

love & vaccines [committed with jo piazza, may 19]. this episode, about couples with one person who doesn’t plan to get the covid-19 vaccine, admittedly gave me a lot of anxiety but was also good for me to listen to because i live in a bubble where everyone i know has gotten or plans to get the vaccine and it provides a great primer for navigating these conversations if the need arises. but also: please get vaccinated if you are able. please.

jimmy smits: how to hit new heights [why am i telling you this?]. i love jimmy smits, and getting to listen to him in conversation with president clinton was so fun to listen to.

healing ourselves with friends (and books) [call your girlfriend, may 21]. aminatou interviews ashley c ford about her new memoir [released on tuesday!], and their love and respect for one another shines so bright. i am so excited for my copy of ashley’s book to arrive; i have been waiting for it for months.

the best things i purchased.

my friends at jackalope brewing company celebrated their 10th birthday this spring so i purchased some swag from their website in solidarity. this time around i got this celebration shirt, this tank, and this fanny pack [only 2 left in stock as of this writing!] and am very happy with my choices.

the best things i read on the internet.

this excerpt from sarah sentilles’ book about her journey as a foster parent. as someone who would like to one day become a foster parent this was very interesting. cup of jo

the clinton school wrote a press release about my girl corrinne. and i’m quoted in it!

snl’s cold opener for their season finale was fantastic.

i loved this feature on alison bechdel. time

i will never not have a crush on tony hawk. the guardian

simone biles continues to prove she is the best of all time. nytimes

this review of ashley c ford’s upcoming book, which i am so excited to read. boston globe via roxane gay

a summer romance reading list, if that’s your thing. jezebel via roxane gay

how barry jenkins tackled directing his adaptation of the underground railroad to make sure the production didn’t re-traumatize those in the show. la times via roxane gay

the pandemic has rewritten the future of business. time

why miscarriages should be included in sex education curriculum. the guardian via ann friedman

what happened to nail salon workers when the pandemic hit. allure via ann friedman

alexander chee on his father, style, self-defense, and racism. gq via roxane gay

what six families around the country spent in a month. ny times via adventurous kate

amber share, the designer behind subpar parks, talks about her upcoming book. i have her mt rainier print and love it, have already pre-ordered the book, and have my eye on that postcard set once i have an income again. washington post

my friend sarah has just been named the first full-time director of project aquifer! daily memphian

happy june, my friends!


ed note: the book links are affiliate links to bookshop, meaning if you purchase using the above links i will earn a small commission as will independent bookstores, with no extra cost to you. thank you for your support!

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