best friend trip planning // hung out with some new pet friends for a few days // did some freelance facilitation // had some very good informational interviews and made new connections // started a very cool coursera course // the return of trolley night // the launch of a new project
yes, i did a lot of reading in june, but i do also want to acknowledge that two of the books i finished [caste and libertie] i had already started and finished quite early in the month. but also june was my month for fast reads, and i took full advantage.
majesty by katharine mcgee. i flew through the first book in the series in may and was so excited to read the second one to see how everything wrapped up, and i was incredibly disappointed. it felt like the story lines from the first book disappeared, every time there seemed to be comeuppance for one of the characters it never happened, and aside from samantha it really didn’t feel like anyone evolved. i also had a tough time getting past the characters being in their late teens and early twenties; it was difficult for me to take them seriously. it’s not often i encourage people to completely skip a book, but this one is on that list.
big lies in a small town by diane chamberlain. at some point last year i stuck this on my amazon wish list, and when i was in the mood for a mystery last month i was excited to see it was available on libby. it’s a slow burn, revealing itself through narrators from opposite ends of the mystery, and while it’s a little predictable it’s also a very well-written book. i had never read anything by chamberlain before but will be looking into other books of hers in the future.
the family upstairs by lisa jewell. i found this on my shelf and picked it up and wow was i blown away. the shifting perspectives and non-linear timeline kept me reading, muttering “one more chapter one more chapter” under my breath until it was 1am and i needed to sleep with my light on because i was convinced someone was living in my attic. but real talk? this is a really good book, and a great escape if you need a break from the heavy reads. i have already scoured libby for additional lisa jewell titles and will be reading more in the future.
caste: the origins of our discontents by isabel wilkerson. wow. it took me over 2 months to read this because i had to continuously give myself breaks to process the information and also work through the anger and frustration it evoked, but it is also one of the best books i have ever read. wilkerson winds threads throughout so many different events throughout history, and she breaks down the idea of caste into language that is more accessible. caste is not an easy book to read, but it is an important one.
the proposal by jasmine guillory. the second book in her wedding date series, the proposal centers on carlos and nik. i liked their story, but while i liked carlos better than drew [from the first book and carlos’ best friend], i didn’t connect with nik the same way i did with alexa. but jasmine guillory is a great crafter of stories, and this one kept my attention to the end, just as the first one did, and i am excited to read the wedding party soon.
libertie by kaitlyn greenidge. have you ever been in the middle of reading a book and you know that what you are reading is well written but simply isn’t the story for you? that’s how i felt with libertie. kaitlyn greenidge is definitely a talented writer, but parts of the story felt disjointed and i also realized i much prefer contemporary fiction to historical. in the family upstairs one of the characters notes that all books are good to someone, and i really feel like that’s true for libertie; it wasn’t my book, but it’s definitely someone else’s.
take a hint, dani brown by talia hibbert. along with sara desai and jasmine guillory, talia hibbert has quickly become one of my favorite romance writers. the second book in her series about the brown sisters focuses on dani and zafir, and it was very good. i love that hibbert brings unseen issues into her stories, first with chronic pain in the first book and now with anxiety and mental health in this one. plus she has a knack for writing male characters who i’m pretty sure don’t exist in real life but who are absolute delights to read on the page, men who talk about their feelings and are good communicators and who are generally good humans.
act your age, eve brown by talia hibbert. i normally don’t read books in a series back-to-back but i was house-sitting when i finished dani brown and they had the final book at the house so i read it while i was there. this one centers around eve, the third sister, and jacob and includes neuro-divergent characters and conversations about ableism. once again i appreciate how hibbert approaches these conversations and that she centers characters with different abilities in her stories. i still think the first book in the series is my favorite because i will forever be in love with redford, but this one was fun to read and i enjoyed learning more about eve after the brief glances i had from the first two books.
currently reading: working my way through ashley c ford’s somebody’s daughter; rob sheffield’s talking to girls about duran duran; peter nichols’ the rocks; helen hoang’s the kiss quotient; and jasmine guillory’s the wedding party. i don’t normally read this many simultaneously and definitely bit off more than i can chew; this is what happens when i get excited about too many books all at once.
the best things i watched.
jen and i saw in the heights at the cinema, and it was magical. it was my first movie in a theater since january 2020, and i loved every second of it. great movie, lots of fabulous singing and dancing, the guy who plays benny is very attractive. in theaters and available to stream on hbo max
i finished seasons 2 and 3 of shrill. it’s a very well made show, and while many of annie’s actions made me cringe, i appreciate that they kept it very raw and honest. available to stream on hulu
i got back into letterkenny last month and watched season 3. what a weird and wonderful show. available to stream on hulu
i watched mare of easttown, and it is fantastic. it’s a great story, the acting is superb, and i love how the layers of the mystery are unfolded. great, great show. available to stream on hbo max
it felt like the right time to start rewatching psych, so i made quick work of the first two seasons. i will never tire of shawn and gus and all of their wild antics. never. available to stream on prime video
the best things i listened to.
being the first of many with errin haines [sunstorm with alicia garza & ai-jen poo, may 25]. alicia and ai-jen talk to errin haines about her journalism career and how the 19th* is changing how women are depicted in media. errin shares lots of great insights in this conversation, and i loved listening to these three powerhouse women.
gathering: mastering the art of hanging out [the next big idea, may 27]. priya parker’s the art of gathering was one of my favorite books last year, and i will listen to any interview, speech, or program that includes her until the end of time.
the rigged test of leadership | sophie williams . sophie williams talks about the double-edged sword of being a leader at work when you are a member of a marginalized community.
young changemakers [the daily show with trevor noah, june 1]. a compilation of conversations between trevor noah and youth activists about what drives them and the change they hope to make. listen to youth, because they are changing our world already.
your insecurities aren’t what you think they are [worklife with adam grant, june 1]. steps to take to overcome imposter syndrome and how to embrace your insecurities.
in people we trust (with aisha nyandoro) [how to citizen with baratunde, june 3]. baratunde and aisha talk about guaranteed basic income and how an experiment in jackson, mississippi, is getting money into the hands of people who need it.
hillary clinton changes on her own terms [a slight change of plans, june 3]. maya shankar talks to hillary clinton about her life and career.
home for me is really a memory [ear hustle, june 9]. an interview with leslie, who was convicted as part of the manson murders when she was 19 and who has been imprisoned for over 50 years. this is a fantastic listen.
lighting up the world [committed, june 9]. i loved this episode. laura is an ob-gyn who has volunteered for much of her career in clinics in rural africa. when she mentioned the issue of power cuts to her husband, he designed a solar energy solution that has helped cut down on infant and maternal mortality. i loved listening to them talk about their partnership and how they are using their gifts to make a difference.
mellody hobson on taking tough feedback [taken for granted, june 14]. great conversation about how to give and receive feedback an how to be honest without being mean. highly recommend.
comedians who read the newspaper (with Hari Kondabolu) [how to citizen with baratunde, june 17]. listening to these two friends and two of my favorites discuss the place comedy has in today’s world was a delight.
‘where we come from’: priya and ritu krishna [it’s been a minute, june 22]. this special episode featuring ny times food writer priya krishna and her mother ritu reminded me so much of my own mother and myself. i loved listening to ritu talk about how she adapted indian food for her “american” daughters, and i empathized so much with priya when she lamented how difficult it is to share her mother’s recipes because of the lack of measurements. one of my favorites from the month, and yes i have also watched the video because it is fantastic.
the vanishing of harry pace [radiolab]. this multi-episode series has been such an interesting listen. i vaguely knew who harry pace was because of his ties to memphis and his partnership with w.c. handy, but i definitely didn’t know as much as i should have. i am very grateful to radiolab for sharing his story.
the best things i purchased.
i mentioned a few weeks ago that i am on a no running or hiking order, so i bit the bullet and paid for a monthly peloton subscription. the number of workouts they have available is staggering, and i have been enjoying perusing all of the options. i appreciate being able to filter classes by length or difficulty, and it has been fun figuring out which instructors i like best. it’s cheaper than the gym, and with the apple tv app i can follow along from the tv which is so convenient. shoutout to maggie for convincing me it would be worth it.
my beloved cotopaxi did a collaboration with teva, and it took me all of 2 hours to give in to temptation and order myself a pair. they are insanely comfortable, and i love the colors. you’ll catch me living in these the rest of the summer.
as an endlessly curious person, i love coursera courses because there is something for everyone. i signed up last month for a leading diverse teams and organizations course and took the extra step of paying for the certificate; not only will it keep me motivated to finish, but it will be a good asset on my resume. i am nearly halfway through the course and think it is really well done, in case you are interested. [ed note: you can do the course for free if you’d like; if you want to get a certificate upon completion it’s a $49 fee]
the best things i read on the internet.
where do candles go when they burn? nytimes via jodi ettenberg
what ‘returning to normal’ looks like for those who are chronically ill. the atlantic via jodi ettenberg
paxton smith, a valedictorian at a texas high school, used her platform to speak out against texas’ recent ‘heartbeat bill’. nytimes
i really liked this modern love essay. nytimes
a new report shows how much the income gap for black women has impacted the overall united states economy. the 19th*
this profile of yashar ali is a wild ride. la mag
this guy lost his fantasy football league and had to spend 24 hours in a waffle house, so he live-tweeted the whole thing. twitter via adventurous kate
this cartoon depicting what it’s like to live in a legislated body. aubrey hirsch via roxane gay
what unexpected relationships have you formed during the pandemic? abigail rasminsky via cup of jo
black people are more likely to be killed in traffic accidents, and covid only made that worse. nbc news
i wasn’t expecting this story of a hassidic woman with 10 children who just graduated from medical school to make me cry, but here we are. nytimes via adventurous kate
chris jones is running for governor in arkansas and his first ad is fantastic. youtube
how stories begin in various languages around the world. twitter via design mom
notes from a teacher on where virtual school fell short this past year. nytimes via abby rasminsky
levar burton. that’s it. that’s the tweet. nytimes via baratunde thurston
how the mismanagement of nikole hannah-jones’ tenure application at unc can impact future recruitment and attrition. the 19th*
the u.s. will start allowing a third ‘x’ gender option on passports by the end of this year. the 19th*
the whole ‘where we come from’ page is awesome. npr
happy second half of 2021!
editor’s note: the book links are affiliate links, so if you use them to make a purchase a small commission will go to me and to independent bookstores at no extra cost to you. thank you!