monthly recap | october 2021.

i say it every year, but october is maybe my favorite month. sports are back in full swing, the weather finally cools off, and everyone seems to be in a good mood, myself included. this month’s recap is a long one, but it was a really good month.

october highlights.

20th [+1] high school reunion + a weekend in chattanooga // a reunion with claire after 15 years // broadway is back in memphis // wright family reunion // a week of dog sitting in nashville // volunteered at indie memphis film fest // first clinton school alumni advisory board meeting // found my cooking legs again

masked up for the new broadway season. memphis, tennessee. october 2021.

october books.

i’ll be honest, i started at least 4 books in october that i didn’t finish. a few didn’t capture my interest and so i set them aside, and a few others i wasn’t in the right head space to enjoy. also there were football games and baseball playoffs and puppies to distract me. whatever the reason, october was a big dnf month for me.

daisy jones and the six by taylor jenkins reid. sometime in september i asked instagram for audiobook recommendations, and this book was mentioned by no fewer than 3 people. the book has been highly reviewed and recommended since its release and was in my libby queue, but after the multiple mentions my interest in the audiobook was piqued. the book itself is written as an oral history of a fictional 1970s rock band, so for the audiobook a full cast reads for each of the different characters which makes it unique for many reasons. i listened to it during my road trip to baltimore and chattanooga, and i was riveted. by the end i had tears rolling down my cheeks in the middle of i-75 because i was so moved, almost as though i had been listening to an actual band tell their story. it was absolutely fantastic, and i am so grateful to the people who recommended it [and to pat turns for letting me use one of his audible credits to purchase it].

the unhoneymooners by christina lauren. this one was pretty standard christina lauren fare — two people who don’t get along wind up taking a trip together and falling for one another. it wasn’t as good as josh and hazel – but then again i don’t think anything ever will be – but it was fine. the conclusion was a bit of a letdown, but it’s an easy read.

isn’t it funny how the people who insist you’re a catch are never the ones who actually want to date you?

life’s too short by abby jimenez. the conclusion to this trilogy was fine but leaned hard on the two main characters not communicating properly and it got a little tired after a while. but i liked both characters and enjoyed their interactions and ultimately enjoyed the book. i would rank the trilogy in the following order: the happy-ever-after playlist, life’s too short, the friend zone.

everything we didn’t say by nicole baart. some mysteries / thrillers are great, and some miss the mark; this was the latter for me. the premise was interesting – unsolved murders in a small town, local girl returns after a long absence, family dynamics in need of repair – but i never really felt invested in the story. normally i like a good back-and-forth between present day and when the crime happened but this one felt poorly executed, especially with the switch from third-to-first-person and back again. if you want a good thriller, i recommend the chestnut man instead; the family upstairs also provides some good intrigue.

she’d reached a point in her life where you had to improve it or leave her alone.

sometimes i trip on how happy we could be by nichole perkins. i first learned of nichole perkins from her podcast thirst aid kit, so i was pumped when i saw she was releasing an essay collection. i love how open and honest she is in her writing – and honestly in all aspects of her life – and how she doesn’t shy away from any topic. i appreciate her frankness about the difficulty of dating in your late 30s and what it’s like coming to terms with your own body in a world constantly telling you to lose weight. i loved reading about her hbcu experiences, her list of wants for a future partner, and the role bones played in helping her as she was fighting a particularly difficult bout of depression. i loved learning about her relationships with her family and how those have shaped who she is today. highly recommend this one.

love scenes by bridget morrissey. the libby app recommended this one to me, so i downloaded it. it was a very quick and easy read after the slightly heavier essay collection, which i appreciated. i’ll be honest and say i didn’t super love the main character and this is not likely one i’ll remember for long, but it’s good if you need a distraction for a few days. from what i understand this was morrissey’s first novel for adults [she’s written a few ya mysteries], and i think she’ll get better.

dial a for aunties by jesse q sutanto. this one was wild and a little ridiculous – i lost track of the number of times i said “what is this book” while reading – but i appreciated it for the pride and shame asian aunties can make you feel in equal measure. apart from that, however, it was a little too outlandish for me, not to mention the main character was honestly a little boring and so was her main love interest. again, a quick read, but not one that will stick with me.

the girls in the garden by lisa jewell. this was an interesting story, but instead of the regular back-and-forth i liked in her other books this one was split into before and after sections so it took me a while to get into it. the first half dragged a little, but then i sped through the second half. i still say the family upstairs is jewell’s best book.

the road trip by beth o’leary. o’leary manages to blend serious topics like sexual assault, alcohol and drug abuse, stalking, and so much more and yet still make her books kind of delightful to read. i don’t understand how she does it, but i thoroughly enjoy her books. this one could have been 30-50 pages shorter and would have been great, but i still enjoyed it nonetheless.

currently reading: if you can believe it, nothing! i finished the road trip on the 31st and have been distracted by the world series, so i am still figuring out what i feel like reading next.

the best things i watched.

season 2 of ted lasso wrapped up. some things happened that i expected, others that i didn’t, but regardless i laughed and cried in equal measure and am planning a rewatch of both seasons soon. streaming on apple tv+

come from away was the first show of the orpheum’s broadway season, and it was fantastic. it tells the story of a small town in canada where a number of planes were diverted on 9/11 after the u.s. airspace was closed. it’s done in such a human way and captures the range of emotions that day wrought, and i thought the show was beautiful. i highly recommend seeing it live if it comes to a city near you, but also there’s a filmed performance available to stream on apple tv+ if that’s your preference.

maggie worked at the hot springs documentary film festival and recommended i watch black ice about a group of black climbers from memphis who travel to montana on an ice climbing trip. it was great to see a memphis story portrayed in this way, and i thought they did a really good job of integrating their trip with history about racial inequities in memphis and within the climbing community. it looks like it’s currently making the festival rounds, so keep an eye out in case it shows up wherever you are.

i’ve been seeing a lot of previews for the new season of love life, so i decided to watch the first season last week. season 1 centers around darby – played by anna kendrick – and the significant relationships in her life. most of them are her romantic relationships, but it also delves into her connections to her mother and her best friend and how those have shaped her. it’s made me think a lot about who would be centered in my own episodes and which relationships – both good and bad – have left the greatest impact on me. anyway, i enjoyed season 1 and will soon be watching season 2 – starring william jackson harper – which just premiered last week. my understanding is that they are stand-alone seasons but have a little overlap. streaming on hbomax

the best things i listened to.

why the passport needs an upgrade . passports have had minimal changes [mine now looks almost identical to mine from childhood] over the years, and this talk delves into how a digital upgrade could improve them. especially in 2021, when government offices are backed up with requests, anything that reduces the required paperwork and makes passports more accessible to people is a welcome change in my book.

‘they don’t understand we’re real people’ [the daily, october 1]. this episode visits an abortion clinic in oklahoma, one of the closest abortion providers for women in texas, and explores how they have had to adapt following the more recent bill passed by the texas legislature.

uncle nearest premium whiskey: fawn weaver [how i built this, october 3]. i loved listening to this story of how fawn weaver discovered the story of nearest green and how she turned that into a best-selling whiskey.

want to truly succeed? lift others up while you climb . some great reminders in this about ways to help others succeed, especially those who are often left behind.

the case for a 4-day workweek [life kit, october 4]. i have been saying for years that a 5-day, 40-hour workweek is dumb. this episode lays out how switching to a 4-day workweek will make workers happier and more productive and actually lead to greater economic gains.

how to change: science-backed tips for becoming your best self [the next big idea, october 7]. i have been excited to read katy milkman’s book on how we can create lasting change in our lives, and this episode only furthered that excitement. hoping to read it this month.

three wheelin’ [the dirtbag diaries, october 8]. every july there’s a bicycle race across the state of iowa. this episode is all about one guy’s experience with the race, except on inline skates. it’s fantastic.

‘lularich’ reveals how mlms mirror the american economy [it’s been a minute with sam sanders, october 8]. the lularoe story is both fascinating and a little creepy, and sam sanders covers how the company grew so fast and how that is also kind of the story of america.

5 tips for dealing with meeting overload . i have not had a full-time job since may and somehow still feel like i have too many meetings. this episode has some great tips on how to better balance your calendar and how to set boundaries if you feel like you are becoming overscheduled.

5 tips for getting started with strength training [life kit, october 11]. the title says it all. now to put some of these into action.

skeletons in the closet . about the fight over some native american remains that were found in a dc suburb. currently they "belong" to the smithsonian, but a florida tribe is trying to take them home to bury them. i had not heard about this story until i listened to this episode, and it is fascinating.

what you discover when you listen closely [song exploder / ted talks daily, october 13]. hrishi hirway's ted talk about how making song exploder has made him a better listener and how it has changed how he connects with people. i love him and every podcast he makes and have already listened to this talk 3 times.

how many friends do i need? [am i normal? with mona chalabi, october 17]. mona chalabi is one of my favorite instagram followers, so i am pumped about her new podcast. this episode explores how relationships and friendships have changed not just over the last year but over the past centuries. well worth a listen.

leaders to learn from [women at work, october 18]. women are often better at responding to crises than men, and we have seen that evidenced even more over the last 20 months. this episode explores how women leaders have continued to adapt in ongoing uncertain circumstances.

allyson felix on defeating disappointment [taken for granted, october 19]. allyson felix is one of my favorite olympians of all time, but more than that she is an inspiration to women on how to demand what they deserve and how to find that ever-elusive balance. her conversation with adam grant is funny and heartfelt and poignant and just a great listen.

3 tips for leaders to get the future of work right . you'll notice there are a lot of episodes on this list about returning to work and balancing and the like. that's because i have had a lot of time to think about these things over the last few months and have gravitated toward these conversations, and at the same time they are taking place across the country as people are returning to offices and figuring out how that works in this new world in which we find ourselves.

budgeting basics ft the budgetnista [money please, october 25]. i love berna anat and was so excited when i found out she was doing a new financial podcast with betches, and her first episode featuring tiffany aliche was fantastic. great points in here about finding the budgeting lifestyle that works for you and how to approach money conversations with others in your life.

indra nooyi wants us to reimagine the return to work [taken for granted, october 26]. indra nooyi discusses her incredible career with adam grant, from her childhood in chennai to her tenure as ceo of pepso co. she shares some great insights about what it was like to lead a fortune 100 company as a woman, what she has learned over the course of her career, and how she would like to see work change in the coming years. she was also on guy raz's wisdom from the top, but i enjoyed this conversation more.

you and i are in a parasocial relationship [the cut, october 26]. i have been thinking a lot recently about how i engage with people online v in real life, so this episode was particularly timely for me. it's so interesting to me the expectations people have for those who opt to share their lives online and how thoroughly social media has warped our senses of reality.

the dance of the dead [throughline, october 27]. have you ever wondered about the origins and history of halloween and how it has become what we know it as today? if so, this is the episode for you.

the overwhelming, invisible work of elder care [vox conversations, october 28]. this is another topic that has been on my mind lately, so it was another very timely listen. it has some great information about how our country approaches elder care and also what you should know before you take on a caregiving role.

sweet little biscuit girl. nashville, tennessee. october 2021.

the best things i purchased.

i was cleared to start running again in early september, so once my new insoles arrived i went to fleet feet to get some new running shoes. they fitted me with the brooks ghost 14, and so far they are holding up well. i've only gone for a few short interval runs in them, but i've also worn them for some longer walks and even a hike in baltimore. they're sleek and comfortable and i am very happy with them. [technically i bought these in september but i forgot to include them in that roundup so here we are]

i don't use a lot of skincare products, but one thing i have been enjoying recently is this turmeric exfoliating mask from aavrani. i use it about once a week or so, and i do think it's making my skin softer and helping with some acne scars on my chin.

chef evelyn demonstrating her grilled cheese talents. nashville, tennessee. october 2021.

the best things i made.

[ed note: i fell out of the habit of cooking while i was all over the place with dog sitting, but as the weather has cooled off i have rediscovered how much i enjoy it. as it makes sense i'll share my favorite recipes from the month]

this simple tomato soup recipe from nyt cooking is so easy and so delicious and goes great with a grilled cheese sandwich. i skipped the honey because it felt a little extra, and i of course added my spice quartet of turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder. the recipe is very easy to follow and yields significantly more than it says it does -- i had 1 container for the rest of the week, put 2 in my freezer, gave 2 to my parents, and even took 1 to a friend.

this miso-butter pasta with butternut squash, also from nyt cooking, was another relatively easy recipe. i added lots of spices because the recipe itself is quite bland, and in the future i think i'll make it with sweet potatoes instead of the butternut squash; i like the taste of sweet potatoes better, plus they're a lot less time-intensive to handle. also i threw some green chilies in the pan with the squash and garlic to add some flavor there as well.

i've been in a big-time soup mood, and this potato-cheddar soup with quick-pickled jalapeños hit the spot. the recipe is easy to follow, and the only modifications i made were to add serrano peppers and grated ginger along with the onions and my spice quartet. this one yields less than the tomato soup recipe from above, but it still gets you 6-8 servings. also it paired beautifully with the sourdough bread my friend caitlin dropped off at my house.

spent a lot of time sat out here. chattanooga, tennessee. october 2021.

the best things i read on the internet.

i have a huge backlog of newsletters clogging my inbox, so expect this section to be longer next month as i begin clearing those out.

why parallel play is important for adult relationships. nytimes

9 essential workers share their stories. cup of jo

have you heard about the hot singles newsletter? nytimes

happy november!


ed note: as always the book links are bookshop affiliate links, meaning if you use them to make a purchase i earn a small commission and so do independent bookshops at no extra cost to you. thank you!

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