books and podcasts - january

gen's recommendations:

podcasts: 

"The Moth" — This is a mixed bag for me, mainly because of the format of the show. It's like an open mic night for people to share stories about their lives- think Humans of New York in podcast form. Sometimes the storytelling really resonate with me; sometimes I'm happy that the podcast app has a skip function. I'm recommending it anyway because I think it's typically useful and interesting to hear other people's perspectives.

"Faith and Good Counsel Show With Stacy Gulino"  Episode: Sarah Denny- Authentic Femininity 01/31/15 — I want to recommend this specific episode of this great podcast because my great friend Sarah Denny makes an appearance. I've known Sarah since high school. Her special area of interest is the the beauty and individual contribution of every woman. We've spent countless hours talking about this topic and everything else, but Sarah still managed to inspire me once again with her poise and wisdom in this episode. Go do yourself a favor and listen to her tell you how incredible you are. 

"Planet Money" — This is one that usually ranks in a top spot on the podcast app, but I avoided it for a while because the little green icon looked boring. I'm glad I stopped judging it by its icon, because it's really interesting.  Freakonomics Radio is similar, but I like my economics podcasts a little more bite-sized. A few of my favorite episodes: #697, #283, #714, #566, #730, #733, #672.

books: 

Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith — Recommended for anyone who loves A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This novel is shorter, but it contains the same bittersweet details of life which makes ATGIB so moving. It centers around a pair of newlyweds learning how to live together. Their marriage is not ideal, and parts of this book made me really sad and even uncomfortable in the way that good fiction sometimes does. Betty Smith wrote a couple of other novels, but this is the place to start if you're digging deeper into her work.

The Martian by Andy Weir — I didn't realize Kath was reading this too until I saw her post! It makes sense- we share a love of sci-fi that probably stems from our Power Ranger days. (Can we call Power Rangers sci-fi? I think we can.) Anyway, this is a fun book, read it. 

The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer Through Robert Frost Selected by Harold Bloom — Harold Bloom is my favorite modern literary critic, so I had to have this compilation. Lo, it has no footnotes, only commentary, so that's a bummer, but it's still a wonderful anthology. Patrick surprised me the other day by starting to "read" of his board books in a poetic, lilting tone after I read him "The Walrus and the Carpenter." That alone is worth the price of admission. 

kat's recommendations

Podcasts:

"Bachelor Party"— I’m part of a Bachelor Fantasy League, so I have to get as much info about Arie and his women as possible because I want to win.  And if you don’t like watching the Bachelor but are interested in participating in a league like this with your friends who do watch the Bachelor, this is a good way to get summaries of what happened without having to watch.  This podcast is short (compared to most other Bachelor podcasts), features guests, and does a good wrap up of each episode.  My only criticism of it is that the host’s voice can be a little shrill at times, and as of now she’s a fan of young Bekah, so I’m not crazy about that.  But it’s pretty interesting and fun to listen to for Bachelor fans.

"Stuff You Should Know" — this is a great one because there are just so many topics to choose from.  So if you’re interested in learning more about some random topic, it’s probably covered by this show.  It’s interesting for nerds like me who wish they were still in school and could learn stuff as a full time job.  My favorites so far have been the "How Feeding Babies Works" episodes, but I'm interested in listening to the "How Psychopaths Work," "How Champagne Works," and "The Deal With Doulas" ones too.

"Atlanta Monster" — this podcast is still being published every week, but in a very Serial (another great podcast I talked about here) style, it tells the story of the investigation of the kidnappings and murders of Atlanta’s youth around the year 1979.  So far, it is interesting enough for me to keep it playing while I run, and this is a difficult task since I need to be fully engaged in the podcast for it to be interesting enough for me (basically I don’t want to be thinking about the fact that I’m running).

Books:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott — This one is kind of cheating, because we’re supposed to be doing this for our Book Club in January.  But since I’m not really reading much right now, I thought I’d include it as one of my choices.  I’ve tried to read this book year after year and have never gotten very far (because it’s usually around Christmastime and I stop reading once the chapters about Christmas are over).  But I am making more headway now, and I absolutely love it.  Louisa May Alcott has a not-so-subtle way of pointing out the true, good, and beautiful, and I think that’s what makes this book so quotable and lovely.  I am really enjoying it.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien — This may also be cheating because technically I’m listening to it on audiobook.  I’ve already read this book, but it was a long time ago, so I’m loving going back into the fantastic world Tolkien created so masterfully.  Plus I want Miriam to have an appreciation for all things fantasy (especially Tolkien), and a good example has to start somewhere!

The Martian by Andy Weir — I am a huge Sci-Fi nerd, so I love reading anything about aliens or space travel.  Gen’s husband Dalton recommended this one to me, and after the first few pages I was hooked.  The main character is an engineer, so if your brain works like an engineer’s, even if you’re not really into science fiction, I think you’ll probably enjoy this book.