What I’m Into, November Edition

Reading:

I read five books this month. Most memorable are:

–Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld.

A couple Sundays ago, I got to church bleary-eyed, and the glass of wine I had with friends at lunch nearly put me to sleep. I was tired, so tired. Why? Not because baby was up a bunch that night, but because I stayed up late to finish this book. Or at least, tried to finish it. I finally had to admit defeat right before midnight and finish it in the morning.

Eligible is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, part of this series of Austen retellings. The Bennets–all but Lizzy and Jane–live in Cinncinati, Ohio: Kitty and Lydia are Crossfit enthusiasts this time around, Mary is a perpetual student, working on her third master’s degree, and Mrs. Bennet is obsessed with online shopping and marrying off her daughters. When Mr. Bennett has a heart attack, Lizzy (a magazine writer) and Jane (a yoga instructor) come home for the summer. There, Chip Bingley and his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy enter the story…and the rest is (retold) history.

Sittenfield incorporates many of the details I loved so much in the original, but adds some additional twists. One thing I liked is that Sittenfeld took the meanness out of some of the characters, adding some redemption to Kitty and Lydia, who are both shallow, vain, and frankly unlikeable and unredeemable in the original. (Luckily she leaves Caroline Bingley alone–who doesn’t want to see that bitch taken down?) Highly recommend this book if you’re a P&P fan.

–Artemis by Andy Weir.

I loved Weir’s first book, The Martian, with a fiery passion. It’s nerdy and geeky and about growing potatoes on Mars, for crying out loud. So I was very excited about this book, especially since I love heist stories, and this is one. It doesn’t disappoint. Weir is known for his incredibly detailed world building and exhaustive research, and it shows. Artemis is set on the moon and in a tourist economy, welding plays a huge part, and the protagonist is a female Saudi-turned-moon-resident. Go read it if you like space fiction, or science fiction (with the emphasis on science).

–The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

I read this one mainly because it kept popping up on my Goodreads and Amazon profiles. Sara is a Swedish recluse of sorts, who goes to a tiny town in Iowa called Broken Wheel to visit an internet friend/pen pal of sorts. But when she gets there, her friend has died. She stays on, opens a bookstore, and sets about accidentally revitalizing the town. It’s kind of a bookish chicklit, and I liked it mainly for the way it unabashedly celebrates readers and reading.

–Short form:

A Feminist Advent (Or: That’s What Advent Always Is) by Laura Jean. Advent starts on Sunday, and I have conflicted feelings about it. Advent is both my favorite season in the church year and one that reminds me how male-centric the church still is. I actually have a post planned about Mary and Advent and the way we tell her story: it probably isn’t a surprise to you that I think we sell her short in so many ways.

Several highlights from the linked post:

“It is a woman who proclaims the first Christmas message. It is a woman who cries out that God has not forgotten the poor and the hungry, that God has not ignored the violence of the wealthy and the powerful, that the Kingdom of God is on its way and it is literally growing inside her.

One of the most radical things about the Magnificat is that a woman sings a universal song. … Mary’s song is a fierce, unapologetic, and hopeful battle cry to the coming of the Kingdom of God for all people.” Amen to that.

Listening To:

–The Daily on Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts

I was intrigued by this because I would have totally chosen the Boy Scouts over the Girl Scouts when I was growing up. Much in the same way that I ended up quitting baseball once girls had to move to softball–looking back, I think I would have enjoyed softball, but the mandate that girls had to move to their own league as teenagers frustrated me enough to quit. Well, that and the tendon I tore which led to multiple surgeries and all that. But mostly the other thing.

Anyway, the episode interviews two sisters, one who joined the Boy Scouts, one who stayed with the Girl Scouts, and why they chose what they did. It’s a very kid-focused interview and it’s great.

–Fresh Air did an interview with Patton Oswalt, talking about his career, the loss of his wife, and comedy in general, and also talked to Father Greg Boyle, who works with gang members and ex-convicts in LA (to great success, I might add).

–Pop Culture Happy Hour did an episode on Murder on the Orient Express and cozy mysteries–my love for cozy mysteries knows no bounds so I was all over that.

Watching

Black-ish. There was a Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast about it, and I was intrigued enough to finally watch an episode. (Yes, I know I’m several seasons late to the party.) I’m now in season two and loving the Johnson family.

Thor: Ragnarok. My sister babysat while L. and I went out to dinner and then to the movies, and I loved every minute of it. (Well, except the sexualization of the Hella character. Seriously, can we stop doing this thing where women can only draw power from their sexuality?) But the fight scenes were epic and frankly, that’s mostly what I’m looking for in Marvel/superhero movies.

Doing

Dissertation writing (almost done!) and playing with this little girl, who is the light of my life at almost four months old. She’s learning new things every day and it fills me with delight to see her grow. Balancing taking care of her and writing my diss is a little hard at times, but I feel so lucky I get to be with her all day, every day.

Getting outside more. I’m still not fully healed from the fourth-degree tear, but I’m slowly getting back to exercising. We went on a hike with friends on Black Friday (#optoutside, thank you REI), and although I was in significant pain that weekend, it felt totally worth it. Mostly because we saw a banana slug eating a banana (so meta!) although the views at the top were great too.

Linking up with With I’m Into at Leigh Kramer!

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What I’m Into, July Edition

Reading

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Apparently this month was a nice split between more serious books and cozy mysteries. You all have seen me mention Donna Andrews before–she is one of my favorite cozy mystery writers and her books are always a treat to re-read. Otherwise this month I read:

Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most by Marcus Borg. It’s part spiritual memoir, part easily accessible primer of sorts on progressive Christian theology, and an engaging read.

City of God: Faith in the Streets by Sara Miles. Sara Miles isn’t your average Episcopalian (or maybe she is, is there such a thing as an average Episcopalian, especially in San Francisco?) and in this book, she reflects on her experiences taking the Ash Wednesday services to the streets and giving ashes to anyone who wanted them. The book is a meditation on the limits of church buildings, the power of liturgy, and what happens when you broaden the confines of your community.

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett. I read Micha’s blog for years but put off reading the book because as a single grad student/non-mom of small kids, I didn’t think it would resonate. Well, now that I’m about to enter the cult of motherhood and am even debating staying home with the baby for a while (gasp), the themes resonate a lot more. Micha writes candidly about her struggle to feel like her life is “enough,” that she is enough, that God loves her whether she’s a missionary in Africa or a stay-at-home-mom in San Francisco. As someone who is always afraid she’s squandering her potential, I found myself nodding at a lot of what she wrote.

Watching

What do you do when you are too pregnant to exercise properly (the most I can manage are short walks, or on a really good day, a 20 minute swim) but miss it anyway? You watch sports documentaries on Netflix.

I have a weird fascination with Crossfit. Every once in a while I google boxes near me and debate whether I’d like it or not and should try out a class. And then I settle for reading about it and watching documentaries, like this one, Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness, that follows a series of athletes as they compete in the 2016 Reebok Games, but also offers a retrospective of sorts about the explosive growth of the sport in the last ten years. (If you liked this, there’s also an earlier one that documents the 2015 Games, also available on Netflix.)

I do not have a weird fascination with golf, but really enjoyed The Short Game too. This documentary follows world championship-hopefuls, but here’s the catch: these are kids. They’re all eight and under, and the documentary talks about their love for the sport, the pressures of being a child athlete, but also the opportunities being a golfer has given them.

We also went to see Spiderman: Homecoming while we were in Seattle on our babymoon, in a theater that had the nice luxury seats but was way overheated, and I was dying through most of it. Still, fun superhero movie. Hated that it technically didn’t pass the Bechdel test, loved that it had two WOC playing lead roles.

Listening

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This is clearly the Americanist in me, but I loved this series. It tracks the rise of Oprah and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Utterly random and utterly delightful:

“In this new WBEZ podcast, Oprah Winfrey tells the behind-the-scenes story of her iconic TV talk show, along with producers, staffers, TV executives, and ratings rival Phil Donahue. The three-part series chronicles the show’s scrappy roots in Chicago, its rise to daytime dominance, and the powerful sway Winfrey came to have in American life.”

 

Tell me, what you have you been into this past month? 

What I’m Into | November 2016

What I’m reading

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This month’s theme seemed to be calling stories and anti-hagiographies. I picked up Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People at the book store and finished it in two days. Sara Miles (of Take This Bread, one of my favorite finds of 2016) shows up in the book, and that didn’t surprise me in the least–the books aren’t the same at all, but there’s an undercurrent of surprise (of all the people you would expect to become religious in such specific ways, these are not two of them) and that really appeals to me. I also read Pastrix, the first book Nadia wrote. Then Jana Riess’ Flunking Sainthood, in which Jana tries and fails at all kinds of spiritual practices (the epilogue made me cry and I also felt a lot better at all the ways I fail, so thank you, Jana).

Lastly, one of my tutoring students was working on Toni Morrison’s Beloved, prompting me to read it too. It’s so intense, but so worth the read. The central questions (at least the way I read it) are: is there such a thing as an ex-slave? Can you ever escape your past? And what does it mean to be beloved?

What I’m watching

Besides the usual suspects (NCIS, NCIS LA, Hawaii 5-0, Scorpion, Criminal Minds (what a way to write Hotch out of the series..sigh), Brooklyn Nine-Nine):

Dr Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Moana.

I liked all three of these movies. We caught an early viewing of Fantastic Beasts (10AM on a Saturday), and it was a great way to start the weekend. (My main complaint? Johnny Depp as Grindewald. The thing about evil is that it looks just like you and me–Grindewald didn’t need to be Johnny Depp-ed, in my opinion.) I went into Doctor Strange without any expectations, but turned out to really like the movie, although I rolled my eyes at all the Orientalism. And Moana was great. They did a much better job with the Polynesian aspects of her life than I honestly thought they would, and although there are certainly some valid critiques to be made, I really enjoyed it.

What I’m listening to

Slate’s Working podcast is doing a series of interviews with people whose jobs are going to become so much harder under a Trump administration. Last week, they talked to an abortion provider, and this week, an immigration lawyer working primarily with children. Both episodes are well worth the time spent.

What else I am doing with my life

Christmas, apparently! We got our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a tiny tree, partially because we didn’t want a big one, and mostly because we have a smart car and the tree had to fit in the car, so a tiny tree it was! We decorated it that weekend, and so far, the animals have left it alone. (Let’s hope that stays that way.)