Current Events Recommended Weekly Reads

Reads and Listens: November 3 – 8, 2019

A crisp, lovely morning here in North Carolina and I am back again on my not-so-regular schedule. This week I’ve started enjoying coffee and poetry for breakfast. Every time I run across a poem by Mary Oliver, a find myself awestruck. Six months or so ago, I bought an anthology of her poems entitled, Devotions, and have decided to start the day by reading a few. It is a peaceful, grounding way to begin.

The next two suggestions are on the lighter side. There is so much to be concerned about these days. We need to find ways to balance out the heavy and remember there is fun in the world. Try this one from the New Yorker on the appeal of astrology when we’re feeling of kilter.

Next up is a piece a friend posted on Facebook that had me sitting in the Dallas Airport with tears rolling down my face because I was laughing so hard. The Case for Checking a Bag is by Roxanne Gay. She is a great writer and, in this piece that she published on Medium, very funny! You’re welcome.

Finally, here’s a listen that is serious. Many of you know I am a big fan of the NYT Daily Podcast. I usually listen while I’m getting dressed in the morning. This episode aired yesterday. (11/7/19) and details the case the Supreme Court is considering regarding transgender rights in the work place. The Daily has much to recommend it. Not only does the podcast take you behind the scenes of a particular story to let reporters explain their craft in gathering facts and communicating a story, the host, Micheal Barbaro, also allows the listener to hear directly from the people involved. This episode is a particularly compelling and informative example.

books Recommended Weekly Reads

Reads and Listens September 15 – 20

Many people I know say they never have time to read anything for pleasure or general enrichment. I get it. It’s hard to give yourself over to a novel or even a long form magazine article when there’s the house, the work, the kids, the parents, the friends and… let’s face it the phone. My own habit is to read before bed and when I can’t sleep. Sometimes that makes for ten minutes a day, sometimes that means an hour or more. But it’s something, and just like putting pennies in a piggy bank, over a year, it adds up to a lot of books read, a lot of extra knowledge, and, at least for me, a richer life.

Podcasts are also a pleasure I love. I listen in the car, when I take a break for a 20 minute walk around campus, or sometimes while cooking dinner. So much better than TV news. More depth, no endless commercials.

Here’s what’s on tap this week.

The last time I made suggestions, I wrote about the 1619 project in the New York Times. Now, on their podcast, The Daily, they are dropping sections of 1619 every Saturday. Here’s the one I’m listening to now.

You can download it or listen to it now on your computer. Powerful stuff.

Next up is a book I’ve been revisiting that will feature prominently in my next blog. Mary Ann in Autumn by Amistead Maupin. This is part of the Tales of the City Series that started years ago – I read the series in my 20s – and happily, does not seem to want to end. Netflix recently made this one into series to stream which made me want to go back to it. It’s just a skim this time – but pleasurable none the less.

Of course there’s so much in the news, but I’m not going there in this post. Instead, I’ll send this out for all my fellow professors out there. An article I saw in the Chronicle of Higher Education details the impact of this simple teaching strategy – learning your students names. Although its not so hard this semester when I’m teaching a very small seminar, I’ve always felt better when I could quickly learn my students’ names. I knew it was important to me. This article says its important to them too.

Look for a longer post featuring Mary Ann in Autumn by the end of the weekend. And don’t forget to like the post and leave a comment about what you’ve been reading this week!

Recommended Weekly Reads

Reading and Watching Ideas – August 23, 2019

Well, I resolved to start this feature a few weeks ago as a weekly offering on the blog and did not follow through.  Nothing to do, but start again.  Here are some ideas for your reading and watching pleasure this week.

First and foremost, everyone should read the  New York Times 1619 Project  . It came out in print last Sunday in the Magazine and is a series of essays, poems, short fiction, and photographs that bring to light how little  most of America, particularly White America, understands about the role slavery and Jim Crowe have played in the economic success of the U.S.  Further, it documents the deliberate choices that have been made over and over again to keep Black Americans from full opportunity and citizenship.  It is upsetting and sad and real and important.  It is also dense.  I’ve been reading it over the course of the week and am about 3/4 of the way through.  This is history we all should know but many have not learned. Let’s remedy that. Truth-telling is important.

Next, take a moment to watch this clip that features a friend and colleague from Duke,  Jeffery Swanson on ABC . Jeff has been all over the news lately,  a testament to a life of strong scholarship that is making a difference.  With the inappropriate convolution of mental health problems and mass shootings, Jeff’s life’s work of understanding what links, if any, exist between mental illness and violence, is having a moment. Bravo!

Finally, we all need a bit of escape these days.  If you’re a mystery lover like me and have not tried   Louise Penny’s   Three Pines series featuring her soulful detective from the Surete’ de Quebec, Amand Gamache, hurry out to a local bookstore like our Chapel Hill favorite Flyleaf Books to see what you’ve been missing!