Tag Archives: recommendation

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

betweentheworldandmeThis is a book that I instantly wish I owned multiple versions of because I feel like I need to consume it in different ways for the weight of its words to fully sink into my consciousness. I finished the audiobook version of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates a couple of weeks ago and it was MARVELOUS! The book is part memoir, part current American history and is written as a letter directly to the author’s son. Because I knew that the book followed this format, I opted to purchase the audiobook from Downpour (if you like audiobooks and you aren’t a subscriber to Downpour, you need to get on board!!) as the author was the narrator and I wanted to hear the author’s intonations and emotions as he spoke his words.

Coates is both a powerful speaker and writer. While he detailed the lessons that he was forced to learn as a black man growing up in America and contrasted them from the lessons his father had to learn and the lessons his son has already learned or will have to learn was incredibly poignant. The world has shifted significantly since his father was a child, but there is still so much room for the world and America’s culture to grow and improve. While his son currently leads a privileged life because of his father’s wealth and their family’s residence in Paris, France (all privileges Coates acknowledges), this doesn’t eliminate the ways that his son must prepare for how he will doubtlessly be seen as a young black man when he is in America. Regardless of any of his own characteristics or intentions, people will cast stereotypes upon his body and his mind and he will have to know how to evade or protect himself from them; hence, why Coates has chosen to write his son a series of lessons he has learned in his own life.

As a white woman, Between the World and Me truly illuminated the world that black parents must build and teach to their children — something that I never had to be taught by my own family. When I was a child, my innocence and piety were often assumed by strangers, but this isn’t the case for many black children who are often undeservedly assumed to be devious or guilty. One of the vignettes that stuck with me most clearly was when a white adult was extremely rude to Coates’s young son and Coates struggled to contain his anger in the face of assumptions and rights incorrectly projected onto his child. To hear this told from a parent’s perspective was heartbreaking and I admire Coates’s ability to so poignantly and clearly discuss how this affects him and his family on a micro-level, while simultaneously situating his personal experiences within historical and societal contexts. 

Between the World and Me is very of the moment (because of the renewed, necessary spotlight on racial tension and inequality in America) and also of America’s history. I believe this book will be a touchstone that people reference decades from now when trying to convey the state of race in America in the early 2000s and Coates has done a remarkable job creating a piece that will last. 

While I loved listening to this audiobook, I wish I also owned a physical version of this book so that I could highlight and come back to the most touching/provoking pieces with ease. I greatly valued hearing the author beautifully speak his story, something that most authors who aren’t trained entertainers struggle to do well. The audiobook was also quite a quick listening experience and clocked in at about 3.5 hours. My recommendation is to consume this in whatever way that it comes into your life and then consume it again and again. I’ll likely be purchasing a physical copy when I get the chance and will re-read it again in the coming years. Clearly, I profusely recommend. 

Publication date: 14 July 2015 by Spiegel & Grau. Format: Audiobook from Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.

Author/Narrator: Ta-Nehisi Coates @twitter/articles

‘Tis the season of traveling: Podcast Edition

I’m taking a momentary detour of posting book reviews to share some podcast recommendations from myself and two of my groovy friends. I spend a lot of the holiday season traveling and I subsequently spend a lot of time with my earbuds firmly in place to accompany me on my travels in planes, trains, and automobiles. I either spend my time listening to audiobooks (I’ll have a post with my end of year recommendations soon!) or podcasts.

fridaynightlivespreviewRecently, my neighbor and I were bitten by the podcast bug and decided to add our voices to the massive content hole by spending our weekend mornings recording a podcast about the TV show Friday Night Lights. So first and foremost, I request that you check out our brand new podcast Friday Night Lives, which can now be downloaded via iTunes or streamed directly from Soundcloud. In each episode of the podcast, we talk about a single episode of the show. My neighbor Jeff is a huge fan of the show and I am watching each episode for the first time and discussing how accurately they portray high school life in Texas. Once the holidays pass, we’re aiming to release an episode every Friday. We’re definitely amateurs and would really appreciate your feedback! Feel free to rate the show and leave reviews or comments!

In conjunction with the release of my very own podcast, I reached out to two of my favorite people, Mariah and Yvonne, who frequently share podcast recommendations with me and wish my monthly book club meetings about Infinite Jest were about the podcasts they listened to while they were in transit to book club instead. We each recommend three podcasts below. Feel free to download them and listen as you travel this holiday season.

Yvonne’s recommendations:

An oldie but goodie: oldie because your parents have been listening to it for years, goodie because it’s consistent in it’s charm and humor. Our dear announcer Carl Kasell retired last year, but Bill Kurtis is fitting in just right. If you like dad humor, being a know-it-all, and celebrity guests (Kim Kardashian famously split NPR devotees with her June 13, 2015 appearance)… subscribe!
wtfpodI admit that I only download the episodes of people I’m a fan of/have an interest in, but every time I’m grateful for Maron’s vulnerability and knack for getting his famous subjects to open up about the things in life that aren’t so pleasant, that don’t make for fun, gif-able moments on a late show. There’s a reason why Slate called his interview with Louis C.K. the best podcast episode of all time.
A favorite because it’s a podcast about everything and anything–and it’s done with care: Philip Glass’s life as a taxi driver, the elections in Myanmar from the perspective of the emerging youth population, Minecraft, the Detroit Institute of Arts and bankruptcy, etc.
Mariah’s recommendations:

youmustrememberthisKarina Longworth’s weekly storytelling corner documents the sordid tales of the Old Hollywood elite. Each meticulously researched episode dives deep into subjects ranging from Judy Garland to Hollywood’s first openly gay marriage. I’m in love with this podcast in spite of my indifference to most classic Old Hollywood films, but Longworth’s own brand of “creative nonfiction” keeps pulling me back in.

Try: “Carole Lombard and Clark Gable,” “Lena Horne

A podcast for the murder mystery enthusiast. Host Phoebe Judge isn’t necessarily interested in solving the crimes she covers so much as she is in giving each crime a platform beyond a blotter line. It’s a podcast that’s received glowing comparisons to Serial without being remotely like it. That’s probably a good thing.

Try: “No Place Like Home,” “The Portrait

altlatinoMusic podcasts are a favorite of mine, and NPR’s Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras team up to make one of the best. Alt.Latino delivers a weekly mix of tunes consisting of everything from Argentinian hip hop to back catalog Celia Cruz. But what distinguishes Alt.Latino from other music podcasts is the sharp cultural insight that accompanies it. Come for the music, stay for the conversation.

Try: “Starting 2015 on the Right Foot: An Alt.Latino Dance Mix,” “De Pelicula:The Best Latin Film Soundtracks Ever

Bri’s (my) recommendations:

This lovely creation described as a “podcast about the internet” ends up being a podcast about, yes, the internet, but also about all of the EMOTIONS. So far, my favorite episode they’ve done actually isn’t about the Internet at all, but is about skipping a day off of work to explore New York City — something I should really do before I leave the city.

Try: aforementioned favorite “Today’s the Day,” “Exit & Return,” “The Rainbow Pug

nottoodeepBefore podcasts, I was completely unfamiliar with YouTube star Grace Helbig. I was exposed to Grace’s charm in a guest episode of Dear Hank & John and instantly felt like I was immersed in a perfect best friendship… albeit a one-sided friendship where I listen to one person talk and she has no idea that her hypothetical best friend exists. Grace is definitely someone that I would love to hang out with and each time I see a new episode of her podcast pop up in my feed, it feels me with the same warm feeling when I see my best friend’s name pop across my caller ID.

Try: “Ep. 36 Troye Sivan

This is a new podcast that is quickly becoming my favorite. The show centers around three friends talking about different pop culture topics. While I quite enjoy perennial favorite Pop Culture Happy Hour, I gravitate more towards The Cooler because it feels less structured, is thoroughly infused with fun, and somehow made me sympathize with Taylor Swift.

Try: “Taylor vs. Mansplainers, Taking Back Snobbery, and the Downfall of American Apparel

That’s it for this year’s podcast recommendations! Tune it soon for a year-end post about the audiobooks I’ve listened to this year!