Don’t mind us. We’re just getting through this heat wave by chilling with our summer reads, TV shows, and podcast binges. A tall glass of lemonade, with or without additive, really pairs well with them. Don’t judge! Need some recommendations? We have plenty!
From Helene Atwan, Contributing Editor
Now that I’m finally, mostly, retired, I’m looking forward to really reading for pleasure, which means rereading a few novels I feel like I powered through, rushing to get to the nonfiction, though they deserved a more leisurely pace, including Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, and Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman. I’ve also got The History of Love, Nicole Krauss’s 2006 book, which I found only half read as I was sorting books. Busy times, what can I say?
And I’m going to listen to a whole bunch of Beacon titles for the sheer pleasure of it, including Judy Heumann’s Being Heumann, because it’s read by Ali Stroker, and finally indulge myself in listening to the award-winning narrator JD Jackson read James Baldwin’s many essays collected in The Price of the Ticket. I might just have to dole them out to myself, so they last through the fall.
From Beth Collins, Production Manager
I have been watching and rewatching 100 Foot Wave on HBO, a six-part documentary about a professional surfer’s ten-year quest to hunt down and surf the biggest waves the in the world. It’s kind of like if Captain Ahab was on a surfboard and chased Moby Dick to Portugal. It literally has more drama, excitement, and action than most Hollywood films. Just watch the first episode, and I bet you will be hooked. Pun intended.
From Avery Cook, Sales and Marketing Assistant
I loved Julie Otsuka’s new novel The Swimmers. I had heard an excerpt read on an NPR podcast and was hooked on the collective first-person voice—as I always am—and on the strange, limited profile that’s created from seeing people only through their interactions at a gym pool. When their world begins to crumble, the novel hits a stride that had me glued to the page until I reached the end. It’s heartbreaking in a relieving way, because it feels so uniquely honest about and compassionate to the swimmers who once shared their lives and lanes together in one place.
From Alyssa Hassan, Associate Director of Marketing
A plane disappears, everyone’s presumed dead, and it reappears five years later, and while the world has aged, everyone on the plane is the same age as when they left. There’s secret government operations, a cult-like group, a bunch of people who fear the returned, and at the center of it all, a family who really loves each other and wants to figure out what happened to them. Also, there’s a guy slowly dying of hypothermia as he’s just walking around living his life and getting married. Can’t give too much away on that. But it’s hilarious. What I really enjoy is how many times they repeat certain phrases like “Did you have the calling?” and “Death date.” And whoever told these actors that to really sell it they need to act with their eyes, got a whole cast having the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen in every single scene. The amount of fear, anxiety, worry, confusion, and sometimes happiness they show through their eyes is like nothing I’ve ever seen. And Netflix stepped up and is doing a final season because there was one hell of a cliffhanger!
I started watching Black Summer because Netflix recommended it as a TV show I might like. It’s about the zombie apocalypse but was just too serious for my taste right now. So, I did a little Googling and found out it was a prequel of sorts to Z Nation, a SyFy show. Now I’ve had good luck with SyFy shows (12 Monkeys is an absolute fave), but they have embraced the ridiculous with this show. They’re laughing right along with us. It’s got a zombie tornado (same group that did the Sharknado movies), a guy who is the hope for humanity because he’s got antibodies . . . and he might be turning into a zombie, and DJ Qualls. He rocks. I’m only six episodes in but I’m on board for this show. From what I’ve read, there’s some zombie dance number in a couple seasons, and I can’t wait!
From Nicole-Anne Keyton, Assistant Editor
Reading: Shrapnel Maps, a poetry collection by author and activist Philip Metres, professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University. Using documentary poetics (vintage postcards, found records, erasure maps of the Middle East, and military dispatches), Metres navigates the past and present of Palestine and Israel in order to interrogate possibilities for a Palestinian future.
Favorite poems: “Ode to the Oranges of Jaffa” and “Future Anterior”
Watching: What began as a comedic riff off Star Trek tropes has now started to take itself seriously. Episodes from the latest season, now streaming on Hulu, cover topics such as suicide, trans rights, feminism, nationalist propaganda, and even a rigged election. The Orville manages to confront the issues we face today through the veil of science fiction, which might make them easier to introduce to some of your more politically polarized relatives than more direct approaches to difficult conversations.
Listening: Exolore, a world-building podcast with astrophysicist and folklorist Dr. Moiya McTier.
Favorite episode: “The World of Freedom,” in which the podcast speakers collectively envision a world free from colonization and slavery.
From Gayatri Patnaik, Director
I recently returned from Asia and have been experiencing jetlag the last few days, so at four every morning, I’ve been obsessively listening to Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley. And wow! This is an incredibly powerful, thought-provoking and also beautifully narrated book (by Joniece Abbott-Pratt) about corruption in the Oakland police department, inspired by a true story. Leila Mottley just became the youngest person, at twenty, to be nominated for the Booker Prize. And what a talent she is! I can’t wait to read her next book.