The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is about a bizarre future society where the roles of women are pretty disturbing. In a lot of ways it pivots back to antiquated treatment and attitudes toward women, but some are still ongoing in certain cultures. Anyway, not a light read, but an important one.
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. I heard about this one on the What Should I Read Next podcast when it was recommended by an Aussie listener. Apparently this book is a pretty big deal in Australia, but it’s not really one most Americans know. It’s a mystery about three women who disappeared from a picnic outing without a trace, and I guess there was some debate as to whether it’s a true story. It’s a speedy read, and I really enjoyed it–a great combination of eerie and charming.
I’ve been watching a lot more tv than usual what with the baby, so here’s a quick rundown.
Freaks and Geeks. This series hails from 1999, and holds up so well. There are a lot of familiar faces (my favorite was a brief appearance from a tiny Shia LaBeouf) and so many funny moments.
Audrie and Daisy. A documentary about several teen girls who were sexually assaulted and then the social medias helped things get of of control. It’s about as cheery as it sounds. But a good one.
13th. A documentary about the evolution of slavery after the 13th amendment, particularly in relation to imprisonment. Again, cheery. But important.
Bletchley Circle. A series set in early 1950’s England about a group of women who were formerly code breakers in WWII and now solve crimes. I like that, for the most part, they aren’t particularly gorgeous, brave, or outgoing like some female leads tend to be. They’re pretty normal women with pretty normal lives now that the war is over; they just happen to be pretty smart. But they have to be pretty modest even about that to not raise questions about their work in the war. Anyway, I like this show.
The Crown. I’m only a couple episodes in on this one, but wow. It’s pretty to look at.
Again, more than usual.
Presidential. I’m a little sad this is already said and done because I’d have loved to follow along in real time, but I heard about it a year too late. Starting last January the Washington Post did an episode each week on every U.S. president from Washington to Trump. I’m only a few episodes in, but I’ve heard that it really brings to light how the nation has survived dud presidents in the past, and we can do it again in the future.
Twice Removed. This one makes me so happy. A family history podcast! It’s a pretty new one, so there aren’t a lot of episodes yet, but thumbs up. They have a guest and walk them through the more interesting parts of their family tree and end by introducing them to a living “mystery relative” that’s somehow relevant to some part of the episode. In the first episode I listened to the guest was Dan Savage, who I really dislike, but I really enjoyed the episode regardless.
Sword and Scale. This is true crime, and I’ve really liked every episode I’ve listened to. But it’s a little dark and probably not everybody’s cup of tea.
Prime audiobooks from Audible channels. Audible channels became a perk of Amazon Prime a while ago, but I didn’t think I cared. But I just learned that I do care because they actually have some really good titles to stream–several from my to-read list that normally have lengthy wait-lists at the library. Right now I’m listening to Columbine by Dave Cullen, but only when I’m riding the exercise bike. It’s giving me a really good incentive to exercise.
I read an article a while back exploring the phenomenon that occurred with BuzzFeed’s article on the family from Fixer Upper. I didn’t read that article from BuzzFeed (it circulated on my socials, but I avoid anything that looks like clickbait), but I gather that the Gaines family was attacked for belonging to a religion that doesn’t support gay marriage, and it was insinuated that they’d never take on a gay couple on their show, but that’s discrimination and so maybe they shouldn’t be on tv, etc. Anyway, the article I did read (written by a gay guy, incidentally) brought up some really good points about the issue of diversity:
“A 2016 survey from Pew Research Center shows public support of same-sex marriage is at an all-time high of 55 percent — and it is steadily growing. But the same polls tell us that nearly 4 out of 10 Americans — no small number! — are not on board with it. The minds at BuzzFeed are not naive: They know that the Gaineses and HGTV are going to have to come out with a public statement on same-sex marriage. They also know that if the statement is not 100 percent supportive of same-sex marriage, the network will be pressured to drop them.
“Think about that for a moment. Is the suggestion here that 40 percent of Americans are unemployable because of their religious convictions on marriage? That the companies that employ them deserve to be boycotted until they yield to the other side of the debate — a side, we should note, that is only slightly larger than the one being shouted down?
“Or maybe the suggestion is that, because they are public figures, they need to be held to a higher standard, one that does not allow them room for moral and religious convictions? But that doesn’t make sense, either.
“BuzzFeed is probably at the forefront of discussions surrounding diversity in entertainment. But do their reporters think diversity refers only to skin color? Does ideological diversity count for nothing, especially when it is representative of, again, a sizable chunk of the American public?”
It’s a great privilege to be free to have convictions, and I think we make more progress toward peace when we spend more time seeking to understand and empathize with other people’s (diverse!) convictions instead of focusing on why we are right and they are wrong.