Bits and Bobs, Summer 2019 edition

This weekend I went on a climbing trip and, assuming I wouldn’t have much time for reading, I only brought one book, of which I was two-thirds of the way done. (I know!) I finished it on the way there, leaving the drive home bereft and bookless. I used that time to catch up on some online things that had been kicking around my “to read” list and they were each excellent.

I rarely read short fiction collections but, as with poems, a good short story can bend your brain or punch you in the gut-heart or pour hot chocolate on your soul. Ditto essays, as with item #3 below.

  1. Conduction,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates brings his brilliance to the persona of a newly freed man lending his talents and experience to the Underground Railroad.
  2. The Crane Wife,” by CJ Hauser. A tale of re-packing oneself after a relationship ends. Quick and lovely.
  3. The Books that Bear the Weight of the Living,” by Angelique Stevens. A memoir piece about how books can, and also cannot, save us from ourselves and each other.

Yesterday, I sat myself down to read Eve Ensler’s The Apology. It’s a slim 100+ pages and I knew the best approach for me would be to try to absorb it in a single push. In a work that defies genre, Ensler takes on the persona of her abusive father and writes the reckoning and apology that she never got from him in life. It’s a stunning exercise in empathy, a template for all who need to make amends, and—like Tara Westover’s Educated—a rebuke of gas-lighting, an act of truth-telling that insists that these things happened. It’s one of those “everyone should read it” books but perhaps the most important audience is men. (Ensler’s interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast is also worth a listen.)

Image result for the apology ensler

Last, a couple of fun things:

  1. Reading Glasses podcast with Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara brings you two smart, thoughtful women discussing what they’re reading, interviewing authors, and answering listeners’ reading conundrums. It’s a nerdy delight.
  2. I made this Smitten Kitchen simplification of an Ottolenghi dish and it’s worth every bit of the slightly-more-than-standard-weeknight-dinner time: Black Pepper Tofu and Eggplant. Turns out Smitten’s “let’s make this functional” approach tempers Yotam Ottolenghi’s virtuosity and deliciousness ensues.

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