Saturday, August 17, 2019

Many Voices, Many Rooms: UPDATE

Quick update on my summer reading challenge, Many Voices, Many Rooms: Although I will be continuing to read, watch, and listen to diverse media during the last two weeks of summer, I am going to be take a hiatus from writing this blog for the next couple of weeks. I am taking some time off to enjoy the last days of summer AND, I am also in the process of finishing not one, but two, new books, which I will be self-publishing in early September.

I hope you will continue to think about reading, listening, and watching more widely -- and outside of your cultural comfort zone -- and I will publish a complete list of highlights from the last three weeks of the challenge in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here are some wicked smart kids talking about why we need diverse books (and media!). Find out more at

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey and see you again soon!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Many Voices, Many Rooms: Week 8

Highlights This Week

The first highlight this week is another "I'm late to the party" entry, Radiotopia's podcast Ear Hustle. Produced by Nigel Poor, a visual artist and now podcaster, who has been volunteering at California's San Quentin prison for eight years, and Earlonne Woods, an inmate at the prison, this podcast gives listeners a look "inside." The stories they tell are both shocking and sweet, and also important as we as a nation are forced to take a closer look at the inequities in all of our systems, including the penal system. No spoilers in this review, but season three includes a very happy ending for one of the inmates. A great listen.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray -  Another entry this week about the penal system and its effect on a family. This is a hard read, covering a wide variety of difficult human issues including bulimia, infidelity, aging, divorce, fraud, betrayal, estrangement, and abuse, but with glimmers of hope around the edges. I enjoyed spending time with these characters and this was one of those books I didn't want to end.

The Farewell - Yes! I saw Awkwafina's latest last weekend and it was as spare and effecting as promised in the previews. Make sure to stay until the very end or you'll miss the punchline of the whole movie.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Many Voices, Many Rooms: Week 7

Highlights of the Week 

Becoming by Michelle Obama - Like Crazy Rich Asians from last week's post, this is a book I had been "meaning to read," but had kind of put off because everyone I know was reading it (I am nothing if not a band-wagoner). While browsing the airport bookstore shelves, however, it leapt off the shelf demanding to be purchased. At first I was disappointed, the beginning chapters read like summary of my own life in a tight-knit family in Iowa. Little did I know this would soon make this book feel like a conversation I was having with an old friend. In the book Michelle talks about the instant affinity she felt for Iowans while on the campaign trail, "I was in Iowa, but I had the distinct feeling of being at home. Iowans, I was realizing were like Shieldses and Robinson. They didn't suffer fools. They didn't trust people who put on airs. They could sniff out a phony a mile away."
Soon, it became a book I couldn't put down. Her struggles mirrored my own struggles: "This, unfortunately, was the box checker in me. I endured misery for the sake of appearances." Her marriage mirrored my own marriage: "It sounds a little like a bad joke, doesn't it? What happens when a solitude-loving individualist marries an outgoing family [person] who does not love solitude one bit?" Her anger, my own struggles with anger: "...[F]or better or worse, I tend to yell when I'm angry. When something sets me off, the feeling can be intensely physical, a kind of fireball running up my spine and exploding with such force that I sometimes later don't remember what I said in the moment." Through it all she manages to hang on, to find herself, and to invite us all to do the same, "Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there's more growing to be done." Love. Love. Love.

On The Moth Radio Hour podcast for July 16th, 2019, there is a story told by Gaelynn Lea called "Accessablility is the New Punk Rock," about what happened when a musician with a disability refused to play non-accessible venues. If you have any doubts that one person can make a difference in the world listen to Gaelynn's story.

The movie this week, thanks to a friend who watched the same movie on a flight to Brazil, is the missing movie from last week's post. It is called Talvez uma Historia de Amor (in English, Maybe a Love Story) and it is a lovely, melancholy rom com just perfect for a flight or Friday night at the end of a long week.