Read/Watch/Listen: September 2019

Ah. September! I know it’s back-to-school season when in my dreams I’m wandering hallways unable to find any of my classes.


Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane (2019)

I read this book because it was Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Summer Reads pick, and I wanted to know what the mainstream folks are reading. Last year’s pick was Tori Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, which I loved. Call me biased, but after a summer of reading amazing queer lit, I had a hard time getting into this novel about the drama between two neighboring nuclear families with police dads. It’s a well-written book for sure, but it made me realize that just because a book is good doesn’t mean it’s for me.

Solid Seasons: The Friendship of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jeffrey S. Cramer (2019)

Thoreau and Emerson had a complicated relationship, y’all. They were friends that annoyed the hell out of each other and had some very deep conversations. Not to mention the student-teacher dynamic of the friendship was complex. The meat of the book is in the first half of it, where there’s analysis, history, context. The second-half is a series of quotes and excerpts from Thoreau and Emerson about their friendship and friendship in general.

Normal People, Sally Rooney (2018)

My second Sally Rooney book of the year because I really like her writing, even if Conversation with Friends ended up more hetero than I expected. Normal People is hetero too, following the complicated relationship between characters Connell and Marianne as they navigate high school and then college as not-quite-a-couple-but-something. But I really enjoyed this book and its depiction of an untraditional yet totally authentic young love.


I somehow didn’t watch any movies in September! But here’s some TV that I watched.

Fleabag (Season 2)

What am I going to do now that I’ve finished both seasons of Fleabag?? It really did live up to all the hype. The show won a bunch of Emmy’s this month, too. Well deserved. The humor and writing is just so good. I wish it didn’t have to end!

Transparent: The Musical Series Finale

I waited two years for a strange and yet somehow fitting conclusion to one of my favorite TV shows of all time. A couple cringe-worthy musical moments for sure, but overall this movie-length final episode worked for me. I think they did a good job handling Jeffrey Tambor’s dismissal from the show, since the finale wasn’t so much about Maura’s death but tying up the storylines of Shelley and the kids. I loved the shiva scene where many characters from previous seasons came back.

The Mind, Explained: Limited Series

Each 20-minute episode in this series by Vox explores a topic of the human mind—memory, dreams, anxiety, mindfulness, and psychedelics. My favorite episode was the one on memory, where a memory champion shared her wild tricks for memorizing crazy long lists of numbers.


Meditative Story

Each episode is a calming personal story from someone semi-famous, interjected with mindfulness prompts. It’s strangely soothing, especially the background music that accompanies each narration. The only annoying thing is that it’s sponsored by Salesforce, which they like to remind you about again and again and again.

“The Profile,” Invisibilia

I love Invisibilia, even if they’re releasing episodes one at a time instead of a full season for me to binge. In this one, a person finds and confronts someone who’s been impersonating him on the internet, using his photos on dating apps. It’s like Catfish except NPR-style.

“Where Does Our Recycling Go?,” Fresh Air

A lot of U.S. recycling used to go to China, but they’re not taking it anymore. Some other countries started accepting recyclables, and now they’ve backed off too. What’s going to happen to a surplus of recyclable waste that no one wants? A lot of it will likely end up in landfills, and it’s a problem.

“All About Instagram Influencers and How They’ve Changed Advertising,” It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders

Sam Sanders interviewed an interior decorating influencer about her journey. She only became noticed when one of her photos was reposted by Urban Outfitters. But she’d been working at her Instagram brand for much longer, with little or no profit, until that one repost. Sounds like being an influencer takes a lot of time and work and also a bit of luck. It’s essentially a full-time marketing job.

Pop Culture Happy Hour

I check in on PCHH now and then to see if they’ve reviewed any media that I’m interested in. Lately I’ve been in a lull, but I’ve gotten back into the podcast this month with their 2019 Fall Movie Preview and their recap of the 2019 Emmys. I so appreciate their recaps and seasonal previews!

Odessey And Oracle, The Zombies (1968)

I’ve been into The Zombies this month, particularly this album, probably their most famous. Besides the well-known “Time Of the Season,” this album has “Care of Cell 44,” “A Rose for Emily,” “This Will Be Our Year,” and my favorite “Beechwood Park.” The songs have this simple yet poetic storytelling that I just love.