Friday, May 31, 2019

Summer Reading Guide 2019

As summer approaches and temperatures rise, the days stretch into evening and the bibliophile's heart turns to thoughts of what to read next. I've compiled a list of ten books I'm excited about this summer, and I think they'll be perfect whether your reading spot of choice is a sunny beach or a cozy couch.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book by Susan Orlean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.”

The Library Book practically sings with the music of gorgeously crafted sentences. It’s part history, part mystery, and all love letter to libraries – the books that fill them, the patrons that use them, and the staff that keeps them humming along.

It centers around a 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library that destroyed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. The Fire Department said it was arson; but if so, who was the culprit? You’ll have to read the book to see how that tale unfolds.

Friday, May 24, 2019

What's new on Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video & Hulu in June 2019

The shows and movies dropping into various streaming options this June include several exciting titles. I always make myself a list of what to watch for, so I'll share that with you, highlighting the ones I'm anticipating most and including links to full lists of new titles for each platform. Here we go!

New on Netflix in June 2019

Most anticipated: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on June 26. This megahit took the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and has been on my to-rent list ever since it dropped on digital (I love it when something I'd been meaning to rent lands on a service I already subscribe to). The trailer looks gorgeous! For an enthusiastic discussion to whet your appetite while you wait, check out the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast singing its praises.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Writers decades ago earned more, begging the question: WTF?

Freelance writers, wrap your head around this: "Hemingway signed a fresh contract with Collier’s in early 1944 that would pay him $3,000 per 2,500- to 3,500-word article." That's more than $43,000 today. 

Paying writers in palm slaps is NOT cool cool cool.The article about Hemingway focused on his filing a massive bill for expenses (it was $13,000 in WW2-era cash, or $187,000 when adjusted for inflation). The headline was about the expenses, but the part of the article that grabbed me highlighted how much more people used to be able to make freelancing for magazines and newspapers.

Just imagine making even the $3,000 today, never mind how much he got when adjusted for inflation. Most freelancers get nothing like that for a piece. Maybe if you're a recognizable name, but few get the David Sedaris rate (he's in a position to demand top dollar, and I hope he does).

Friday, May 17, 2019

Prairie Fires reveals hardship lurking in the Little House books

Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser
If you grew up reading the Little House books and wondered if the tale was sugarcoated for children (it was), have I got the book for you – Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. She deservedly nabbed the Pulitzer Prize for biography for this book in 2018.

Fraser dug deep into any records she could find, fleshing out details lurking between the lines of the story told in the children's books. It's a fascinating read.

As I wrote a few years back, I grew up cherishing the Little House books. As a child I didn’t just play house, I played Little House. I imagined living in a log cabin while pining for a piece of horehound candy and a tin mug to call my own. I craved a gingham dress even though I couldn’t pick a gingham anything out of a lineup.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review: Daisy Jones & the Six takes readers on a realistic, rockin' ride

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is better than it has any right to be. An oral history about a band, that isn’t a real band, told entirely through interviews, that aren’t real interviews? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. And yet … it works. So well. It’s so engaging, feels so real. It opens the portal to every rock documentary, interview, book about a band and performance I’ve ever loved.

As I read, I connected to the characters in this book while at the same time an invisible thread was binding all my past music loves to me and to this story. It's magic.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Podcasts that rock

Podcasts that rockA good podcast is like a glass of fine wine (preferably the chocolate variety): it fills you with a happy glow, leaves you wanting more, and might even knock you off your feet.

Whether you listen on your commute, at the gym, or just puttering around the house, these podcasts will rock your socks:

This American Life 

This podcast focuses on a different theme each week, comprised of several segments. The masterful storytelling, humor, drama and even a few plot twists will draw you in.
Standout episodes: The Super and Petty Tyrant are both deliciously engrossing, shocking, and fascinating. Listen with a buddy, because you will definitely want someone to share stunned observations with.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes: Best bets to read, listen and watch

If you can't get enough of tales about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, have I got a slew of bingeable options for you. Take your pick: listen, watch or read, there are many ways to ingest this endlessly fascinating story.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Patti Smith's "Just Kids" shares an enthralling look at art, love and friendship

Just Kids by Patti SmithNote: I originally posted my review of Just Kids in 2015 and have updated it in honor of its selection as the 2019 "One Book, One New York" reading program winner earlier this week.

I first read this beautiful, infatuating memoir more than three years ago. Just Kids had already waited silently on my Kindle for nearly three years at that time, bought on a whim thanks to a sale price and lush reviews. But with almost no knowledge of Patti Smith or her work, I foolishly let it languish along with so many other titles destined to collect digital dust.

The book details her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe that spanned from the late ’60s until his death from AIDS in 1989. Smith made her arrival in NYC at age 20 with only one suitcase, little cash and no fixed residence. She met Mapplethorpe the first day, and they soon forged a close bond that left them emotionally entwined and dear friends long after their initial romance faded.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Big Little Lies returns in June, Nine Perfect Strangers coming to Hulu

Liane Moriarty can't stop winning. Season two of the HBO must-see series Big Little Lies (based on  her bestselling book) begins on June 9, while her latest bestseller, Nine Perfect Strangers, just got the greenlight at Hulu. Nicole Kidman will produce and star.