Read Watch Listen: Recs from a Slacker

It’s been an odd couple of months for me, and I’ve broken my regular cadence of book-reading and movie-watching in favor of more easily digestible podcasts and TV shows. Work has been just enough crazier than usual that I haven’t really been in the mood for anything requiring too much emotional investment. On top of that, I’ve been setting aside most of my spare time to relax in the kitchen or work on a personal project.

I do, however, have a couple of things I’ve been able to invest in that I highly recommend. In addition, I’ve got a read, a listen and a watch at the top of my “Get To It Immediately” list. 

Newly Consumed: Pick it Up

onthemedia

I’m always looking for new, palatable ways to digest the news that doesn’t make me cringe and hurl my phone across the room, and I’m only about 20 years late on this one. What I love about On The Media, hosted by Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield, is that it considers current events, as well as older stories and interesting media artifacts, through the lens of media coverage.

Rather than telling you another depressing spin on the news, it considers how stories are being presented by the media and what is or isn’t being coverage. A recent episode included everything from narratives around the Greek financial crisis to the vitality of the famous “A dingo got my baby” line.

Can you tell this podcast reaches to the deepest trenches of my media and communication nerd soul?

grove

Pick up this book and read it, because it is distressingly relevant to the current state of race relations in this country. This took me an embarrassingly long time to finish, in part because I would read a few chapters and then get depressed at how familiar the cycles of racial violence and police misconduct felt.

Gilbert King tells the story of the Groveland Boys case and Thurgood Marshall’s defense of the three men falsely accused of raping a white woman in Lake County, FL. It’s an engrossing narrative that serves to highlight our country’s horrifying (recent) past and our history of racial police brutality. As my brother pointed out, it’s hard to imagine a time in the 60 years since the Groveland Boys case that this story wouldn’t feel at once familiar and relevant. 

On My List

between

I need to give myself a short respite from nonfiction since Devil in the Grove took me far too long to finish, but as soon as I’m ready this is at the top of my list. It is one of several books from the last year, including Ghettoside and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, that deals with what it is to be black in America. I’ve heard mixed responses about the format-Between is written as a letter to Coates’s son, and something of a follow-up to his 2008 memoir-but everyone seems to agree it’s an important and poignant read. 

misssimone

I tried to make it to see this documentary about Nina Simone at the San Francisco International Film Festival when I was volunteering there, but the timing never worked out. Luckily, it’s now on Netflix so I can watch it without leaving my house. Many thanks to Glen Weldon of Pop Culture Happy Hour (an NPR podcast of which I am a devotee) for his glowing review, and for reminding me of the incomparable Simone song “Four Women.”  

anotherround

Buzzfeed and I have a complicated relationship, but I’m totally excited about one of their podcasts, “Another Round” with Heben Nigatur and Tracy Clayton. I follow Clayton on Twitter and think she’s tremendous (follow her!), and am always looking for new podcasts to add into my rotation since I have the attention span of an easily bored 9-year-old. Plus, how can you not be excited about a podcast with a segment called Drunken Debates? 

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Podcasts

Podcasts have come to the rescue since I’ve been in San Francisco, riding buses left and right. At home I’m so quick to hop in the car anytime I need to get somewhere, and in my car I always blast music (just a little too loudly). But here I spend so much time walking to the bus, waiting for the bus, riding the bus, I cycle through my favorite playlists pretty quickly. One solution is to get new music so I don’t get bored, and never you fear I’m all over that. But I also love to listen to books on tape or radio shows. Enter the podcast.

I used to be so wary of podcasts since in my mind they belonged to the realm of the nerd, sitting in front of his computer spouting information no one wants to hear. They fell in the same category as bad college radio. Obviously that’s not true, since there are podcasts on just about any subject you could ever be interested in.

Cheaper than a book on tape, and more varied as well, podcasts are like radio without the advertisements. Stories and music on demand, if you will. I don’t know why it took me so long to get on board with podcasts as brilliant option for commuting and traveling, but now I’m hooked. I can bop along to the music of All Songs Considered, or listen to Grantland writers discuss the weeks entertainment releases. When I was stuck in the Atlanta airport for 3 hours I listened to a podcast of the best music of the past decade, which included discussions and samples of the songs.

I realize this is a post that should have been written in 2006. Sue me, I’m behind the times. However, I’m happy riding the bus while listening to podcasts with a look of late-to-the-game wonder in my eyes as I’m fed the 40 minutes of entertainment I want.

A few of my favorite podcasts? I’m a big NPR fan, so I love All Songs Considered for new music and music conversations. This American Life, on the other hand, is great for some good stories. When I venture away from NPR I like the Grantland Network Hollywood Prospectus podcasts, although all of theirs are good, particularly for sports fans who don’t have all day to sit in front of Sports Center. Other channels I’ll download just an episode or two from, like TED or various yoga & wellness podcasts.

So for those of you who are laughing thinking “Oh Molly, it’s cute how she finally listens to podcasts,” do you have any favorites? Or better yet, any recommendations for how to pass the time on the bus?