What I’m Reading and Listening to This Week

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira imagines the relationship between painters Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. I’ve had to put it down temporarily to focus on some teaching prep, but so far, it’s a lovely novel that evokes the beauty and creativity flourishing among artists living in 19th-century Paris.

I’m revisiting one of my favorite novels, Beloved by Toni Morrison. I started teaching a 1:1 U.S. History/English course, and I’m beginning the class with the factors leading up to the Civil War. Rather than try to teach two separate classes within the span of 1.5 hours, I’m integrating the study of literature with that of history. If this is the only novel the student reads this year, she will have read an amazing work packed with so much beauty and sorrow and horror.

Lastly, I started Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I had no idea who Brown was until I heard her on Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, but now I seem to read and hear about her on many different sources. I love a good self-help book, and this one seems promising.

Despite my resolve to listen to all downloaded podcasts before finding more, I couldn’t help myself when I discovered this gem of a show. I read about Lizzie and Kat’s The Blaze podcast in the comments section of a Vulture article and am addicted. Each show is devoted to an episode of my favorite guilty pleasure, Beverly Hills 90210. Lizzie, Kat, and their guests discuss the plot, analyze the fashions, and gossip about the show’s cast. They are hilarious, and in addition to all things 90210, their show is laced with tons of pop culture references from the ‘80s to today. (Confession: I’m totally old and don’t get the newer stuff…but there’s plenty for those of us who graduated in the early ‘90s.) The podcast started in December 2014 and is going show-by-show through each season of 90210. Currently, I’m listening to the first season, aka the first junior year.

I have to give a shout-out to my favorite podcast, The Walking Dead ‘Cast, which is dedicated to The Walking Dead series. Each week, Jason and Karen recap the latest episode, discuss what show elements did and did not work, and chat about all things zombie. They are funny and knowledgeable, and since discovering this show last fall, I haven’t missed an episode.

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