Summer reading/listening

DSC_3413It has been a fine summer of wordy entertainment, and too long since we compared reading lists. I could swear that I already wrote about half of these recommendations but I went looking for what I said and I can find nothing. So perhaps I just thought about how I really needed to share them with you enough times that it feels like I already did? Or maybe this is the second time I’m telling you, in which case you should take that for the enthusiastic recommendation it is.

To read:

Being Mortal might be the most important book I’ve read in awhile. The subtitle is “Medicine and What Matters in the End” and it is a truly insightful and hopeful take on aging and dying in our society. Before you run away from the topic, let me just say that 1. it’s full of good stories; and 2. I’m genuinely tempted to send a copy to every member of my family.

– In contrast, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder is not at all important. But if you grew up loving Little House as much as I did, you should know about this book. Pioneer Girl is the first manuscript Wilder wrote, an autobiography for an adult audience that was never picked up by a publisher, which then became the basis for the series of somewhat-fictionalized juvenile books we all know and love. This giant volume (the annotations!) and I spent many hours in the hammock together.

All the Light You Cannot See isn’t exactly a hot tip. It’s won all sorts of awards. For very good reason. It is a beautiful novel. Stunningly beautiful. Equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking in the way that the best stories of humanity are. Read it. I promise.

Other books I’ve read recently that I would recommend: Can’t We Talk About Something More PleasantGhost Boy, and 10% Happier.

To listen:

– I remember catching a couple episodes of On Being in the car years ago and enjoying it, but it never crossed over to my podcast list like so many other NPR programs. I fixed that recently, and have found myself listening to an awful lot of these conversations ever since. There are so many gems, but a few recent favorites include Sister Simone Campbell, John A. Powell, and Pico Iyer.

– I’m also pretty new to the Death, Sex, and Money podcast, but this episode on siblinghood was pretty great.

– Hat tip to the amazing Brain Pickings newsletter for this one: a Neil Gaiman lecture on how stories last. Trust me. It’s an hour-long talk, followed by a Q&A session. I’m still thinking about so many little bits from this, including our only hope for communicating the danger of nuclear waste with a half-life of 10,000 years.

How about you? What has been inspiring and entertaining you this summer?