On Thursday evening, barely two days after returning from the Grand Canyon, I realized I had scheduled four evening plans on top of each other. Somehow, I managed to add to my calendar: an outdoor haircut, a FaceTime with an East Coast friend, a distanced park date with another, and a walk with a third. All for 5 PM. So that pretty much sums up how my week has been: Chaotic, crazed, and full to the brim! Here are four things I loved this week:
Emily St. John Mandel's previous novel, Station Eleven, a post-apocalyptic thriller about a traveling Shakespeare troupe, is one of my favorites, so I saved her latest novel, The Glass Hotel, for our road trip—which, in retrospect, may not have been my best idea. The book was even better than I anticipated it would be, and I couldn't put it down, reading it late into the night despite early mornings.
The story is grounded in a mysterious, remote glass hotel off of Vancouver Island but quickly expands to follow the marriage of Vincent, the bartender, and a former guest and financial mogul, plus a cast of characters that, like St. John Mandel's last book, is comprised primarily of artists. The best way into this book is headfirst—don't even read the cover copy, which gives away too much. But be forewarned: You'll have a hard time putting it down once you do!
Two recent releases I'm excited about: Ever since seeing Alyssa Cole's thriller When No One Is Watching described as Rear Window meets Get Out, I've been eagerly awaiting its release! Also, Rumaam Alam (author of Rich and Pretty) has a new book out this month, Leave the World Behind. Read it before the Netflix film starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts comes out!
Recorded before the shutdown, the one-woman show The Peculiar Patriot is available on Audible and features "artivist" Liza Jessie Peterson performing at the National Black Theater in Harlem. The show features one side of a conversation when Peterson visits a friend in prison. In doing so, she sheds light on our truly messed up, for-profit criminal justice system, with empathy, knowledge, and even, somehow, humor. It's short enough to listen to on a walk, and is an emotional sucker-punch (in a good way).
Crazy coincidence story for you: At a publishing post-grad program I attended in 2014, we had the assignment to pitch a book to a major publisher. I pitched a cookbook by one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in New York, Xi'an Famous Foods, written by the owners' son, Jason, and photographed by one of my favorite food bloggers, Jenny Huang. It got "rejected" in our fake publishing assignment scenario, but fast-forward to my jaw dropping when I discovered that *that very cookbook* comes out tomorrow... No joke. Xi'an Famous Foods: The Cuisine of Western China, from New York's Favorite Noodle Shop is written by Jason Wang and photographed by Jenny Huang. Choosing to take this as a "great minds think alike" coincidence, but mostly I'm just so flippin' excited to cook spinach dumplings and lamb noodles!
If the most recent cover of New York Magazine is any indication—the White House underneath the words "E Pluribus QAnon"—conspiracy theories are running rampant. And it's worth noting how completely insane these theories are, like the one that claims Wayfair is selling children online (not for child prostitution, which is very real albeit not via the online furniture store, but so that Hollywood elite can harvest a youth serum from them) and this truly baffling anti-mask rally (??!?). In a recent Armchair Expert episode, Dax Shepard interviews reporter and documentary filmmaker David Farrier who's spent the past several months diving into some of these theories. Their discussion is a fascinating—and necessary—look at how and why conspiracies develop. Once you've listened to it, be sure to check out Farrier's new Netflix series Dark Tourism and documentary, Tickled (a fascinating doc that unfolds as he's creating it).
1. This extremely helpful ballot tool from Vote Save America came out today and enables people in all 50 states to enter the address where they're registered to vote and see the candidates and measures on your ballot, because the presidential pick is just one part of it!
3. Miss movies? Rent your own theater!
4. In celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day (today!), watch this panel hosted by the National Museum of the American Indian at 1 PM Eastern (10 AM PST).
5. "The climate crisis will profoundly interrupt the way we live and farm in the United States."
6. These animal photos made me laugh!
7. How AI judges your face.
8. Listened to this album all week.
9. "When you eat a dried fig, you’re probably chewing wasp mummies, too." Nature!!