podcasts

Podcasts I’ve Been Devouring

For some reason, I’ve been more in the mood for podcasts the past couple of weeks. And I’ve been having better luck finding ones that are really engaging stories and relevant to my interests. Here are some I recommend:

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  • 18 Days (WUSA): 18 Days follows the disappearance of Relisha Rudd, an eight-year-old girl from Washington D.C. This case is maddening and so sad. Relisha was either given to or taken by a janitor at the homeless shelter she lived at with her family. She was not reported missing by her family for 18 days. Instead, she was reported missing by people at her school who realized that the “doctor” that was excusing her absences was not a doctor at all but the janitor, Khalil Tatum. In this three-part series you learn what police know (which is not much) and you hear from Relisha’s mother and grandmother. The saddest thing is that the people who would know where Relisha is are gone.

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  • Dr. Death (Wondery): What a podcast. In the same vain as Dirty John, Dr. Death follows a charismatic man who should’ve been stopped before he continued to hurt people. Unlike Dirty John though, Christopher Duntsch was not a fraud, he was an actual neurosurgeon. The host focuses not just on the doctor’s behavior, but also how the medical establishment let this doctor keep moving from hospital to hospital, continuing to hurt, maim, and kill patients. The podcast gives victims and doctors who stepped in a voice. It will be a six-part series total… currently there are four episodes out.

In the Dark

  • In The Dark (APM Reports): Probably the best podcast I’ve listened to in a good while. There are currently two seasons and each season follows a separate case. Season one is about the abduction of a young boy from Minnesota whose case goes unsolved for 27 years. The investigative journalists discover problems with the police investigation and why the killer evaded prosecution for so long. The second season is about Curtis Flowers, a man from Mississippi who has been tried for the same crime six times for the past 21 years, winning his appeal each time. The podcast focuses on the evidence and the District Attorney’s handling of the case. The reporting in season two is incredible.

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  • The Pope’s Long Con (Louisville Public Media): I was so sucked into this podcast. It’s only six parts and each episode is about 20 minutes. Plus, this podcast follows a bonkers story and a peculiar man, Danny Ray Johnson. He was an elected public official in Kentucky who lied about many of his qualifications and life experiences. He was a pastor of a biker church that illegally sold alcohol and where congregants could bring their guns. And that’s just the beginning. Hearing his tearful sermon stating that we must elect Donald Trump or face the worst America possible; hearing his sexual assault accuser who was 17 at the time speak her truth; and hearing how this story ends will have you on the edge of your seat. How could this man have been elected to public office?

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  • Septic (Roanoke Times): Septic is a seven-part podcast about the death of Noah Thomas, a five-year-old boy who was found inside of the family septic tank four days after he went missing. His mother, Ashley White, left her children unattended while she slept. Soon, everyone in the area accused Ashley’s negligence as the sole reason Noah died. This podcast is thoughtful and compassionate, taking into account the steps Ashley took to be a better mother and questioning the town’s social media reactions to her after the tragedy.

 

On my radar next:

  • 16 Shots (WBEZ / Chicago Tribune): About Laquan McDonald’s death at the hands of a police officer.
  • Missing Alissa: Looks at the unsolved case of a missing teen from Arizona. She’s been missing for 17 years.
  • The Teacher’s Pet (The Australian): About the disappearance of a housewife and mother in Australia. I started this one a few weeks ago but didn’t get too far.
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reading week

Reading Week: May 7 – 13, 2018

Finished:

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I thought I would really fall for this true crime book and ultimately thought it was good but not great. Partly, I think it’s because I listened on audio and partly I think it’s because McNamara sadly didn’t get to finish her book. It was interesting to hear about a case I knew little about and I am patiently waiting for the HBO docuseries.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay. It was glorious to be back at Hogwarts. The audiobook by Jim Kay is so cinematic, charming, and enjoyable. Of course, the illustrations are beautiful too.

Currently reading:

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I’m listening to this on audio and it is pretty easy to follow along. This is a book I’ve been meaning to get to for ages just because of how often it comes up in other books, documentaries, and podcasts I consume.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I started a buddy read of this. I have not reread this favorite classic of mine since high school… almost 10 years ago! I hope I fall in love with it again.

reading week

Reading Week: April 30-May 6, 2018

Finished:

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold. Both ended up being two stars, which is a bummer, but I am excited for Sharp Objects on HBO and think it will be better suited for TV. I don’t know why I’ve been giving so many books two stars this year, but it’s totally possible I’ve gotten over giving books three stars when they really deserve two.

Currently reading:

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara – which I should’ve just held out for the print or ebook version as I’m pretty confused listening on audio. I guess I understand in general everything, but I wish I understood victims/survivors and police/investigators better. Again, might be better for HBO for me.

It by Stephen King. I started up the audio/ebook again and was really getting into it when other audiobook holds came in. I need to read more; I really enjoy how Stephen King writes characters.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone illustrated edition by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay + the audio. I haven’t reread Harry Potter ever. The first and only time I read this book was freshman year of high school. It’s time for a reread. I am loving it; it is cinematic, whimsical, easy to read.

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reading week

May 22-28, 2017

The past five days have been a total blur, so much so that I didn’t even post on Sunday/Monday about my week in reading. It is now the following Friday, and yet another reading week is almost over.

All of the blame goes to a super cute new puppy friend we made that Thomas rescued last weekend. Let me introduce you to Sam…he also goes by Sam Finnegan, Pup-Pup, and Lil Baby. He has been a handful when it comes to feeding, training, taking out every 2-3 hours because his bladder is tiny, puppy classes, first vet appointments, and of course receiving much loving and attention from us. He is very cute, but he is also hogging up all the time!

I also started volunteering/interning at the UF libraries with a College of Journalism & Communications librarian, which is also a new development that has been taking up some of my time (and requires early mornings)! I have enjoyed it so far. That plus continuing my weekly volunteering at the public library has me feeling like I have found enough things to put on my plate this summer before we leave for Colorado.

This post also was supposed to be done during Memorial Day weekend, which was my brother Junior’s birthday. He is 10 now… so that’s ludicrous and real life. My baby brother is 10. I went home and celebrated with him.

Anyway, let’s finally talk about the reading I’ve been doing. (Honestly, not much.) Since my last post I’ve finished The Vegetarian by Han Kang, which was one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year. It was hard to put down the first 2/3rds, extremely sad, but also smart and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed my experience reading it with two other lovely ladies as part of a buddy read, and I definitely will read Human Acts before the year is over.

I also finished Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald. It was a completely different kind of graphic memoir, looking at the history of photobooths and then entwining that with the author’s own personal history with photobooths. Some parts were more engaging than others – I don’t really feel the same niche passion about photobooths, but I can definitely tell it was important to the author. I enjoyed learning more about what photobooths meant to the author and her reminiscing.

I did get back into audiobooks this week. On Friday I drove for five hours for Junior’s birthday, and for the majority of those five hours I listened to The Song Machine by John Seabrook. It is super easy to listen to, especially because it’s about pop songs and narratives I know. As I got home I had an hour or so left, which I got to finish on my drive back north on Monday.

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reading week

May 15-21, 2017

My reading week has not been I’ve-finished-books productive, but it has been productive in starting new things I have been really excited about and am enjoying.

I finished Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, which I was close to finishing last week. I liked it, but it struggled to resonate emotionally for me. I felt this same way with Another Brooklyn, which is slightly disappointing, but I do value the themes and topics Woodson explores and I do enjoy her writing. I finished The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg too. I enjoyed that a lot more than I initially expected. It was so whimsical, self-aware, and fun to see bamf women and girls outsmart manipulative punks. I liked it quite a bit.

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Right now I’m in the middle of three things: Pride and Prejudice, The Vegetarian, and Photobooth: A Biography. I am finally reading my first Austen – and a book I had on my 2017 TBR list – with three lovely women as part of a buddy read. I am about a third of the way through and I am so interested to see how this will come together. I want to learn more about both Elizabeth and Darcy. So far I love the dialogue and have been enjoying listening to it on audiobook on YouTube.

I am reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang, which I started quite a few days ago. I read the first 60 pages in a sitting or two and was so HOOKED IN. Everything about it is calling me to rate it 5 stars so far. I love the way it’s written/translated and it’s so suspenseful, gripping, and thought-provoking. I’ve joined a buddy read of it now too, so I will definitely be finishing that soon.

Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald is something else I have started. I am really enjoying its set-up: I find myself most interested in graphic novels/memoirs that don’t follow the typical graphic novel structure. It also mixes both the author’s experience with an actual history of photobooths which is teaching me a lot!

I’ve been failing recently on audiobooks. I think it’s mostly because I don’t have to drive for long periods of time right now, so I am still reading Maya Angelou’s autobiography. I started H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, listened to an hour, and decided to return it. I don’t think I want a book centering on grief at the moment. I felt like I wanted something more light, so I checked out The Song Machine by John Seabrook, which I have heard mentioned often in the Switched On Pop podcast. We’ll see if I finish any audiobooks this week. I should be moving the majority of my stuff into Thomas’s house for safekeeping, so maybe I’ll listen to audiobooks as I go about finishing packing and doing the move.

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reading week

May 8-14, 2017

My reading this week was a bit more stilted than last week. I feel like last week I was go, go, go right after Thomas left for his trip. This week was a bit more slow, but I still got some things accomplished.

I finished Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar, which was fantastic. I’m almost sure I liked it more than Into Thin Air (I’m placing all the outdoorsy hiking tragedy books in my head I suppose). It was so fascinating to learn about something so mysterious, creepy, and seemingly unsolvable. We will not know what actually happened, probably ever. But it was insightful to learn what theories have been posited before and to learn Eichar’s new theory as well. I definitely learned a lot about Russia I didn’t know prior, including information about the Mansi people, the importance of hiking for many young adults at the time, and the incredible weather conditions they faced. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t make it to on my favorites list at the end of the year.

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The moment I realized I was going to have nightmares that night.

I also finished the first volume of the Archie reboot. To be honest, it was slightly disappointing most of the way through. I think I am way more lenient towards graphic novels, and especially first volumes, but I thought there was room for improvement here. Overall, I enjoyed the tone and the characters (I can easily say I liked this Archie way more than The CW’s rendition of Archie), but I think some spark was lacking. Maybe it was that I expected automatic friendship between Betty and Veronica. It’s highly likely I am comparing this reboot to The CW show too much, because I’ve never read any Archie comics before. I will try volume two though.

I started a few things this week too, which I’m hoping to finish next week. I need to get it together and finish Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I am enjoying it, but it’s not one I crave to pick up. I have less than 75 pages to go, probably. I also started The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg on Sunday, which I hope to finish soon. I’m definitely enjoying that one and what it’s saying about storytelling. I’m still about a third of the way through Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

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books

2016 Read Harder Challenge

It’s down to the wire and I really have to get it together in the next month to accomplish this challenge.

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge:

✔ Read a horror book: Uzumaki, Vol. 1 by Junji Ito.

✔ Read a nonfiction book about science: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Read a collection of essays.

✔ Read a book out loud to someone else.

✔ Read a middle grade novel: I’ve read lots. But The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket for the first time was a treat.

✔ Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography): Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik.

✔ Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel: Sweet Tooth, Volume 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire – I’m on Vol. 3.

✔ Read a book originally published in the decade you were born: The Giver by Lois Lowry.

✔ Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award: Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

✔ Read a book over 500 pages long: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.

✔ Read a book under 100 pages: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie… another great one that’s fiction: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami.

✔ Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: George by Alex Gino.

✔ Read a book that is set in the Middle East: Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkeyby Ozgë Samanci.

Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: I was going to read The Sympathizer but it will take forever to get to me from the library, so I will probably read The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Singaporean author Sonny Liew.

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900: Still debating what to do for this one. I thought I’d do Burial Rites by Hanna Kent or Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, but we’ll see.

✔ Read the first book in a series by a person of color: March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. I’m on book 3 and still rating them five stars.

✔ Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years: Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsch and Yuko Ota.

✔ Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie.
Debate which is better.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I think I decided I liked the book better, but the film was great.

✔ Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes: Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer.

Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction): Thinking of doing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

✔ Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction): America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert.

✔ Read a food memoir: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.

✔ Read a play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two

Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness: Going to do Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson on audiobook.