O captain, my captain!

My mother has always cried when a celebrity she liked died, and I always thought it was sort of silly to cry over someone you don’t actually know. (Except when George Harrison died. And even then, her weeks of mourning seemed like overkill.)
But the death of Robin Williams hit me really, really hard yesterday.

Someone wrote that he was a father figure to our generation, and I said “yes” out loud when I read that. I grew up watching Robin Williams. Sometimes he was manic. Sometimes he was calm. Sometimes he was animated. Sometimes he was inspiring. That one time he was a she.

As I read others’ words on his life and his passing, I took an inventory of his roles that meant the most to me personally. I remembered when he made me laugh as the genie in Aladdin, as Mrs. Doubtfire, as Batty in Ferngully. I remembered watching Good Morning Vietnam and his stand-up with my dad, who beamed when I said he reminded me of him. I remembered loving him as a full grown Peter Pan. I remembered Good Will Hunting and how good he was at delivering words of wisdom.

My sister updated her Facebook status to “O captain, my captain,” and I just lost it.

I’ve long attributed my optimism and hope to movies and books, and I think I will always have a deeply rooted affection for any piece of fiction that contributed to that cause when I needed it the most. Dead Poets Society was one of those movies for me. I watched it I don’t even know how many times in the midst of the worst of it with my parents. And I let Mr. Keating’s words sink in and resonate.

I didn’t actually know Robin Williams, but I feel like I did. And I find it ironic that someone who brought so much joy to so many suffered from depression. It breaks my heart into pieces to think that he was ever sad or felt alone. It goes to show that we never really know what is going on inside the minds and lives of others. All we can do is hope that if nothing else, he knew on some level how beloved he truly was.

So beloved that a twenty-something who rolls her eyes when others cry over the death of celebrities, who acknowledges that feeling so inconsolably and inexplicably sad because she didn’t even actually know him, was rendered a weeping mess over his passing.

No, Mr. Williams. Thank you.

Beach Reads

One of my favorite parts of planning for a vacation has always been carefully selecting which books to read. In fact, when I look back on past trips, my affection for the books I read is intertwined with happy memories of the trip itself.

I spent the past week visiting the Outer Banks with my husband’s family and hoped to read six books while I was there, but only managed these four:

From the publisher: Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
I’ve been reading glowing reviews for this book for months, but hesitated to pick it up because frankly, it’s not the kind of book I typically enjoy. But I was wrong. It was a really fun read and hard to put down. In fact, I found myself feeling a bit giddy when everyone decided to go for a swim or partake in an activity that I could excuse myself from to bask in the materialism and overall luxuriousness described in this book.

From the publisher: An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.

Just look at that title. What better book to bring on a beach vacation, am I right? Well, I was kind of right. The Vacationers was another book that I’ve read glowing reviews for that I thought was just kind of okay. Mostly I found myself wanting to visit Spain again and glad that my husband’s family is not as dramatic as the Post family. Because really, what is better to read while on vacation with family than something that makes you glad that the people you’re with are better than the ones you’re reading about? For that alone, I should send Emma Straub a thank you card.

In sum, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You is the story of a man who engages in a seven month affair and tries to fall back in love with his wife (and make her fall back in love with him) after his mistress ends the affair to marry another man.

This book was compared to Where’d You Go Bernadette, which I loved so so much, and was recommended as a perfect beach read, so I decided to give it a go. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. I honestly thought the protagonist, Richard, was kind of a tool and I find it hard to thoroughly enjoy books that are told from the perspective of a character I don’t like. I do agree that it was a pretty perfect beach read though, so there’s that.

 

From the publisher: This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.  Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 

Now this, THIS is my kind of book. I’m a sucker for any type of love story and really enjoy reading about time travel. I ADORED My Name is Memory, so I was really excited for The Here and Now, despite the not-so-glowing reviews. And I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, the plot had a few holes, and I probably should have expected the ending because (spoiler alert) Ann Brashares seems to be really opposed to happy endings, but overall I found myself captivated by this book. So much so that I read it all in one sitting. I’m really looking forward to the film adaptation of it (and really hoping for a sequel.)

Happy beach reading!

Summer Podcast Playlist

via

I tend to associate summer with going on vacation, and that means spending some time in transit. And I associate time in transit with time to listen to podcasts. So, whether you’re driving, flying, or just want something to distract if you’re traveling with family, here is my ideal summer podcast playlist:

  1. This American Life: Hit the Road
    The perfect inspiration for a trip is a story about other people going on trips. Or in this case, three stories.
  2. Judge John Hodgman: “Die Flederhaus” (or as it’s affectionately known, “Bats”)
    This podcast regularly makes me think a lot harder than I expect to and suprises me with its depth. But this is not one of those episodes. This episode is just plain HILARIOUS. Two brothers purchase a dilapidated house in Kansas that is infested with bats. Both acknowledge that the bats should be removed, but they are short on funds to pay an exterminator and can’t agree on a preferred alternate method. I have listened to this episode three times and still haven’t heard all of it because of how hard I’m laughing.
  3. This American Life: Day at the Beach
    David Sedaris is known for his ability to make hilarious anecdotes out of mundane experiences. But this is not one of those stories. This is the story of the annual beach vacations his family took when he was a child, and how his sister’s suicide brought the remaining members of his family back to the beach once more.
  4. This American Life: Accidental Deception
    This, however, is a funny David Sedaris story about a time he took the metro in Paris and was mistaken for a Parisian by a Texan. Hilarity ensues.
  5. How Did This Get Made?: Sleepaway Camp
    I am an enormous fan of movies so bad they are amazing. (The recent popularity of Sharknado 2 leads me to believe I’m not alone.) So when I found out there was a podcast about such films, I was ecstatic. How Did This Get Made? is one of my favorite podcasts, and this is probably my favorite episode. I highly recommend that you watch Sleepaway Camp before listening (maybe while on vacation and save this for your trip home?), but it’s an enjoyable listen even if you don’t.
  6. TED Talks: You Are Always Changing
    This is a really interesting lecture on how we change a lot more than we expect to throughout our lives. The effect is surprisingly freeing.
  7. StoryCorps: Annie
    I love love stories and this sweet tearjerker has stayed with me since I first heard it.
  8. Welcome to Night Vale: A Story About You
    I love Welcome to Night Vale, and this is possibly my favorite episode. Probably because it’s a story about me.
  9. The Moth: A New Map of the World
    This is a hilarious story on the perils of confessing too much to a crush.
  10. Radiolab: “Bliss”
    It’s kind of impossible to be in a bad mood after you listen to this. “On day 86 of a 3-month trek to and from the South Pole, adventurer Aleksander Gamme discovered something he’d stashed under the ice at the start of his trip.” This is proof that sometimes, it really is all about the simple things. There’s a video too.

Happy listening and happy summer travels!

Quote

AfterEllen on Pretty Little Liars

Aria’s rookie day at Radley goes about as well as you’d expect. The first thing she does is practically confess to killing Shana when Eddie Lamb reads her name off her name tag. All he says is “Aria” and she’s like, “Who, me? No, not me. I mean, yes, my name is Aria, but not like Aria Montgomery as in the Aria Montgomery who pistol whipped the dead girl they found in the New York theater owned by the former literature professor at Rosewood High with whom I — or, rather, my doppelganger has been seen snogging around town in the rain. Nice to meet you?” He says she looks familiar, probably because Spencer talked about her so much, but she insists that she is familiar to no one, least of all Shana Fring. “That girl whose funeral had more than six million views on YouTube?” “That’s the one.”

I love these recaps so much.

Link Love

Here are my favorite things I found around the internet this week:

  • Unless you were hanging out under a rock yesterday, you are probably aware that the much anticipated trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey made its debut:
  • Entertainment Weekly had a fun article comparing the trailer to the book. Not gonna lie, my interest is piqued.
  • Ira Glass discussed how he works in an article on Lifehacker. I really liked this bit:

    Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?

    I’d just say to aspiring journalists or writers—who I meet a lot of—do it now. Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.

  • A friend shared this article about book hoarding and I found it really relateable and interesting.
  • NPR had an interesting piece on the increasing profitability of self-publishing.
  • Why readers, scientifically, are the best people to fall in love with.
  • I really liked this BookRiot article on “How Reading Out Loud Almost Saved My Marriage.” I love reading to people and being read to. It’s probably part of why I loved Fangirl so much.
  • This week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast features a really interesting conversation about geography (specifically the middle of the continental U.S.) and a few of my favorite authors.
  • The Rumpus featured an interesting take on the romance fiction genre & feminism.

Happy perusing and happy weekend!