My 2019 Reading List

These are a list of books I have every intention of reading in 2019. I’m only including books that I already own, since I’m not allowed to buy media this year (that’s why libraries exist, y’all). Here’s what on the docket!

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’m listening to this one, because I want Michelle’s amazing voice to soothe all of my ills.
  2. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper. I’m listening to this on Audible right now and loving it. Ellie is so sweet and super funny.
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. I started this about a month ago but had to put it off until school was over so I could truly enjoy it.
  4. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay. I read most of this book in the spring but never got around to finishing it. Some of the essays can be extremely challenging to get through. The writers bare their souls.
  5. Shrill by Lindy West. Discovered Lindy way late, on Dear Prudence, and have been obsessed with her ever since.
  6. Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd. Pattie has the up-close-and-personal deets about Harrison and Clapton
  7. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Been meaning to read this one for ages.
  8. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I started this earlier this year but it got sacrificed to the grad school gods. As soon as I’m finished I’m watching the film.
  9. Live from New York. The SNL book! Been dying to read this ever since it came out.
  10. Waiting for the Punch by Marc Maron. This is a collection of all the wisdom he gained doing his interview podcast WTF with Marc Maron. He basically invented podcasts, and he’s had some of the most incredible guests—Barack Obama say whaaaat?
  11. Bitch Doctrine by Laurie Penny. I discovered Laurie on Dear Prudence and immediately started following her on Twitter. She’s a savage, and I love her.
  12. Unladylike by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin. The former ladies of Stuff Mom Never Told You wrote a book!
  13. Hard Choices and What Happened by Hillary Clinton. Because of course I am.
  14. In Intimate Detail by Cora Harrington. Remember the thin privilege Twitter thread this summer? That was by Cora, who is a lingerie writer at The Lingerie Addict. I know literally nothing about lingerie, but I’m a grown-ass woman and it’s about time I did.
  15. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Started this one years ago and never finished. I am such a distracted reader!
  16. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I am a Handmaid’s Tale stan (both the book and the show), so I can’t wait to read more Atwood!
  17. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes. JB is one of my favorite short story writers, so I’m pumped to read his novel.
  18. How to Rent a Negro by Damali Ayo. This was on the syllabus for my American Racial Satire class, but I fell behind and never got a chance to read it.
  19. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I KNOW. It’s insane I haven’t read this already. Don’t come for me. Not every avid reader can read every damn classic.
  20. Erasure by Percival Everett. I Am Not Sidney Poitier is one of my favorite books of all time and apparently this one is even wilder.
  21. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Another classic I should have already read.
  22. Every Day by David Levithan, because who doesn’t need a YA break every once in a while?
  23. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock. For obvious reasons.
  24. The Merry Spinster by Daniel Mallory Ortberg. For obvious reasons.
  25. The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier. Love a good biography, and I find SP so inspiring.
  26. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve read at least 60% of this book like three times, but always end up not finishing it for some reason! Here’s to a better 2019.
  27. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Same as Housekeeping.
  28. Swing Time by Zadie Smith. Bought this while I was in England. Zadie is bae.
  29. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Heard such good things about this one!
  30. All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey. To be fair, I’m a good chunk of the way through this one on Audible, but I do plan to finish it soon.
  31. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This is another one I read most of in high school, but I bought it on Audible narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal, so I plan to listen to it on my work commute.
  32. Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman. I am obsessed with Jaya, and who doesn’t want to read a book about summoning success, banishing drama, and raising hell?
  33. MAUS I II by Art Spiegelman. Because I was supposed to read them for class (oops!), and because I want to challenge myself to actually read a graphic novel.
  34. So Close to Being the Shit, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta. Audible, and Retta is my favorite.
  35. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. Audible. When Michelle McNamara died, Julie Klausner re-aired an interview with her and she was such a brilliant mind.
  36. This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps. Audible. Busy is the best, from Kim Kelly to Busy Tonight.
  37. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle. Monty Python is my favorite ever.

I hope to read more than this in 2019, but clearly, I have a great year of reading ahead of me!

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It’s a 12-Month Wrap-Up!

Rap- rap- wrap-up!

2017 is over and frankly, BYE GIRL. What a rough year. I went from severe election depression, to a Mexican vacation, to not knowing WTF I was doing with my life, to going to grad school. The transition was rough, but not just for me. This year has also, obviously, been an actual trash-fire for the entire country.

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But apart from praying for mercy from our overlords, there were a few enjoyable things about 2017. I went to Cancún and Atlanta for the first time, and got to spend two weeks in L.A., which I proudly yet undeservedly consider my homeland. I dove even deeper into my comedy obsession, and turned it into a final paper on feminism and comedy writing (in which I got to use the quotation “Men are a cancer! God made a mistake!“). I binged so much TV that it should be considered a crime against (my own) humanity. I started therapy and got back on meds. Actually, if it weren’t for the backdrop of constant nuclear panic, 2017 might have even been a good year.

Luckily, even in the darkest timeline, artists gonna art, so there was a barrage of dope shit released this year. Here are the things that really stood out in my 2017:

Roxane Gay, Hunger

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image from the chicago tribune review

Literally everything Roxane Gay has ever written is perfect, so it was a no-brainer that this incredible book would be on my “Best Of” list. This book is so powerful and emotional; I cried reading it. Hunger is, genuinely, a memoir of her body—unlike so many other books written in a similar vein, this one has no self-help aims or “happy ending.” It is a raw, honest rendering of past and present traumas, and though Ms. Gay’s journey is unique to her, her writing speaks to the universal truths familiar to all those who inhabit bodies and navigate the world. For six months, the words of Hunger have stayed with me, like a haunting presence.

Hillary Clinton, What Happened

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image via slate

I haven’t finished this book yet, so no spoilers! (lol)

Part of me loves this book so much merely because I love Secretary Clinton and want to push back against the haters that think, for some reason, that it’s unacceptable that the first female presidential candidate of a major political party should write a book chronicling her experiences. I know this about myself. What I didn’t expect, upon beginning to listen (I’m checking out Audible this season), is how deeply First Lady Clinton’s words would affect me. She gets pretty real about her journey, and doesn’t shy away from being honest about the present danger in which America finds itself. But it’s never sad. In What Happened, hope eclipses sadness and darkness at every turn. It doesn’t hurt that Senator Clinton is funny as hell, either. Listening to What Happened is like inspiring meditation for all of us who were deeply hurt last November.

So, if Popular Vote Winner Rodham Clinton wants to hit me up for a glass of Chardonnay, just DM me @highwaytochel, bby.

Just realized I keep switching up her name! I guess she just has so many accomplishments that I’m not even sure what to call her!

Matt Bellassai, Everything is Awful 

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image via ew

This list was getting pretty heavy, so I had to turn up the levity to 11.

Matt Bellassai is a national treasure. I first heard of him on Throwing Shade, so I’m a bit of a late adopter, but as soon as I heard him on TSPod, I sought out his podcast Unhappy Hour, which led me to his book, which I scored, again, on Audible. I knew the book would be funny, but I didn’t think it would be laugh-out-loud-like-a-maniac-alone-in-my-car funny. The writing is so, so good. He has such a clear, distinct voice that it’s shocking he’s only my age. It’s so powerful, in fact, that I find myself relating on a deep level to a chubby, sheltered, Midwestern, gay, cis-male child, most of whose adjectives don’t describe me at all! I rarely advocate for audiobook over real book, but hearing Bellassai’s delivery is the icing on the cake.

Check out his popular Whine About It videos on Buzzfeed!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

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Amy Sherman-Palladino has blessed us once again! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which Jen Kirkman consulted on, nbd) is my favorite new show of the year! I’m not even that bitter about the fact that the lead actress, Rachel Brosnahan, is the same age as me!

The MMM tells the story of Midge, a 26-year-old mother of two in 1958, going through a separation following her husband, Joel’s, infidelity. Joel had been fervently pursuing a stand-up career (i.e. plagiarizing one), but it turns out that his wife is the real natural. Coached by Susie, played by the incomparable Alex Borstein, Midge begins to perform, to varying degrees of success. Oh, and Lenny Bruce is a character.

In true ASP fashion, the dialogue is fast-paced, joke dense, and sensational. If there had to be an heir to Gilmore Girls, this is indeed the one. I just watched the series but might start it over and force the huz to watch it with me. 10/10

Get Out

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Is Get Out the best movie I’ve ever seen? Strong possibility. Give Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya and Betty Gabriel all of the Oscars!

I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it would be that good. I only just watched Get Out this fall, since I am horror-averse to the extreme, but I already know it will be one of my life-long favorites. Unfortunately, to write pretty much anything about it would spoil the majesty, and for once, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I was shocked, despite waiting months to watch it, and I wouldn’t take that experience away from anyone.

Jordan Peele is a genius. The film is aesthetically gorgeous, socially aware, hilarious, and terrifying. It’s a horror film, and a comedy, and a documentary.

P.S. I had the unique privilege of writing one of my final papers about Get Out, which I’m submitting to conferences!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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If you didn’t like this movie, please eject yourself from planet Earth. I won’t spoil it for anyone (it was spoiled for me by my brother), but it was a joy and a pleasure. I gasped in surprise or glee multiple times, and I got to experience the entire thing sitting between my husband and my best friend—best combo ever. I’d write more about how much it rocked my world, but I’m busy going to see it again.

#FeelTheDern

Hallmark Christmas Movies

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I finally discovered the true, unadulterated joy that is Hallmark Christmas movies. I watched Christmas in the Air*, which only made me thirst for more**. These things are a bright spot in an increasingly dismal world. Plus, where else will you experience the true joy of a 49-year-old, childless female lead? Hallmark doesn’t even know that it’s feminist!

*I will say, specific to this film, that it espoused one trash value, which is that messiness and imperfection is acceptable. You should have let her clean your office, dude. You’re not a creative genius—you have untreated ADHD.

**There’s an upcoming one starring Candace Cameron Bure and Marilu Henner!

St. Vincent, Masseduction

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I. Love. St. Vincent. I finally got to see her in concert last month at the House of Blues! I’ve liked her for years, but I have to admit, when she started getting super high concept, starting with Strange Mercy and continuing even stronger with St. Vincent, I really became a superfan. Masseduction doesn’t disappoint for a second—it’s got killer visuals, tight tunes, and her sexiest sound yet. Go purchase this album with human currency!

Highlights: “Los Ageless,” “New York,” and “Pills.”

The National, Sleep Well Beast

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image via pitchfork

As if The National could put out a bad album. I’ve been waiting for what seems like decades for new Ntl jams, and finally, my prayers have been answered. Sleep Well Beast is everything I dreamed it would be and more. It has more tech-y, electronic-y moments (please, don’t be intimidated by my vast knowledge of music) than previous releases, but it works. Get on this album, my dudes.

Highlights, for me at least, are “Day I Die,” “I’ll Still Destroy You,” and “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.”

Taylor Swift, reputation

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image via billboard

I know. I’m going back on years of hating on T. Swift. I can admit I was wrong! In my hour of darkness she was standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, so let her be.

Reputation is bops for days. I adore it. I’ve listened to it more than the previous 2 albums combined, which severely deducts cool points from my street cred. But I don’t care. I even like “Look What You Made Me Do” which was pretty much universally panned. Highlights are, for sure, “Endgame (feat. Future & Ed Sheeran),” “Ready For It,” and “I Did Something Bad,” but basically every song is great so just go listen to it? T. Swift redeemed.

Put Your Hands Together

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image via twitter

Guys, I got to actually go to PYHT in Hollywood! It was probably the craziest night of my entire life—maybe I’ll share the story someday—but it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The whole drama is recorded on the podcast, so if you’re a listener, you may know what I’m referring to. It was definitely a…teachable moment.

Cam & Rhea, thanks for being the moms we all need, and being genuinely the warmest and best people I’ve ever met.

Oui Fresh Beauty

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image via a beautiful mess

My ABM ladies started a natural beauty line! Lipstick, lip gloss, and essential oils, oh my! I am obsessed with clean beauty products (#backonmyhippiebullshit), so these gems were a total godsend. I took advantage of all of the launch and holiday sales, so I, of course, have the full lip collection. They go on smooth, hydrate, last, and bonus: the lip gloss smells like yummy vanilla!

The lipsticks and lip glosses all have ’90s namesakes like Blossom, Kapowski, Pink Ranger, and As If! They even have a natural beauty subscription box, à la Birchbox, which flies off the virtual shelves every month. I subscribed in December, and got an amazing box of goodies! 10/10 would recommend!

 

 

 

Pod-Party Part Trois!

It’s becoming deeply apparent that all I care about is podcasts. Free entertainment constantly at my fingertips? I’m a comedy junkie/nerd, so podcasts are an amazing way to get my fix without parking myself in front of the TV. I feel like I’m never not learning!

2 Dope Queens

2dq_1400x1400_nownycstudios_22 Dope Queens is tied with I Seem Fun for my absolute favorite podcast currently in existence. Hosted by Phoebe Robinson & Jessica Williams (of Daily Show fame), 2 Dope Queens is a stand-up showcase framed by Pheebs and Jessica’s banter. This podcast makes me laugh out loud while I’m alone. I’m sure other drivers on the road think I’m demented. I admire Phoebe & Jessica so much for the amazing successes they’ve had in their careers at such young ages (Jessica isn’t even 30 yet, y’all!) They are hilarious, badass women and they drink rosé out of champagne flutes that say “White Male Tears”. #stayhydrated 

I wish them many more seasons of success! I’ve discovered some of my new favorite comedians on 2DQ, like Jo Firestone and Jordan Carlos, and gotten to bask in the glory of some that I’ve long loved, like Gabe Liedman and Jen Kirkman.

Sooo Many White Guys

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SMWG is Phoebe Robinson’s other podcast, which wrapped its first season this summer. The mission statement, I assume, was for Phoebe to host an interview podcast that *gasp* only had non-white-guy guests! Notable guests include Gina Rodriguez (the queen of my heart), Roxane Gay (my fucking idol), Constance Wu, and Ilana Glazer. Each episode runs between 30 & 40 minutes, so it’s a perfect commuter pod. The women are hilarious AF but don’t shy away from getting into deep discussions about race & gender. The last ep of the season featured Mike Birbiglia, amazing human and token white guy! This is a must-binge pod.

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I’ve been reading the Savage Love column since, well, since I was way too young to be reading the Savage Love column. It’s printed in a *free* local Boston Arts paper, The Dig, which I always grabbed to read on the T in my younger days when I actually spent time in the city. Dan Savage has been a better resource on sex than my high school sex ed class, my parents, Tumblr, and actual field experience combined. What makes the podcast deeply compelling, aside from his thoughtful advice, are the top-of-show political rants and his amazing guests, many of whom are sex workers or porn performers. Without the Savage Lovecast, I wouldn’t have even known about California’s Prop 60 (vote no, y’all!)

The Lovecast comes in 2 sizes, Micro (with ads) and Magnum (ad-free, with more content). I’ve been slumming it with the Micro, but I may be upgrading because I can’t get enough!

Follow Dan on social media @fakedansavage.

Slate’s Dear Prudence

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Dear Prudence is a podcast hosted by my most favorite internet person, Mallory Ortberg. Mallory and Nicole Cliffe ran The Toast for several years, and have cemented their places in an esoteric feminist niche that wholly appeals to me. Even though The Toast shuttered in July, it’s worth perusing their archives. Some of the best #content on the internet.

The PrudiePod gives me the weekly dose of Mallory that I’ve so sorely missed. Amazing guest hosts include her mother and sister, as well as the ever-amazing Carvell Wallace. Mallory’s top and bottom-of-the-show rants sustain me.

Follow Mallory on social media @mallelis, and buy her hysterical book Texts from Jane Eyre here.

The Nerdist

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The Nerdist podcast is an interview show, hosted by Chris Hardwick (@midnight, The Talking Dead). Apparently he’s been doing it for 6 years! There are literally hundreds of episodes, so I obviously haven’t listened to all of them, but I have (predictably) listened to Jen Kirkman, Emily V. Gordon, and Samantha Bee’s episodes.

I didn’t listen to this podcast at first because, frankly, the whole “Nerdist” culture never appealed to me. I also find it ridiculous that The Walking Dead has a companion show. It’s not a good show. I don’t watch it because I don’t need to watch gratuitous violence, but my husband has seen every episode, and at this point he’s hate-watching. Can’t wait until zombies fade out like vampires did two years ago.

BUT, rant aside, Hardwick is a great interviewer and solid comedian. His most recent special, Funcomfortable, was a joy from start to finish (and you guys know that I don’t even care about white male comics, so that’s high praise). I look forward to many more car-rides with this awesome pod!

The Wilder Podcast

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The Wilder Podcast is a brand-new podcast hosted by Karsyn Dupree of Wildernessa (formerly Blissbranch). I discovered Karsyn a few years ago via the Instagrams of the Dupree sisters (of Eisley fame). Her personal story (unrelated to all things Eisley) and unconventional life path are so inspiring! I’m really digging the music she and her husband, Collin, have been putting out, so I was excited when she announced that she was doing a podcast! With the exception of Sherri Dupree-Bemis, I hadn’t actually heard of any of her guests, but they’ve been super engaging. They range from health coaches, to motivational speakers, to podcasters and authors. I love tuning in every week to hear badass ladies doin’ for themselves!

Follow Karsyn on social media @wldrnessa & @karsynkdupree.

You Made It Weird

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You Made It Weird is another Nerdist podcast hosted by one of the best guys in the universe, Pete Holmes. Pete, affectionately referred to in my house as Petey, is one of my favorite comedians and all-around thinkers. I genuinely feel that he’s a modern-day philosopher. He is brilliant. We were robbed of his TBS late-night show after only one season, because the world is a dark and unjust cavern of misery.

YMIW is super-duper long, like 2+ hours long, so it’s definitely a plane-ride pod. Amazing guests include Reggie Watts (literally the messiah in my household), Bo Burnham, Aparna Nancherla, and John Mulaney.

Gilmore Guys

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To be fair, I haven’t listened to every episode of Gilmore Guys. There are a LOT of them. In fact, they just recorded the very last one, for s7e22 of the show. But Gilmore Girls is my favorite show, so anything devoted to it deserves at least a listen. The premise is that Kevin is a long-time fan and Demi has never seen an episode in his life. They’ve been watching an episode a week for the past 2 years and recording a show devoted to each episode. They’ve had tons of cast members (Liza Weil! Scott Patterson! Sean Gunn!) on the pod, and they’ve gained quite a following. They even guested on an ep of my favorite educational podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You. I can’t wait to go deep on this podcast on my next flight or long commute!

With Her

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And of course, I couldn’t NOT mention that Hillary Clinton has a podcast! Okay, it’s not hosted by Hillary (she ain’t got time for that!), but it’s about her and the campaign. I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to every episode, but the Bill Clinton one was marvelous. Bill could narrate the process of making toast and I’d listen. I such a rabid fan of Hillary Clinton, her policies, and her message. Voting for her with FERVOR tomorrow, and I suggest you all do the same. #yourprotestvoteisboring 

BONUS CONTENT (Can’t Get Enough)

I Seem Fun: The Diary of Jen Kirkman Podcast is currently semi-weekly! She has graced us with an additional half-hour of #content, called This Week Seemed Fun! It’s all the news stories that matter to Jen, and since I sometimes deeply feel like her millenial avatar, which I’m sure would horrify her, it’s all the news stories that matter to me. She’s been reading political articles at the end of her regular Tuesday show, so this is, to some degree, a continuation of that, except with aliens! Can’t wait for her Netflix special, Just Keep Livin’?, to premiere in early 2017!

So, what are you guys even doing with yourselves if you’re not listening to podcasts? Until next post, have fun!

**all images via the linked websites for each podcast