Books

Serial Withdrawals

by Lindsey

It’s been months since Serial season one ended, and I’m still not over it. I realize the world probably doesn’t need another post about this blockbuster podcast…but that’s never stopped me before, friends. So, let’s talk about some suggestions for how to fill the void it’s left behind.

I’ve been a fan of true crime for a long time. That sounds creepy, and I promise I’m a generally pleasant, very non-violent person. Basically, I’m not a fan of crime itself. That’d be (literally) insane. However, if crimes happen – which they have/do/will – I like reading the stories about the mysterious incidents, people gone bad and even the trials that follow. I don’t mean to trivialize it. For me, crime writing is like a glimpse into a world I hope I never visit and minds I cannot understand.

If you, like me, are still a little sad when another Thursday comes around without additional layers of case detail, then this post is for you. I’ve complied a list of a few podcasts, articles and books that might entertain and/or horrify you. Maybe you’ll be inspired to become a detective. Maybe you’ll want to hide in your house and never leave. I waffle between the two. Mmmmm…waffles.

Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde from This American Life

Dr. Gilmer and Mr. HydeThis American Life

This is the particular podcast that made me a fan of both Sarah Koenig AND This American Life. It’s a heartbreaking and compelling story that includes a murder, a medical mystery, and overall great reporting. Start here.

The Psychopath TestThis American Life

I told you I was a fan of This American Life. This one is more light-hearted than it sounds, and it’s truly eye-opening, especially in regards to the prison system.

Animal InstinctsCriminal

It’s been suggested that I should check out the movie The Staircase about Kathleen Peterson’s murder. Since it’s not streaming, I listened to this short, alternative theory about the Michael Peterson case.

Serial Killer Archive – Longform.org

I love longform journalism, so I love Longform.org. Browse through their archives, and you’ll never be bored.

Crime Archive – Longform.org

See above, please.

Zodiac – Director David Fincher

It’s David Fincher, so you know the movie looks good. It will also creep you out and make you want to read everything you can about the Zodiac murders. Bonus: Jake Gyllenhaal!

Devil in the White City – Erik Larson

Did you know the Chicago World’s Fair housed a serial killer? Well, it totally did, and here’s the story. Plus, it goes into great detail about all the effort it took to make the Chicago World’s Fair happen. Fascinating stuff all around.

The Psychopath Test – Jon Ronson

If the This American Life episode wasn’t enough, check out Jon Ronson’s book. He actually contributed one of the stories from his book to the podcast. I always find him funny in the typical dry, British way.

The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule

Ted Bundy, man. I don’t like to throw around the word psychopath/sociopath, but if anyone was – it’s him. Ann Rule tackled this story like a woman who knew him at his best, most charming self…because she did. Watch her ideas about him change over the course of the book.

Bonus NOT True Crime Shows: If you want the mystery without reality, stream one of these!

True Detective – HBO

True Detective is trippy, deep, and well-acted. Modeled like Serial‘s a-different-story-each-season, I can’t wait to see where they go with season two.

Luther – BBC America/Netflix

If you missed Luther on my former post about British mysteries, you may want to go check out that list, too. For now, I’ll just say two words: Idris Elba. Oh, and Alice Morgan (played amazingly smart/creepy by Ruth Wilson) is a great character to watch.

The Wire – HBO/Amazon Prime

I just finished season one, and I’m totally hooked. I’ve heard so many people say that this is their favorite show of all time that I had to give it a try. You should, too. (Also: Idris Elba.)

Pretty Little Liars – ABC Family/Netflix

Okay. Please stop laughing. My cousin and her husband were telling me over Christmas how much they loved this show, and I laughed. Honestly, I think it’s the name. Good show, dumb name. It’s the most brain-candy piece of media on this list, yes, but it is a show that will suck you in big time. Who is “A,” people?!

Anything you’d add to the list, readers?

 

 

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Favorite Books on Art

by Lindsey

unnamedIf you know me, you know my love of art is deep and boundless. I can spend hours in a museum. I studied arts administration in grad school (because of aforementioned museum interest). I am fascinated by copyright law and appropriation and controversy. I get really fired up when people don’t like a piece simply because, “I could have done that.” [Insert angry eye roll here.]

What most people don’t know is that I didn’t major in art history at any point. My graduate degree was largely about nonprofit management (with an arts focus, but still). All that to say: I really don’t know that much about art. However, though love of something doesn’t necessarily equal knowledge about something, it typically translates into a desire to know more. Thus, I am an avid reader of books about art/artists/museums/your mom. (Just threw that last one in there to see if you were paying attention.)

Here are my favorites for all you art history or should-have-been-art-history-majors out there:

The $12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark     (Thompson)

This book offers an exciting look at art economics (artonomics?). Seriously. Why are you laughing? If you’ve ever wondered how, as the cover depicts, a stuffed shark might fetch $12 million, this is the book for you. It covers auctions, dealers, critics, museums, specific artists/sales, and so much more. One of my favorite sections is about how color relates to price/desire.

Seven Days in the Art World     (Thornton)

This title is pretty self-explanatory. Thornton dives head first into seven of the art world’s most well-known arenas, beginning with “The Auction” and ending with “The Biennale.” She offers a wide view of the art world at a specific span of time (the late 2000s) by running its bases for the reader’s benefit.

Lives of the Artists: Portraits of Ten Artists Whose Work and Lifestyles Embody the Future of Contemporary Art     (Tomkins)

Lives of the Artists seems like one of those books you might be assigned in grad school (in a good way). If you can’t tell from my list and a conspiculous lack of Renaissance and ancient art texts, I’m a modern/contemporary art fan. On top of that, I’m fascinated by how artists work, so vignettes into their lives really works for me.

The Rescue Artist     (Dolnick)

Art and crime are two of my favorite subjects. Add them together, and I am a happy, happy girl. Well, I mean, I don’t like crime, per se, but I like reading about crime. Do I wish the Scream had never been stolen? Yes. Do I want to read about it since it was stolen, as this book accounts? YES.

The Participatory Museum     (Simon)

 So, technically this is a book more about museums and less about art/artists…but this is my list, and I’ll put what I want on it.  If you want to get into my niche fascinations with the art/museum world, you’d land squarely into the museums as third places/participatory art experiences/audience cultivation and contribution, etc. So, when I found this book, I fell instantly in love. Nina Simon is my real life, present day hero.  (You should also check out her blog, and feel free to pass along job openings you find at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.)

On my nightstand:

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures     (Wittman)

 This book is in my purse right now, just waiting for lunchtime to roll around. I miss Serial and I need some intrigue in my cultural consumption.

33 Artists in 3 Acts     (Thornton)

Sarah Thornton’s follow up to the aforementioned Seven Days in the Art World gets an automatic spot on my reading list.

What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art     (Gompertz)

The description alone was enough for me to bite: “Every year, millions of museum and gallery visitors ponder the modern art on display and secretly ask themselves, ‘Is this art?’ A former director at London’s Tate Gallery and now the BBC arts editor, Will Gompertz made it his mission to bring modern art’s exciting history alive for everyone, explaining why an unmade bed or a pickled shark can be art—and why a five-year-old couldn’t really do it.” Yes, let’s all learn how a five-year-old really couldn’t do it, folks. Really, really. REALLY.

Happy reading, folks.

Author’s note: I sourced links from Amazon, but, if you want to buy independent, allow me to recommend Parnassus Books.

Lazy Sunday Links

– by Lindsey and Kelsey

Instead of a straight up link list today, we thought we’d share a couple of things off our reading lists. I was born first, so I’ll kick things off…


Lindsey’s Picks

My most recent read was Fifty Shades of Gray, which I found to be poorly written and repetitive. If I had to read another sentence with “hitching” breath, boring attempts at plot, or the word mercurial, I think I might throw my Kindle out the window. Hopefully the two titles below will give my brain some much needed nourishment.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

A fan of This American Life, I’ve heard Jon Ronson‘s lilting, soothing, very British voice a couple of times. The episode that prompted my purchase of this book, also called The Psychopath Test, featured Jon’s story about (possible psychopath?) CEO Al Dunlap. His discussion prompts questions about the correlation between success and psychopathy. I can’t wait to dig into more of his research about the actual test that, by some accounts, has been taken to the extreme. (Bonus: If you prefer the visual, Ronson’s TED Talk is pretty great, too.)

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

I first came to know Roxane Gay through her excellent Twitter feed. Anyone who live tweets Ina Garten is okay in my book, you know? Anyway, her latest book has come to my attention through countless media outlets. Seriously. Google her, and you’ll find all sorts of positive press. What got me to buy the book, though, are the snippets I’ve read, like “How to be Friends with Another Woman” and her manifesto on bad feminism. I have a feeling I’m going to relate, possibly because her book arrived the same day my order of Brazil Butt Lift (don’t ask) came in the mail. Baby steps, right?


Kelsey’s Picks

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

This book is only one in a pantheon of books by the Nicholas Sparks of food writing: Michael Pollan. (This is a reference to quantity, not quality, Michael. No hate.) In a last desperate effort to cut down on my Cap’n Crunch consumption, this kitten is one of the next titles on my to-read list. The proclaimed manifesto of this book: “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” In a demoralizing era of diets and fads and GMOs, Michael advocates for a simpler and significantly more satisfying relationship to food.

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

There is nary a book recommendation list that I’ve seen this summer without All the Light We Cannot See. And at 4 1/2 stars on Amazon with over 1500 reviews, I’m beginning to understand why. From The New Yorker

“The dual protagonists of this gripping novel, set during the Second World War, are the blind daughter of a Parisian locksmith who builds an intricate model of the streets to help her navigate her world and a German orphan whose uncanny aptitude for mechanics makes him valuable to the Nazi war effort…As the strands of the plot converge, the book becomes a meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.”

I’m all in.

This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel by  Jonathan Tropper

My goal is to read this novel before the movie (of the same title) is released this fall (September 19th), starring standouts Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, and Adam Driver. The four Foxman siblings return home after the death of their father, forced to spend seven days in the same household. I normally don’t enjoy reading/watching (what I’m anticipating will be) a show of dysfunctional degeneration, but I’m excited about this one.


What are you reading, friends? Let us know in the comments, if you’re so inclined.

Good Reads: An Ode to Graphic Novels

By Kelsey

I used to regard graphic novels similarly to how I regard Pokemon. Not interested. (But adolescent boys/girls are wayyyy into those little guys.)

That is no longer the case. It was only my (incorrect) assumption that graphic novels are for children. Most of these volumes contain tough, mature content, so I would highly recommend these for an adult audience only.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale.

It all started with this book. Bear in mind that I still haven’t finished this novel, but it’s one that I like to mull over from time to time, instead of devouring in a few days. This became the first graphic novel (by Art Spiegelman) to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. It details the author’s interviews with his aging father regarding the family’s struggle for survival during the Holocaust, where they lived in Poland during WWII. To describe the illustrative approach of the novel, Jews are depicted as mice, while the Nazis are portrayed as cats (non-Jewish Poles are sketched as pigs).

Maus is a novel executed with grace. This book will make your heart hurt.

Blue is the Warmest Color

You may be familiar with this title due to the buzz surrounding the film of the same namesake. Please, please, read this book, and ignore the movie that alters the storyline/ending, largely pandering to cheap shock value throughout. This novel is a typical “coming of age” story, albeit one dealing with the additional hardship of struggling with one’s sexuality and the resulting reception by family/friends. Above all, it is a love story. This book is gorgeously illustrated and thoughtfully crafted.

Watchmen

I won’t go into detail here, but this cult classic is next on my to-read graphic novel list. (Lindsey says it’s pretty great.)

Through the Woods

The only thing better than a graphic novel is A SCARY graphic novel. This one is still on my Amazon Wishlist, but one of the short horror stories in Into the Woods is featured on author Emily Carroll’s website: His Face All Red. This is going to give me nightmares tonight, and I don’t even care. Worth it.

Honorable Mentions

I have not read The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes or Persepolis, but they both come very highly acclaimed.

I love the rich mixture of written word and often meticulously detailed illustrations on each page. It is a new experience,  absorbing both mediums simultaneously. Get to reading, friends.