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TLT TURNS TEN: Ten Pieces of Media that are NOT Books to Check Out

I’m going to tell you something that may be surprising: I don’t JUST read all the time. It certainly seems, sometimes, like I do. I have always been a voracious reader for a couple of reasons. One, I love books. Period. I love them. And two, I love to use books to pull me out of real life and distract me. So, while I’ve been on leave from work this past year and also coaching my teen through his first year of high school and also just trying to SURVIVE all the everything, I’ve read more than ever.

But I do other things than read. I mean, I obviously do lots of other things than read, but most of it is boring. However, consuming media in other forms is not. I listen to a ton of podcasts (because I like them, I like learning, and also I cannot handle silence because my anxiety brain tries to eat itself in the quiet), and I watch a small handful of shows (usually over and over—another anxiety trick). I figure if I input enough stuff into my brain, I’ll drown out all the noise. That’s how it works, right?

Here are a few of my favorite media things. Check them out, if you’re not already a fan!

Podcasts

Depresh Mode

Conversations about mental health hosted by one of my favorite radio people. I adored John’s previous podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression (and the book, and Wits, and on and on). This drops on Mondays and in my head I always think, “Oooh, Depresh Mode Monday!” which means I get to listen to the new episode at the gym, which helps make me go to the gym.

Terrible, Thanks for Asking

What, am I only going to recommend podcasts made my Minnesotans? Maybe.


Terrible, Thanks for Asking leaves me laughing and crying almost every episode. Tackles all the hard junk in life that happens to so many of us—loss, grief, disappointment, and how to pick yourself up again and plow forward after experiencing such hard things.

It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders

Sam Sanders does weekly wrap-ups of newsworthy events, has lots of really smart guests on to talk about topical things, and just brings so much humor and heart to his show.

Code Switch

Essential listening. Conversations about race and racism in all aspects of society. I can’t tell you how many other podcasts or books or songs or documentaries I’ve sought out because of this podcast. Sometimes I even listen to an episode twice to really absorb what I’m learning.

Judge John Hodgman

Low-stakes (as in mostly silly but always interesting) cases are brought before Judge John Hodgman and he decides the outcome. This is a podcast that I also always listen to at the gym (like Depresh Mode Mondays, I have JJHO Wednesdays) and figure I look like a real goofball as I grin to myself over the litigants and their always-entertaining cases.

TV SHOWS

Dark (Netflix)

Literally the best show I have ever watched. This is a German show and if you are able to read subtitles, I recommended you play the show in German and read along. The dubbed version wasn’t working for us. This absolutely brilliant show about time travel is extremely complex. The first time through, Matthew and I had to stop a million times to untangle what we understood to be happening. It is SO well done and perfectly crafted. I marvel at the amazing storytelling. WATCH THIS SHOW.

The Repair Shop (Netflix)

I’ll be honest, the pitch of “people repair some old things” didn’t really grab my interest, but a few of my closest friends were super into this, so I gave it a try. And became obsessed. Do you like cozy things? This is cozy. These charming British artisans, who are absolutely masters in their fields, repair well-loved items. It’s fascinating to watch them work and rather mind-boggling what they can do.

The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix)

I am a lifelong BSC superfan. This new series is so great. It’s so comforting to watch this stories I know so well and see them given a modern update. I cried multiple times on my first viewing. I’ve now watched the series three times (which my teenage son makes fun of me about, but whatever, he’s watched many of the episodes with me). Love these girls, their friendship, and their lasting appeal.

What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu)

Three vampires who’ve been together hundreds of years, an energy vampire, and a vampire assistant (oh, poor Guillermo) live together in modern-day New York. I am an easy one to make cry (I mean, obviously, I’ve mentioned it like thirty times already) but hard to make laugh. We often have to pause this show because we’re laughing too hard. Super weird and super hilarious.

Living Single (Hulu)

Loved this series when it first ran and recently rewatched the whole thing. Such great actors, great writing, and great humor. Unlike Friends, which I also loved, this actually holds up well all these years later. And did you know that the fabulous Erika Alexander has a podcast, too? It’s called Reparations: The Big Payback. Check it out!

Book Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Publisher’s description

radioFrom critically acclaimed author Alice Oseman comes a smartly crafted contemporary YA novel, perfect for readers who love Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. This is an utterly captivating and authentic new teen novel from the author of Solitaire, which VOYA said “could put her among the great young adult fiction authors.”

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.

Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.

You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.

They don’t. They make a podcast.

In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I’ll be honest: it took me a while to get into this story. I spent a few days picking it up and finding my mind wandering, so putting it down and working on something else instead. BUT, once I got roped in, I got ROPED IN. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a mystery, but it has elements of a mystery, and that’s what propelled me forward.

 

The summary up there doesn’t do the best job of making this sound appealing (although, yes please to more books about main character best friends who seem like they might fall in love but don’t, and yes please to stories about podcasts). It’s not just that Aled and Frances make a podcast together (think Welcome to Night Vale)—it’s that they make a VERY popular podcast, with a large fandom, and, as creators, stay shrouded in mystery for a long time. The premise of their podcast (which Aled starts and Frances joins eventually) is a student is sending out SOS messages from a futuristic university that they’re trapped inside of. The student goes by Radio Silence and is agender. The podcast grows in popularity, but when word gets out who is behind it, things really begin to fall apart quickly. Aled and Frances have an argument and drift apart (or rather, Aled bails on Frances and refuses to answer her calls etc). It becomes clear that something very troublesome is going on with Aled, and while Frances desperately wants to do SOMETHING to help him, she doesn’t know what to do. Until she does.

 

The small ensemble of characters feature a diversity of sexual identities, including gay, bi, lesbian, and demisexual. Frances is white and Ethiopian, Daniel is Korean, and Raine is Indian. There is also a lot of room for choices, or for rethinking choices, regarding what to do after school ends—namely, there are more options than just going to university and more options than just doing the thing you thought you were supposed to work toward. The story is about the podcast, but it’s also not. It’s about people desperately in need of friends. It’s about identities, desires, plans, expectations, and feeling lost. Frances and friends will easily appeal to teen readers who are also grappling with all these same feelings. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062335715

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 03/28/2017