April is sunshine and rain and spring and everything coming together in the best of ways. What a wonderful and weird month it's been.
Read and Reading
If you love Jane Eyre or Gothic novels or well-written creative fiction...If you've ever wondered what Jane Eyre would have been like had she believed the people who told her she was wicked, Jane Steele (Faye) is the novel for you. It's not a retelling of Jane Eyre but the novel features prominently, as it is dear to our main character for the ways her life is similar to Jane Eyre and for the ways it is entirely different. To wit: it includes the line, "Reader, I murdered him." It is a DELIGHT! It kept me enthralled and guessing the whole way through.
The combination of Hindu mythology with Southern oral tradition gave The Opposite of Everyone's plot extra oomph. I was willing to go whatever direction Jackson took me and what an enjoyable ride it was.
When Breath Becomes Air (Kalanithi) is a wonderful addition to the end-of-life canon. I wish he would have delved into his palliative care team but that is one of the limitations of writing a book while dying. There is much more he could have explored and yet the material he did give us is rich, impressive, and necessary. What a gift he gave us.
As much as I've been marginalized in the evangelical Christian church, it pales in comparison to what LDS singles face, as illustrated in the memoir Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin. Still, I related to so much of Hardy's story. Well-written and thoughtful, I had a hard time putting it down. In the end, her marginalization and doubts about her faith led her to leave the church. I appreciated her honesty and her candor as she made that decision. It spoke so much to me.
The Enneagram of Parenting: The Nine Types of Children and How to Raise Them Successfully (Wagele) is a fantastic resource for anyone with children in their life, whether or not they're a parent. I'm glad the emphasis is on children containing qualities of a type, instead of typing children. Their personalities can change so much! Still, there's concrete information and practical applications that will be helpful.
Currently reading: The Complete Enneagram (Chestnut), The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), The Emotionally Healthy Church (Scazzero), Half of a Yellow Sun (Adichie), To Bless The Space Between Us (O'Donohue), How To Be Here (Bell), No One Knows (Ellison)
(I read 17 books this month.)
Must-see TV: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Real Housewives of New York, Southern Charm, I Am Cait, Once Upon A Time, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Outlander is back and I am thrilled! The costumes this season have been blowing me away. Every time Claire wears that voluminous silk bathrobe, I wish I owned it. Plus, Sam Heughan is as hot as ever.
It's no surprise I love all things Real Housewives but I was especially impressed by the first season of the Real Housewives of Potomac. There ended up being such interesting discussions about race and privilege and I'm not the only one who was impressed: just listen to this Pop Culture Happy Hour Small Batch episode with For Colored Nerds.
On March 31 I got to see Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins, and Anais Mitchell perform at Uptown Theater in Napa. It was as amazing as you think. Since then, I've had these songs on repeat:
Listen to the What I'm Into 2015 playlist.
West Wing fans, I hope you're listening to The West Wing Weekly podcast. I finished watching the show for the first time earlier this year so I wasn't sure I'd want to listen to this. But it is so fun hearing the hosts (including Josh Malina!) talk about all manner of behind-the-scenes info and they've had some great special guests.
I have become a big fan of W. Kamau Bell the last year or so. I loved his interview on Fresh Air and plan on tracking down his new show stat.
I giggled my way through listening to Sorta Awesome's episode 56: Unpopular Opinions Ahead!
David Whyte is one of my favorite poets so I was over the moon when he appeared on On Being With Krista Tippett. If you're not familiar with his work, start with The House of Belonging and thank me later.
Things I Love:
- My first time in Napa was a giant success. Laura and I drank great wine, ate amazing food, and got to experience a fantastic show. In the morning, we breakfasted at Grace's Table and I ordered the toasted baguette because I'm not much of a breakfast person. I'm still thinking about the rhubarb preserves that accompanied it.
- Plus, there was this view.
- Two of our best volunteers are moving across the country, which I did not love but it gave the co-director and I an excuse to take them out for pastries at b. patisserie, which is heavenly.
- I got to meet my internet pal Kenji! He was in town for the weekend and showed me around Japantown, which was both fascinating and heartbreaking. (120,000 Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII, ultimately destroying businesses and homes. Today, SF's Japantown is one of only three in the US.) We ate at Ramen Yamadaya (SO GOOD!) and he bought a couple of other Japanese snacks for me to try. It was a wonderful time altogether, especially our conversation about social work, faith, and problematic churches in Illinois.
- BJ Miller (director of Zen Hospice Project) and Lucy Kalanithi (widow of Paul, who wroteWhen Breath Becomes Air) spoke at the JCC about end of life care and it was fantastic. I am super passionate about whatever will help us talk more about death, dying, and bereavement. You can watch the video here.
- The next night my book club discussed When Breath Became Air- how was that for timing? Christy and I got to share our thoughts about the event, which added another layer to the discussion. At the end of our time, I might have told everyone to fill out their Advance Directives. (I'm telling you to do that right now, if you haven't already. Five Wishes is a good place to start.)
- Sweet Ace turned 1! The family through a joint birthday party over the weekend with Ace's good pal Jonah who also turned 1. Then on the actual birthday, we took him out for his first ice cream cone. A successful evening!
- From April 13-16 I was at the Festival of Faith and Writing. There is no way to contain my joy at returning to the Festival and getting to see so many dear friends. It would be impossible to list everyone by name and I didn't take nearly enough pictures. I felt like I was floating on air the whole time.
- FFW Session highlights were Austin Channing and Drew Hart's Prophetic Writing, Wes Hill's Writing About Friendship, and Ed Cyzewski, Kris Camealy, Andi Cumbo-Floyd, Jana Riess, and Shawn Smucker's panel on self-publishing.
- The one bummer is that Micha, Ace, and I had to leave earlier than planned after a snowstorm in Denver canceled our flight. This meant I missed getting to catch up with a couple of friends and didn't get to stay for a panel I'd wanted to sit in on. Alas! We got rerouted to Dallas, where we feasted on Tex-Mex from Pappasito's Cantina. So there's a silver lining.
- My pal Annie Parsons came to town for work and it's funny because it was the first time we were face to face but it did not feel that way at all. It was such a treat to take her to my favorite pho place, then walk down to Ghirardelli Square and the pier. I adore her to pieces.
- That night I got to see Annie again while she worked her boss Krista Tippett's event at the JCC. It was fun running into so many friends there and it was fascinating to both see and hear Krista. I'm a huge fan of her radio show/podcast On Being and I can't wait to read her new book Becoming Wise.
- I made this bread for our community group potluck, which was a huge hit. This recipe is so easy with such rave reviews, it'll be my go-to forever. It was really nice to have everyone back together. I loved seeing people hand off babies and trade book recommendations as we all caught up.
- I got to Skype with my darling niece (and brother and sister-in-law) and marvel over how she's walking all over the place now!
- We hosted an event with Rob Bell thanks to his new book How To Be Here, which was fantastic, starting with the appetizers and drinks and ending with his conversation. I got to meet him briefly afterward and he hugged me twice. Totally bragging.
- I headed back to Napa with my friends Jen, Kristin, and Devon. When we got to the airbnb, our friend Arianne surprised us there! It was so good to be all together. We went to some truly amazing wineries. The weather was gorgeous. But the highlight was being in the same place. I love these people.
- I am super impressed with Book of the Month club so far! How they pick the books, the packaging, the small details...fantastic! I started reading my April selection yesterday (No One Knows) and now I have the hard task of choosing my May book. If you want to join, new members get 50% off a 3 month membership with the code REFER50. (This is more affordable than I would have guessed.) Then come back and tell me which book you chose!
In the Blogosphere:
You can find the best of what I've been reading at Storify.
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
(The best way to see updates in your newsfeed is by liking and commenting on my posts regularly.)
What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:
1. Today’s link-up will stay open for one week. The next What I'm Into link up will be Wednesday June 1.
2. Link the unique URL of your post, not your blog's home page. Readers peruse link ups months after the fact and you want to make it easy for them to find your What I'm Into post.
4. Visit at least 2 other posts in the linkup!
What have you been into this month?
Disclosure : Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.