An Ideal Single Life
The Next Right Step

What I'm Into (August 2016 Edition)


Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from the Land's End Labyrinth

It doesn't feel like August in the Bay but as I told a friend the other day, I'll never be mad about sweater weather, even if it's in the summer.This month turned out to be rather surprising and filled with logistics and decision-making and good books and soul stirring conversations and even a quick trip thrown into the mix. 


Read and Reading

PicMonkey Collage

I'm a little swoony over Shatter Me (Mafi.) Gorgeous, unique writing, though I can see how it might not be for everyone. It was spot on for me- I wrote down so many quotes. We get a stream of conscious from Juliette, complete with repetitions and lines stetted out. It made the action feel that much more immediate. I really felt like I was there with Juliette and Adam, which made it a hard book to put down. I'm really drawn toward stories about people with unusual abilities who go from seeing them as a curse to seeing them as a gift. I'm curious to see how this will play out for Juliette in the next book. Also curious to get more of Adam's story. He's dreamy yet mysterious and I hope Juliette is right in trusting him.


I loved Bracken's take on time travel in Passenger and especially loved the main characters. She takes the novel in such interesting directions with Nicholas being a freed (biracial) slave and the complications that develop for that time period (and others) when he and Etta contemplate romance. The ending threw me- it had been a 5 star read up until that point- but I'm more than willing to see where Bracken takes us with book 2. 


I love a good past-present story and A Paris Apartment (Gable) fit the bill. April goes to Paris for work to escape her life so she doesn't have to make a decision about her husband's infidelity. We come to see that "escape" is a common theme in April's life and it makes some of her decisions more understandable, even if I didn't agree with them. I loved learning more about her job as an appraiser. I don't think I'll ever look at furniture the same way. It was uneven in places but that could be more because I did not understand or agree with April's passivity, nor why Marthe's story mattered so much to her. Her relationship with Marthe- the long dead original owner of the apartment she's evaluating- bordered on co-dependent. That said, I did enjoy learning more of Marthe's story through her journals. There was some lovely character growth and while I feel uneasy about Luc's (Parisian solicitor) role, I was sad when the novel ended.


The first chapter of Missing, Presumed (Steiner) perfectly captured the horrors of online dating. (Although Manon and I respond to those horrors VERY differently.) That's not what the plot is about but I loved the picture it painted of our main character and how her singleness factored in to the coming events. Fast-paced with lots of twists and turns, this was quite the enjoyable ride leading up to a deft combination of people and events. While I was impressed by all this, the last chapter was a bit of a letdown, if only because I am not such a forgiving person when characters behave badly.


I included Necessary Trouble (Jaffe) in my August New Release round up post but I cannot stop singing its praises. If you asked me a month ago what the Tea Party and Black Lives Matter have in common, I would have said, "nothing." But after reading Necessary Trouble, I can now point to any number of post-2008 movements and see the common threads. Whether Walmart employees or environmental activists, Jaffe shows how the deep dissatisfaction with and anger over the present state of affairs has been channeled into action and change. It's no longer business as usual. People are risking arrest and starting movements to disrupt the system and it is often working. (Glory be!) Jaffe shows each movement's strengths and struggles and I was particularly impressed by how she delved into the racism of certain segments of the Tea Party. I also loved the emphasis on intersectionality and the way class was highlighted as a common bond. Well researched and incredibly engaging, I underlined and asterisked my way through this book. It's a game-changer and definitely going on my Favorite list for 2016. If you read it, let's discuss. (Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)



You can see all the books I've read at Goodreads. My fiction and nonfiction recommendations, comprised of books with 4 or 5 star ratings, are on Pinterest.

Currently reading: The Complete Enneagram (Chestnut), The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), To Bless The Space Between Us (O'Donohue), Left Of Boom: How A Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated The Taliban And Al-Qaeda (Laux), The Wangs. Vs. The World (Chang), Assata: An Autobiography (Shakur)

(I read 20 books this month.)



New discoveries: Cobi, Basia Bulat, Kathryn Calder, The Weather Station

Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.



In The Baby-Sitter's Club Club, Jack and Tanner are going book by book through Ann M. Martin's beloved series with hilarious results. I was trying not to laugh out loud on the bus while they discussed the Gothic and Marxist influences present in Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls. (But also: they had a point. Who knew?!)

My friend Laura Tremaine launched her podcast Smartest Person In The Room and it is amazing. She's started us off with the Hollywood series and I was fascinated by her interview with Disney screenwriter Phil Johnston in the first episode. I learned so much!

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile launched their Enneagram podcast The Road Back To You, featuring short interviews with people about their type (i.e. Shauna Niequist talks about being a 7, Nadia Bolz-Weber talks about being an 8.) Their forthcoming book releases in October and it is fantastic. 

I've been delving into Overdue's archives and loved their discussion of A Prayer For Owen Meany and did not stop laughing when Dame Margaret and Dame Sophie took on the problematic Flowers In The Attic.

Code Switch has been on fire! Struggling School, Or Sanctuary?, Say My Name, Say My Name (Correctly, Please), and Nate Parker's Past, His Present, And The Future Of "The Birth Of A Nation" are all well worth listening to.

I really appreciated The Lively Show #162: A Lively Adventure- What Knowing Feels Like (& What To Do When You Don't Know).

In The Smart Podcast, Trashy Books archives, episode #118 Discussing Rape, Trigger Warnings, And Also What We're Reading made me think about the importance of including trigger warnings for rape when I'm writing book reviews. It's not something I've thought to do if it's not a major part of the story but their discussion was eye opening.

The Popcast's episode #156: Pop Culture Comforts and Deconstructing Ryan Lochte was great not only because there was a personality type segue I inadvertently contributed to but also because I now hold the coveted title: Friend Of The Show. Yesssssssss.

Making Friends on Reply All about blew my ever loving mind. I had never heard of Tulpas (intelligent companions imagined into existence) before and while it sounds like imaginary friends for grown ups or a mental health diagnosis, I guess maybe it isn't??



Things I Love: 

  • I'm super grateful for the friends who dropped off food and flowers and who took me to medical appointments while I was convalescing from kidney stones and for all the rest who offered to help. It meant so much knowing I could turn to them.
  • After having the house to myself for most of July, the family I live with returned from their vacation. It was so good to be reunited, especially with darling Ace.
  • I won a Goodreads giveaway! This is the second time it's happened this year. Maybe my giveaway luck is changing.
  • I also won an ARC of Katee Robert's forthcoming novel. If there's an author you enjoy, make sure you follow them on FB and join any private FB groups they have. Between advance excerpts and giveaways and insights into their writing process, it is more than worth it.


  • I flew off to the Twin Cities for a long weekend to catch up with friends. Kelly, Allison, and Chris Ann took me to Ox Cart Ale House for dinner. We started off at the roof top bar but had to move downstairs due to a storm. They were apologetic about the weather but I was in heaven. I have missed the rain so much! Plus, dinner with these friends is perfection no matter what else is going on.
  • I stayed with Kelly for two nights and got to hang out with her kids and experience her town. So much fun!


  • Addie (and her kids) took me to Minnesota Center for Book Arts (amazing!) and then we walked across the Stone Arch Bridge. Then we tucked into some fried food at Wilde Roast. I was thrilled to see the restaurant had a sign welcoming all refugees and Muslims. I'm all for businesses standing up against hate in tangible ways!
  • Then I stayed with my friend Annie for a night. We ordered food in and talked the night away before watching the Olympics. It was so normal and right and completely relaxing.
  • In the morning, she and her friend took me on a long walk by two lakes in her neighborhood. The weather was perfect! It was beautiful and I left my phone at her house so I have no pictures of any of it. 
  • My friend Rachel is moving away so we met up for dinner at Nopalito and one last outing to Holy Gelato. I've loved getting to know Rachel and her husband this past year and I'm so glad they've been a part of my SF adventures.
  • I caught up with Cara, which was must-needed since we hadn't seen each other since FFW. Oakland is just a bridge away and yet I never go into East Bay, which constantly surprises me. It's good to get out of the city.
  • Micha and I ordered our favorite Chinese food from Nan King in honor of her birthday. Nothing says "here's to another year!" like their amazing spring rolls.
  • Laura T. and I had my favorite chicken pho for lunch and then we stopped by Batter Bakery for some phenomenal cookies. I'm going to need more of those cookies in my life.


  • I had hoped to see the sunset at Sutro Baths but it turned foggy the night I planned to meet up with Laura P. So we turned to Plan B and checked out the Land's End Labyrinth. What a view!
  • My stylist Gaby at Modern Salon is a hair whisperer. She also told me my eyebrows are amazing and I've never felt so happy about my low maintenance beauty routine and good genes paying off. If you're in the Bay Area, I highly recommend her.
  • I actually solved an HaBO at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books! This may be the first and only time my Robin Jones Gunn knowledge has come in handy.
  • The September issues of In Style and Vogue!
  • I'm presently away at an off-site for work so I'll add in all the awesomeness later. I really love my coworkers and last year's off-site was so much fun!



Favorite Instagram:


When friends ask if they can help, always say yes. So much loveliness results.

(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)


On The Blog:

I shared the 5 pillars of my ideal single life, something I've spent a lot of time thinking through and then living out the past several months. 



What I'm Into

What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:

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What have you been into this month? 

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