I’ve had several conversations over the last few weeks with friends and family, sharing the books, movies, TV, podcasts and music that we’re loving at the moment. I’m always interested in finding new and interesting information, in learning and expanding my horizons and I love getting recommendations from people I know. With that in mind, I thought I’d share here some of the things that I’m loving right now in hopes that you’ll find some interest and value in it as well. I’m including links on everything if you’d like to know more!
Civilized to Death by Christopher Ryan – I’m currently reading this slowly, taking in a chapter every week or so. This book posits that civilization was perhaps the worst thing that happened to us and gives historical and current examples to back that idea. Very insightful, it’s a far cry from the message we’re used to that everything must get bigger, better and more exponentially. This book makes me slow down, ask questions and look at our world with fresh eyes, which I love. Civilized to Death
The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn – I read this last fall and found it fascinating. It’s a post-apocalyptic story unlike any I’ve ever read before. 95% of the world’s population disappears instantly and those left behind struggle to make sense of the very different, strange and confusing world they now find themselves in. When the main characters find themselves pregnant and then give birth to objects instead of babies, the story takes an even more interesting turn. Read this, it’ll blow your mind. The Rending and the Nest
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah – A collection of short stories that will challenge, entertain and make you think all at the same time. Themes of racism, consumerism and what it means to be human in today’s crazy world. This book made me laugh, cry, gasp and look away in horror. Highly recommended for those that like a little enlightenment with their entertainment like I do. Friday Black
Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food by Gene Baur – I’m reading this now and whew, it’s a doozy. Gene is one of the founders of Farm Sanctuary, which rescues farm animals and gives them a home, love and comfort. At their two locations in New York and California, these farm animals are given a new lease on life and allowed to be the beautiful, social and loving creatures they were intended to be. This book documents the reality of factory farming, stockyards and slaughterhouses with the firsthand experience of Gene as he built his sanctuary from the ground up and rescued those that he could while working to expose the industry and change the legislature accordingly. While it’s often hard to read and not turn away, it’s vitally important to shine a light on these shadows and understand what really happens in the facilities we trust to produce our food. The horrors are softened with stories of rescue and hope, with spotlight stories of individual sanctuary residents and the love and joy they have now. I have cried several times while reading this one, both in anguish and in joy, and I’m only halfway through it. In my opinion, this should be required reading for ALL. Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food
The Pines – I found this band last fall and have fallen in love with all of their music. It’s chill, relaxing folk music that’s unlike anything else I’ve heard, the perfect soundtrack for just about every activity. The music is sparse and uncomplicated, the lyrics are hauntingly beautiful and while I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite song of theirs, the first one I heard was All the While and it holds a special place in my heart. The Pines
Shawn James – My daughter turned me on to this artist and I really dig his style of music. It’s a blend of folk, soul and blues, a very indie-coffeehouse vibe. Sometimes chill and sometimes hard-hitting, his songs are always full of feeling. His voice is amazing and you just can’t help singing along with him. Burn the Witch is the first song I heard of his and it reminds me a lot of the song playing while Salma Hayek dances in From Dusk till Dawn (After Dark by Tito & the Tarantulas). Great stuff! Shawn James
Mogli – I discovered Mogli’s music through the movie Expedition Happiness, in which she and her boyfriend travel from Alaska to Mexico on a converted bus with their dog, Rudi. Her music is the soundtrack for the film and I adore both. It’s hard to describe the music, it’s like indie-chill-upbeat-folksy pop music that’s different from anything else you’ve heard. Her voice is incredibly soulful and I while haven’t found one song of hers that I don’t like, if I had to pick a favorite it would be Road Holes. Mogli
MOVIES AND TV
Minimalism: a Documentary about the Important Things – I LOVE THIS MOVIE. I’ve watched it repeatedly and I know I’ve mentioned my affinity for The Minimalists several time in this blog already. This film sums up all that is wrong with our consumer-driven culture and offers such a fresh perspective on a different way to live our lives. Joshua and Ryan are so real and entertaining and this movie is a great gateway to understanding and embracing the minimalist lifestyle that I’ve come to treasure. It’s on Netflix, highly recommended! Minimalism
Expedition Happiness – As mentioned above, this is a documentary about a couple and their dog who convert a school bus into an RV and travel from Alaska to Mexico in it. It’s absolutely beautifully shot, the scenery is breathtaking. Their adventures are funny, sad, frustrating and ultimately so fulfilling. I watched this soon after our decision to go full time in the RV and while our journey will look far different from theirs, I wish we could do what they did. Plus, Mogli’s music is gorgeous and Rudi the dog will steal your heart. Also on Netflix. Expedition Happiness
Black Mirror – I absolutely love this series on Netflix. It’s a mind-bending mix of science fiction and drama and craziness. Each episode is like a mini-movie separate from the others, but after watching for awhile you will see threads that tie them together. There are a few episodes that weren’t my favorite but overall I’m a huge fan. A few standouts for me were Fifteen Million Merits, White Bear, Black Museum and San Junipero. Bonus: Black Mirror also did a full length movie set in the 80’s, complete with Choose Your Own Adventure features built in so that you can decide the course of the story. AMAZING! Black Mirror
Eating Animals – a documentary available on Hulu examining our habit of eating animals and all that it entails. Narrated by Natalie Portman, this film steers away from the shock value of horror conditions that some others thrive on and instead examines natural and factory farms to highlight the differences and why they are important. Interviews with farmers and veterinarians trying to do the right thing as well as tons of information about the meat, dairy and egg industries as a whole. Eye opening and informative, this is a great place to start when waking up to the reality of where our food comes from and making informed decisions about what we eat and how we contribute to the industry as consumers. Eating Animals
The Minimalists – As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of these guys. They do a weekly podcast and cover all different topics including finances, parenting, relationships, careers, faith and community. They examine topics from the minimalist perspective and with their guests, they offer valuable advice and ideas on ways to minimize the clutter in our lives so that we can maximize the joy and satisfaction. They end every podcast with their motto “Love people and use things, because the opposite never works”, a message that really resonates with me. Really good stuff. The Minimalists
Risk! – I found this podcast a few months ago and I look forward to new episodes every week. Host Kevin Allison shares several stories each week from people that thought they’d never dare to share with others. Whether live or recorded, the stories are at turns hilarious, shocking, sad, hopeful, devastating and everything in between. In my ongoing endeavor to learn more about others and their perspective, this show is outstanding in giving me glimpses into lives and people I’d otherwise never meet and know. It reinforces in me that we are all the same wonderfully damaged people, doing our best to navigate the crazy lives we’re given. I always feel a closer kinship to people in general after listening to each episode. Risk!
Tangentially Speaking – This is Christopher Ryan’s podcast (author of Civilized to Death, referenced before) and I really enjoy it. He has guests on from every walk of life, from celebrities and athletes to authors to someone he met at a cafe yesterday and found interesting. Listening to this podcast is like being in a fascinating, in depth conversation and I always feel like I’m learning about something I’ve never considered before. Christopher has decided to live his life how he sees fit and talks with others that are living and doing things outside the status quo. Highly introspective and motivational, I’m always thrilled when there’s a new episode to listen to and absorb. Tangentially Speaking
Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack! – I actually just started listening to this podcast recently and it might surprise a lot of people as it’s far from what any one would expect from me. On this podcast, Nichole and Callie discuss all kinds of issues from a feminist, anti-capitalist, pro-intersectionalist, anarchist and vegan perspective. While the hosts are younger than me and have different opinions than I do on a number of issues, I do find a lot of common ground and shared beliefs on others. I believe in exposing yourself to all ideas and perspectives rather than surrounding yourself with only those that agree with you on all issues and in listening to this podcast I find myself relating to and understanding more of the millennial mindset instead of dismissing it. While it’s possible that the hosts’ strongly held belief systems might find me “problematic” in some ways, I enjoy listening to their ideas and thoughts on issues of the day and expanding my own understanding of the world around me. With understanding comes growth. Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack!
So there you have it, a look at what’s on my kindle/TV/phone playlists at the moment. I hope this has been helpful and that you find something of interest or value to look into further. I love feedback so if you do check something out, let me know what you thought. And if you have a recommendation for me, I welcome it with open arms as well!
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