BEST OF 2021

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NON-FICTION: The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together — Heather McGhee

FICTION: Gold Diggers — Sanjena Sathian

FICTION: Impostor Syndrome — Kathy Wang

MEMOIR: Beautiful Country — Xian Julie Wang

ESSAYS: People Love Dead Jews — Dara Horn

DOCUMENTARY: A Thousand Cuts — Ramona S. Diaz

MOVIE: Plus One —Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer

MOVIE: Rocks — Sarah Gavron

MUSIC: An Evening with Silk Sonic — Bruno Mars, Anderson.Paak

TV: Taste the Nation — Padma Lakshmi

PODCAST: The Story of America’s Founding You Weren’t Taught in School: Jamelle Bouie interviews Woody Holton on The Ezra Klein Show

Late October Word of Mouth

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Liberation, Elevation, Education: Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land—Leah Penniman

Essays: The Book of Delights — Ross Gay

Fiction: The Farm — Tom Rob Smith

Middle-grade novel: Merci Suárez Changes Gears — Meg Medina

Podcast: Cautionary Tales — Tim Harford, “The Rogue Dressed as a Captain.”

Not-so-ancient wisdom:

The routines of journalists are based on assumptions of how candidates will behave and Trump violates all those assumptions. And so the routines break, and the practices break, and they don’t want to reinvent their routines, so they sort of keep on with the tools that they have, and they don’t apply to Donald Trump. And one of the best examples of that is the whole notion of a gaffe — a candidate lets something really damaging slip from his or her tongue, and it becomes a controversy and distracts from what the candidate is trying to accomplish. The entire presidency of Donald Trump is a gaffe. It’s a twenty times a day gaffe, and so to even use that term with Biden —which the campaign press did earlier in the year, talking about his gaffes— is kind of crazy there’s something lunatic about it. But it’s an example of clinging to your practices after the premises underneath them have fallen through.

Jay Rosen, from the podcast, On the Media, “Emergency Mode”

Late September Word of Mouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song: Turntables [Emotion Picture] — Janelle Monáe

Documentary: All in: The Fight for Democracy — Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes

Memoir: My Time Among the Whites — Jennine Capót Crucet

Mystery: Who Is Vera Kelly? — Rosalie Knecht

TV Series: Taste the Nation — Padma Lakshmi

 

January Word of Mouth

Fiction: To Each His Own — Leonardo Sciascia, translated by Adrienne Foulke.

Memoir: Born a Crime — Trevor Noah.

Podcast episode: “An Historical Lens on Trump’s Authoritarianism.” Trumpcast. 

Non-Fiction: The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France’s Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando — Paul Kix.

Documentary with Animation: Ask Dr. Ruth — Ryan White. Hulu. 

Stand-Up Comedy: “Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America!” Netflix.

Not-so-ancient wisdom: “There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of soft-mindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

         — Martin Luther King, Jr., “Strength To Love”

 

Late October Word of Mouth

 

Fiction: My Sister, the Serial Killer — Oyinkan Braithwaite

Podcast episode: Say Yes to Rebuilding Post- Trump — Trumpcast (Slate)

Podcast episode: The Family Business — Trump, Inc. (WNYC Studios/ ProPublica)

Non-Fiction: Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-starved World — Seth M. Siegel

 

Ancient Inspiration:

“In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive.” 

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8. 51

 

Not-so-Ancient Inspiration: 

“The work is the work, regardless of whether you decide to be ground down by it.”

Seth Godin