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”

Word of Mouth, Quarantine Edition

Prior to the advent of Covid-19, I was about 70% through the first draft of a novel about a virus, an anger virus. Looking back on what I wrote, I am stunned by how mild and self-contained the virus I created was. I am currently too busy  panic cleaning, home schooling and hand washing to do much about the novel, but in the process of doing research into epidemiology and vaccines, I came across several books that helped me understand how viruses work, and thought now would be an excellent time to recommend them.

If you have it in you to learn more about how microscopic pathogens can upend the globe, here are four fascinating books that helped me understand. If you’ve had enough pathogens, skip ahead to the ESCAPE section. And wash your hands!

ENGAGE:

Memoir about a pandemic (small pox) with a happy ending: Sometimes Brilliant:The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History, by Larry Brilliant

Thematic treatment of how pathogens develop and mutate, and what is necessary for them to thrive: Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, by Sonia Shah

A history of how vaccines were discovered, and how they work: Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity, by Michael Kinch

How cholera seized and changed London, seen through the efforts of a pioneering physician and a connected local priest: The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World— Steven Johnson

ESCAPE:

TV: Agents of ShieldMaurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon. Netflix

TV: Episodes — David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. Amazon. 

TV: False Flag — Maria Feldman, Amit Cohen. Hulu.

TV: Imposters – Paul Adelstein and Adam Brooks. Netflix. 

MOVIE: Yesterday –Danny Boyle. HBO.

TV: MarpleAgatha Christie. Hulu.

FICTION: The Safety Net — Andrea Camilleri

Not-so-ancient wisdom:

“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required.”

Winston Churchill

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