It's summer in the city, which means those of us living in the nation's capital are trying to find respite from the heat. One thing I've found helps is pretending to be elsewhere. And what better way to do that than digging into some good books/podcasts/music? I mean take a look, it's in a book right? (You're welcome for getting that stuck in your head.)
In addition, it's World Cup Final weekend, which is the topic du jour here in the ex-pat filled Washington Delegation. A UK book publisher hilariously went viral after live-tweeting the World Cup, complaining business had gone down since everyone was currently glued to their televisions.
And when England lost to Croatia...
So once you've all come down from your soccer/football highs, remember, books are where it's at. And as per our biannual custom, Intercross has for you a list of our favorite reading/watching/listening suggestions. We invited the entire delegation to participate but the responses were all female so we're going to roll with a special Ladies Edition (#whoruletheworld). At the bottom you will also find my own thoughts, plus a compilation of favorite links to recommendations by others. Enjoy!
Macy Passawe, Welcome Assistant
A New Earth (Awakening to your Life's Purpose) - Eckhart Tolle
It took me a YEAR to start and finish this book, it kicked my tush and defined my 2017. With the paper back having only about 311 pages, I wish I could say it was because I was reading a page a day...but I wasn't. Usually, I'd consume a piece like this faster than you could order your caramel macchiato with almond milk and extra caramel, hold the whip, but this book stopped me in real time. Reading A New Earth (ANE) forced me to slow down, inhale often, and question so much of the sophomoric paradigms I once held on to for dear life . Who knew a man such as Eckhart Tolle or any man for that matter, could write an entire book about the ego and it be a hit? Eckhart touches on the presence of pain bodies and their effect, being present, and the impossibility of defining consciousness. This book was the birth place of #MacyReads, and myself along with other readers have been picking it apart all Q2 of this year. I was gifted ANE, at the time life believed I was ready for it and I hope the same for you as you read this review. Man, what a time, to be aligned.
I am Malala - Malala Yousafzai
Beyond the obvious theme in this autobiography (you know, a girl standing up for education and challenging the Taliban by her existence alone...NBD) I was moved by Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala's Father. His love for Malala and belief in her ability empowered her to constantly strive to do her best and not fall victim to any baseless barriers supported by ignorance alone. Mr. Yousafzai understood the importance and value of educating girls, and was willing to risk his life for it. From the onset of the book, we are taken on Malala's personal journey and see the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan through her innocence and wisdom. But don't take my word for it, pick up a copy and take Malala's.
Oprah Winfrey podcast is a life GIVER. Her guests range from Will.i.am to Bryan Stevenson, Anthony Ray Hinton, Tom Brady, Maria Shriver and so many other diverse and insightful beings. It is a podcast of Oprah's personal selection of interviews with thought-leaders, authors, health and wellness experts, all touching in some way, how they've connected to the deeper meaning of the world around them . According to her site, it is all designed to light you up, guide you through life's big questions and help bring you closer to your best self. Listen during your commute, or while relaxing on the beach; either way you're sure to be enriched, it's Oprah, need I say more?
Kelli Sullivan, Welcome Representative
I just finished reading Work Clean by Dan Charnas, a book on how to incorporate the culinary practice of mise-en-place into everyday life. Mise-en-place is a French expression that roughly translates to “everything in its place” and is a way of life for chefs. This book provides a unique insight into the culinary world, and offers tips for using mise-en-place to become more present.
I am obsessed with the podcast, Skimm’d From the Couch. Every week, the Skimm founders talk to female entrepreneurs, with the rule of no BS on what it took for them to get to the top. As spectators, it is easy to see others success and not know the difficulties endured along the way. Listening to the stories is inspiring, and their advice is especially useful for women in the workplace. Episodes come out every Wednesday and make the hump day commute more enjoyable.
Tracey Begley, Legal Advisor
All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
This is the book for anyone who needs reminding of the strength and power of human connection, love and empathy, even in the darkest times. It is also for anyone who loves technology and believes it has the power to connect people. Doerr weaves together the stories of a poor German boy and a blind French girl whose lives become intertwined during World Word II. He is an orphan from a mining town who finds himself in a German military academy, and then fighting on the front lines, while using his keen intellect and curiosity to master the use of radios. She becomes blind as a young girl, and she and her loving father flee Paris to live with her uncle in the coastal city of St. Malo, enduring endless airstrikes, attacks, lack of food and resources. She, too, shares a keen curiosity and love of the radio, even when radios are banned by the Germans. The book takes the reader through the horrendous realities of fighting in World War II, and the horrific repercussions on civilians. Nevertheless, love for family, and a love of radio, music and stories provide hope and connection throughout the book. I found it both easy and hard to read – beautifully written, so the pages almost turn themselves, yet so deeply sad and hopeful at the same time.
Andrea Harrison, Deputy Legal Advisor
East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands
In light of my day job as a law-of-armed conflict lawyer, I tend to avoid reading about the laws of war in my off-time, but one of my (non-legal!) colleagues recommended this book. Despite the heavy subject matter, it reads more like a fictional novel and is surprisingly uplifting at times. Instead of focusing on the gravity of the crimes themselves, Philippe Sands looks at the personal lives of those who essentially created our modern system of International Criminal Law when they helped design the Nuremburg trials. Before reading this, I really had no idea how the Holocaust and the horrors of World War II had so personally affected some of the greatest names in modern international law.
Niki Clark, Digital & Special Projects Advisor
I just got back from a month long road trip throughout Canada and Alaska and in the process rediscovered my love for audio books. Feeling a bit like an adventurer myself (I camped in a dry creek bed! I hiked Denali! I wrangled bears! Or at least I got super close to them!), most of the dozen or so books I got through were travel/adventure/Alaska oriented. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah, is a heart tugging read about a former POW who brings his family up to the last frontier following his release from a Vietnam prison. His daughter, 13 year old Leni, learns to survive her parent's volatile relationship and an unforgiving landscape. It was an emotional read and Hannah's compelling writing made me unsure if I was making a huge mistake or if becoming a homesteader is in my immediate future.
Of course up in Alaska, Christopher McCandless (Alex Supertramp) is the stuff of legends, but after the success of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, many readers were left wondering what exactly drove him to leave everything, including his family, behind. Seventeen years later, his sister Carine shares her perspective and everything becomes much clearer in The Wild Truth. An incredibly personal memoir, I found myself enthralled, empathetic and broken-hearted.
Other literary highlights from my trip include North of Normal, Heroes of the Frontier, Little Fires Everywhere and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I'm currently in the middle of The Last Place on Earth, the true story of Britain and Norway's race to be the first to the South Pole, which has me thinking Antarctica should be my next adventure.
And after ending my trip in Vancouver, BC on Canada Day (what timing!), I was reminded how much I still love the Tragically Hip (RIP Gord Downie) and how much his home country is still mourning its loss. Here's a best of the Hip playlist for you all to enjoy.
Still not sure what to think of our recommendations?
Here are some from others! Happy reading/watching/listening!
Recommendations From Others:
- NY Times Summer Reading List
- 20 Books Bill Gates Says You Should Read this Summer
- Lawfare's Book Reviews
- The 40 Best Books to Read This Summer
- The Ultimate Summer 2018 Reading List
- The Best Grown-Up Reads of June 2018
- The Best Podcasts of 2018 (So Far)
- Time's Best Podcasts of 2018 So Far