Bookshelf: Understanding Other Perspectives

In the past few years, our differences as human beings have been in full view. In the news, we hear about how the "liberal elites" are living in a bubble, the ignorance of which led to the results of the 2016 election. As someone who reluctantly falls into that category, I do agree although I don't blame people for existing in these bubbles.

It can be hard to get outside yourself and your immediate circle. As a "liberal elite", I'm in a bubble. As a white, middle class woman, I'm a bubble. We all exist in our own bubbles that we should make an effort to get out of every once in awhile. I've been making an effort to read more books, articles, and essays written by or about individuals who experience life from different perspectives than mine. I truly think this is the best way to start bridging the divide, so here are a few options: 

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Vance, who grew up in rural Appalachia before going on to graduate from Yale Law School, writes about his childhood and family. While this is an incredibly interesting family memoir, it also serves as a look into the people we refer to as "hillbillies", portraying them as human beings who make certain decisions and develop opinions based on their circumstances, rather than the stereotype developed in Hollywood.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This story follows a high school girl who witnesses the murder of her childhood friend by a police officer and the aftermath of the event both in her psyche and in the world, from the news coverage to the reactions from people around her to the court case that follows. This book blew me away and is incredibly timely.  

The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen
A Finnish journalist becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen and uses this book to compare and contrast the culture, values, and specific policies that make the Nordic countries so desirable to so many Americans. From maternity leave and taxes to healthcare and employment, this book provides an in-depth understanding of the specific ways in which Nordic countries are running their governments. 

The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
Senator Ben Sasse writes about what he believes to be an existential threat to America's future---a generation concerned with trigger warnings and safe spaces with overprotective, coddling parents. Sasse outlines his the ways he believes parents can raise their children to uphold the values older Americans were raised to respect. My personal belief is that millennial and younger generations are, understandably, beginning to have very different values than their parents and grandparents but in order to defend those new values, we should attempt to understand the values that came before ours.

Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
Arlie Hochschild, a renowned sociologist from California, embedded herself in rural Louisiana in order to understand those who subscribe to the beliefs of the conservative right. Embedding herself into a group of people whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to her own, she digs deeper into the issues that plague their communities in order to dispel the liberal notion that poor conservatives are being "duped" into voting for people and policies that hurt them.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In his National Book Award winning essays written as letters to his son, Coates (who also writes for The Atlantic) explains to his son how race has shaped the history of the United States through personal experiences as well as historical anecdotes. Topics addressed are the murders of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and the worshipers killed in South Carolina as being part of a structural, systemic construct in American culture. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche  
This story follows a young Nigerian woman who immigrates to the United States and her lover who isn't able to follow her and ends up in post-9/11 London. The young woman is confronted in the U.S. with vastly different race politics than she experienced in Nigeria and provides an interesting perspective for those of us who exist outside of this spectrum. The story follows the young woman's experience with everything from dating as a black woman in America to the under-representation of black women in American beauty campaigns.

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
A compilation of short stories about the lives of people in "laundromats and half-way houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians". These stories will bring you into the unique stories of those who live the kind of lives you may never live. 

Round-Up: Fun Things to Try This Weekend

Can you guys believe that today is the first day of summer? To be honest, the weather has made me feel like it has been summer for a few weeks already! But, now that it is officially summer, we can all plan a bunch of fun activities and weekends. I'm going to a baseball game next week...the ultimate classic summer activity! This weekend, try some of these fun ideas to celebrate summer.

Head to the library and pick up a book from the Poolside Reading Guide.

Put on your cutest outfit and head to the Farmer's Market to pick up some fresh produce.

Use your bundles of produce to make a delicious fruit-centered breakfast.

Pack your bag and spend the afternoon by the pool.

If it's too hot to be outdoors, hide away in the movie theater and pick a fun, new film to watch.

Squeeze in a quick, outdoor workout at the park or in your backyard.

If you're feeling crafty, try making your own marbled soap.

Make a fun, summer drink to sip outdoors.

Two Recent Cultural Obsessions

When I get into something, I often get really into it and that's how I've been with two different things recently...

Quantico, season 2
I'm usually really bad at binge watching because I go back and forth between shows so often. In the past few weeks, I've been back-and-forth between Gossip Girl, Riverdale, and The West Wing but season two of Quantico just came on Netflix and it's hooked me to the point where I'm watching it and only it. I liked season one, but I think I like season two even better. I've been obsessed with spies and spy culture since I was a little girl, so it's not a surprise I love a show about the FBI and CIA, but all of the chic, stylish, badass female characters make it even better!

The Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack
Obviously I haven't been able to get tickets to the show yet so I pulled a Hamilton and started listening to the soundtrack after I heard a clip of "Waving Through a Window". The same night I heard that clip, I listened to the whole soundtrack twice and decided that I'm in love with Ben Platt. Highly recommended! The whole thing is on Spotify.

What new obsessions do you guys have?

 

What to Wear: 4th of July

Independence Day is coming up the in the States and that means you need the perfect red, white and blue look that's cute yet works for a hot, summer day. What do you guys usually do to celebrate the 4th or your country's comparable holiday? I don't have solid plans as of yet, but I'm sure it'll involve an ice-cream cone at some point! 

As for outfits, I suggest an easy dress to keep cool while still looking pulled together. Select one of the three colors as your base...I'd go for navy or white...then dress up the look with red and white accessories!

Simple Navy Dress, Red Silk Scarf, and Neutral Accessories

Gingham Dress, Espadrilles, Bamboo Bag, Red Sunglasse

White Dress, Red Earrings, Blue Sandals, Tortoise Sunglasses

The Weekend List {No. 10}

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Well, I'm still in a funk over here but Brighton had a great post this week (about also being in a funk) and it was pretty encouraging! I'm going to plan something fun to do today or tomorrow, maybe going somewhere pretty to take photos or maybe going to see a movie at the place with the reclining chairs and food service. Or, I'll find a Bond movie (I've been trying to see them all) to watch and bake something intricate.

Meanwhile this week, there was a wonderful piece on The Atlantic about how elite colleges can foster 'a cycle of grandiosity and depression' in its students. This was the kind of article I wish that I could pass along to all high school students, college students, and their parents. 

I've been rewatching episodes of The West Wing every so often and got to an episode recently that made me remember how much I adore the character of Ainsley Hayes. She's a beautiful, blonde, Southern, Republican woman who goes to work in President Bartlett's White House and essentially has the exact opposite beliefs as the rest of the staff yet she delivers her opinions and arguments in an incredibly intelligent, collected way that respects her opponents as well as herself. This clip shows some scenes from the episode that stood out to me as being a model for how we should all aspire to communicate our beliefs because, while I may not agree with the position she is defending, the way she says it commands respect and makes you think.

On that note, I love the quote in the photo above and the phrase is actually one I use quite a bit. There is so much going on in the world, as there has been for eternity, but things seem so loud these days and I really see it taking a toll on people's daily lives. Among all of the terrible things, I simply say "What a time to be alive" not just because of the wonderful things happening but also because times of madness often usher in times of great resolution. They shake us up and force us out of our comfort zone, but I like to believe that's for a reason---that to move forward into a new, better age requires a seismic shift in all of us!

Hope you guys have the best weekend!