Weekend Reads #270

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Elizabeth Shippen Green - The Library, 1905
The Library, Elizabeth Shippen Green, 1905

A few reads and recommendations for the end of the year. Weekend Reads will resume in 2024 and I look forward to connecting with you! And if you have any recommendations on what to watch, read, hear, or see do share in the comments. I think many of us have a bit more time over the holidays to decompress and maybe get in a book or movie and your favorite may be just what another Wardrobe Oxygen reader needs!

Weekend Reads

The 25 most anticipated books of 2024. (Time)

‘Leave the World Behind' Shows the Comforting Power of Pop Culture. (Collider)

Jezebel is back! (Jezebel)

The dressing-room encounter that made me get real about aging. (Washington Post – gift article)

Sinéad O'Connor Helped Me Find My Voice. (Oldster)

You're fatphobic, okay? (Medium)

101-Year-Old Grace Linn: ‘Burning books and banning books are the same.' (PEN America)

Do elephants have souls? (The New Atlantis)

Depop’s first Trend Report defines the Gen-Z trends to expect in 2024. (Glossy)

Tara Reid feels the love (Bustle)

Confessions of a wedding planner. (The Atlantic – gift article)

Flashes, shimmers and blind spots: Here’s what migraine aura looks like. (Washington Post – gift article)

What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report. (Netflix)

The Fate of Your Holiday-Season Returns. (The Atlantic – gift article)

What’s Old is New Again (and Again): On the Cyclical Nature of Nostalgia (Literary Hub)

Baltimore’s long-shot push for America’s first Black saint (The Baltimore Banner)

And it's Girl Scout cookie season! My daughter is a Girl Scout Senior and is selling cookies. This past year she earned her Silver Award; she and two other scouts in her troop revitalized a local little food pantry and created a program to keep it full through the year. This year she will be a delagate at the Girl Scout Annual Meeting and will soon be starting on her Gold Award. Your cookie orders support her troop activities as well as activities that support our community! You can order cookies to be mailed to your home at this link.

See/Hear/Read

Leave the World Behind

leave the world behind movie poster

I was sick earlier this week which gave me plenty of time to lie on the couch or the carpet bundled up, watching TV and I finally got around to watching, Leave the World Behind, a new film on Netflix based on the novel by Rumaan Alam. Starring Mahershala Ali, Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, and Myha'la, this is a story of what happens when life as we know it ends.

scene from the film Leave the World Behind showing the four main characters looking in fear at a television set

I went into this movie knowing little other than it was about some sort of “end of days” sort of situation, and a lot of folks were angry about the ending, and those who read the book said the film was surprisingly better. And I don't want to add any more than that to any of you who haven't yet seen it. Because I think I enjoyed this film because I went in not knowing much.

Scene from the film LEave the World Behind where Mahershala Ali and Julia Roberts dance in front of a wall of records

And I really did enjoy it. It is not a cheery topic, there is no pretty bow that ties up the story, but the acting is phenomnal, the concept is scarily realistic and possible, and this film has sparked so many discussions with my husband and friends who also watched this film. I personally liked the end, and wouldn't desire anything further but I'd love to read your thoughts!

a view of the kitchen and dining room in the house that is the scene of the film Leave the World Behind

And in case you also wanted to see more of the home where the movie takes place:

Nyad

nyad film poster

I also had a chance to see Nyad, another film on Netflix. Starring Annette Benning and Jodie Foster, Nyad tells the story of swimmer Diana Nyad and how at age 60, after 30 years of not swimming, she successfuly swims from Cuba to Key West. The cast is phenomenal, I hope they win some awards for this film.

A scene from the movie Nyad of Annette Benning as Diana Nyad working out in a gym while Jodie Foster as Bonnie sitting and talking to her.

Diana Nyad is remarkable, but no one is going to describe her as likable. There are parts of the film that seem to drag, but just when you're getting exhausted of all the time of her in the water, it ramps up and the ending may leave you with tears. No matter what you think of Diana Nyad, what she did was effing badass and proof that age is but a number and the mind is the most powerful muscle in the body.

Scene from the movie Nyad of Annette Benning as Diana Nyad in a yellow swim cap smiling as she floats in the ocean, with a white boat in the background

Benning and Foster were awesome, and I am always rooting for older actresses in roles of power and depth. These actresses brought it. I couldn't take my eyes off Benning, in stretched out t-shirts and messy hair, sunburned face with a google tan, played a strong, complicated, troubled, and proud woman. And Foster, oh just seeing her on the screen made me smile. She played Bonnie with such strength and warmth with such ease, it was beautiful to see. It's worth seeing Nyad just to see these amazing actors prove there is no expiration date on powerful women in film or in sports.

A Man in Full

image of the novel A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe

A few weeks ago, I came home from the office and caught the end of a documentary K was watching about the author Tom Wolfe (Radical Wolfe on Netflix). I know who Tom Wolfe is; pretty much anyone Gen X and older knows Tom Wolfe, as well as many millennials, if just for his iconic white suits. Several of us may have read or seen Bonfire of the Vanities or The Right Stuff. But as someone whose English Lit major focused on contemporary women's literature, I didn't read any of Wolfe's. But this doc made me feel I should.

I need to go in person to renew my library card. My library is walking distance from my home, my morning walks occasionally pass right by it, yet I haven't gotten around to being there during business hours so my Libby is limited to what is available from the Maryland Digital Library. Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full, his second novel, which takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, in the '90s, was available in audiobook form.

screenshot of the audiobook A Man in Full buy Tom Wolfe as it is playing in the app Libby

I have listened to 25 hours and still have 10 hours to go. I just renewed my loan and plan to finish it before the year is through. I thought I would hate this, especially the almost robotic narration by Michael Prichard, but I can't stop thinking about this book and how it's almost an anthropological look at men and the patriarchy. And I think that is why I can't stop reading it.

The narrator, with his robotic, 20th-century newscaster voice, makes all of the Black pop culture references sound like jokes, especially since Wolfe, in creating fictional songs, hip-hop artists, and fashion, makes it all seem as though he, as the author, found it ridiculous and juvenile. I find myself disconnecting from the book each time a chapter focuses on the characters of color because they sound so problematic. I wonder if I would find it problematic if I were reading instead of listening. But I keep going, and I am engrossed. I can't believe this 35-hour book has me committed more than any previous audiobook I've listened to this year.

A Man in Full is not escapism, and the book is not without problems, but as a woman, it almost feels like research on how to understand better the men in this world who are so confoundingly aligned to an existence that benefits no one, especially themselves, for fear of looking small or weak or… human.

While looking for a graphic for this review, I learned that David E. Kelley and Regina King are producing a six-part series for Netflix based on this novel. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

For Your Entertainment

the four members of the band Descartes a Kant in pink costumes

Descartes a Kant is an avant-garde rock band from Guadalajara, Mexico, whose first album was released in 2007. The band's name came from a philosophy book that contains a chapter titled “From Descartes to Kant” whose opposing philosophical works framed the beginning of the modern era. They found it an analogy to the contrasts to the musical styles of their group. Descartes a Kant released their first album in the U.S. in 2017 and has opened for artists such as Sonic Youth and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Descartes a Kant fuses elements of punk, metal, shoegaze, noise, and cabaret into their music. Their live shows are supposedly highly theatrical and unpredictable, often featuring elaborate costumes and choreography. Unfortunately, the only show scheduled for 2024 is on Slovakia, but I will be looking to see when they come to the U.S. to experience them live.


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6 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed both movies. I went into Leave the World with no idea about what it was about and I liked it a lot! I loved the ending!

    I watched Nyad while I was chilling with covid contracted on a trip to Egypt. That and listening to Britney Spears book killed a lot of holed up hotel time 🙂

    Merry Christmas to your family. I know this year will be a little harder for you all.

  2. That article about the Luxury Wedding Planner was spot on! I was a Wedding Planner from 2006-2021, but on the opposite end of the spectrum. I specialized in weddings costing $50,000 or less-much less. I had one Bridezilla and she turned on me the day of the wedding! The night prior she and her fiance were both so anxious they asked if they could come over to my house for a little bit. My husband and I calmed them down and prayed with them about their wedding and future. The next day she wouldn’t even speak to me! I never found out what the real issue was except she decided to change the song for the Mother-Son Dance without speaking to the MOG. I questioned this decision since it was the MOG that had hired me and was a friend. The only wedding I broke down in tears was a Big Fat Greek Wedding that the very needy MOB completely lost it when her table (#10) wasn’t served first. That was on the wait staff and not me but it just goes to show that whether you have a lot of money or very little, you can be entitled and treat the “help” with either kindness or like crap. FYI all these years later I am still friends on FB and send Christmas cards to most of “my” couples.

  3. I’ve recently watched the 2 movies you shared & thought both were great! Honestly, Jodie Foster is perfect in any & every role she takes on. Leave The World Behind—the casting was SO good! I’d read the book a year or so ago so was prepared for the ending. And, yes, in spite of the difficult subject matter, the movie is worth watching because of such great actors & story.

    I also finished watching The Crown this week. Wow, it’s been about 10 years since it started—hard to believe that! Was this season the best—maybe not—but I still enjoyed it. I thought the episodes with Princess Diana (while still alive) were the best.

    My husband and I have been watching Reservation Dogs on Hulu since it started & will soon finish Season 3. Hate to see it end. Those teens are endearing & it’s a good show. We also love Julia on HBOMax. We try to wait to watch so that we can at least see 2 episodes at a time. And, one more recommendation: Slow Horses on Apple TV. It’s a dramady about British spies who are considered to be the misfits. Season 3 was recently released. We’ve been waiting for it to start back up!

  4. Yes, I read some Tom Wolfe in writing years ago and can confirm that the way he discusses characters of color sounds problematic. Sounds like the voice actor did a good job conveying his tone. It’s still interesting in the way that reading something historical or that lots of other people like is interesting. Happy holidays, Alison!

  5. Alison, I know it’s a difficult time, but still, Happy Holidays to you & your family. I hope you are able to enjoy the down time & family time. Paula

  6. Amassing job by your daughter in scouting!

    Can we hope for a post by her? I would love to see a regular guest post by her or by you both!

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