Books & Podcast Recommendations for the Easily Distracted Parent

In the six years since I first became a parent, I’ve discovered that my attention span is exactly the length of two Paw Patrol episodes. But due to a recent surgery, a broken wrist and seven (yes, count them: SEVEN) weeks of suffering through various head colds and the flu, I found a newly redeveloped talent: the ability to sit still and pay attention to printed words. However, I realize that not every parent has the luxury of sitting on their couch for hours on end, so the following recommendations can be enjoyed in snippets, too!

Books:

Act Like It When I received the iBooks email with the phrase “free books” in it, I didn’t know I was going down a rabbit hole of romance novels, but this book is well-written and a good read, which I discovered after two shout-outs, one on Book Riot and one on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. After reading this, I’ve read a lot of BAD romance novels and I’ll tell you, this one is rare: good, an interesting plot with real-life characters. Trust me.

Dumplin’ If you enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, you will like this book. It’s YA fiction at its best: it doesn’t insult your intelligence and portrays teenage characters in a realistic way.

Hag-Seed Totally and completely different than the previous two recommendations, this is a highly entertaining book by Margaret Atwood. It’s her reinterpretation of The Tempest and you don’t have to remember the original (or even have read) to enjoy it.

We Live in Water I don’t usually enjoy short story collections, but this one by Jess Walter is so, so good. The first story is probably my favorite – it’s gut-punching, magnificent writing and the PWN is lucky to have such a talented writer.

And if you’re not in the mood for books right now, here are a few podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately:

Podcasts:

Crimetown Go behind the scenes of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island, with this fascinating look at a larger-than-life mayor and the mob. After each episode, you’ll marvel that this is a true story.

Missing Richard Simmons I didn’t even know Richard Simmons was missing, but that doesn’t matter. Why did he disappear? Why haven’t his closest friends heard from him? And will the mystery be solved by the end of the season? I need answers. NOW.

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Election Day

Tomorrow. Election Day. Dread. Horror.

And a little bit of gallows humor. I had the good fortune of attending a Norah Jones concert a few weeks ago, and it was wonderful. She is a gifted performer and surprised us all with this hilarious and perfectly timed song.

My Dear Country

Lyrics:

‘Twas Halloween, and the ghosts were out
And everywhere they’d go, they shout
And though I covered my eyes, I knew
They’d go away
But fear’s the only thing I saw
And three days later ’twas clear to all
That nothing is as scary as election day
But the day after is darker
And darker and darker it goes
Who knows, maybe the plans will change
Who knows, maybe he’s not deranged
The news men know what they know, but they
Know even less than what they say
And I don’t know who I can trust
For they come what may
‘Cause we believed in our candidate
But even more it’s the one we hate
I needed someone I could shake
On election day
But the day after is darker
And deeper and deeper we go
Who knows, maybe it’s all a dream
Who knows if I’ll wake up and scream
I love the things that you’ve given me
I cherish you, my dear country
But sometimes I don’t understand
The way we play
I love the things that you’ve given me
And most of all that I am free
To have a song that I can sing
On election day

 

Thanks for reading Day 7 of NaBloPoMo! NaBloPoMo November 2016

Read other NaBloPoMo posts here:
Day 6: Daddy’s Boys
Day 5: I’ll Just Leave This Here
Day 4: 2016 Book Lovers’ Gift Guide
Day 3: Once Upon a Hong Kong Winter
Day 2: Parenting Hacks
Day 1: Created Equal 

The Most Heartbreaking Comedy

Amazon Prime is currently streaming a hilarious and very NSFW comedy called Catastrophe. It’s hilarious and very raunchy. It’s also very touching.

Episode 4, though, made me cry and cry and cry. Sharon gets the news that based on genetic testing, there is a 1 in 25 chance that her baby has Down Syndrome. I was transported back to last year, when I had genetic testing, when all my husband and I could do was cry and ask ourselves hard questions.

And then we got good news, again and again, and could breathe again. Watching this episode, I re-lived all of those ups and downs all over again. But I couldn’t look away. It was a thoughtful, funny and spot-on examination of this extremely fraught time in a pregnant woman’s life. Bravo, Catastrophe. I can’t wait for Season 2.

Friday Reads

A heartbreaking and inspiring essay by a doctor who just passed away from lung cancer. 

You might change your views on poverty after reading this very thoughtful essay by an author and Pulitzer Prize winner who is very poor himself. 

Check out this informative article if you’re curious about losing weight or exercising more, with a little help from your iPhone: Life After Cancer: How the iPhone Helped Me Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle 

And if you’re trying to lose weight post pregnancy, this week-by-week post-pregnancy fitness trainer program looks really helpful (and really, really hard!). 

And speaking of a healthier lifestyle: this one ingredient ice cream (spoiler alert – it’s bananas!) looks delicious. 

Looking for a laugh out loud TV show to fill the large gaping hole left by Parks & Rec? I suggest The Last Man on Earth. Seriously funny. Check out a review here.

Up in the Air

Help me settle a debate.

If you’ve seen Up in the Air, what happens at the end of the movie?

Right now, the polls are split 50/50. All of the women I’ve asked agree that he chooses a destination from the list of cities and flies away from his job to a happier life. All of the men I’ve asked agree that he flies back to the job he’s had, to the same life he’s been living.

So, which is it?

And in case you care as much as I do, here’s the movie’s creator talking about the ending.

The Dream of the ’90s

Stop what you’re doing and set your DVR to record Hindsight. Or go to VH1 online and stream it there. You will be transported back the ’90s in a split second and if you’re like me, you’ll be dancing to the music and wondering if your sunflower dress and choker necklace are somewhere in the back of a closet.

Ok, I admit the premise of this show is a little unbelievable, but we loved Battlestar Galactica and Alf, so…

None of us are going to be transported back in time and get the chance for a do-over. But what would you do if it did happen to you? Becca finds out that knowing the future doesn’t always work out for the best and complicates her life in ways she couldn’t imagine. And because it’s set in the ’90s, there’s all sorts of nostalgia in fashion, music and lack of smart phones. What would we do without our iPhones? Use pay phones and check out VHS tapes!

I hope you like the hop back in time as much as me. Happy watching.

Serial

Need something incredibly addicting to listen to? Download the Serial podcast and prepare to be mesmerized. I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon but it’s not too late to catch up. If you like This American Life and true crime stories, this podcast is for you.

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks is one of the only things I’m looking forward to when I go back to work next month.