The books, movies, music, and podcasts we couldn't stop talking about last month
After reading (and writing) too many best-of-2017 lists, we’re in recovery mode and kicking off our year with fresh discoveries and old favorites.
What We Read
I’m reading The Comfort Food Diaries, a memoir by TwitterFriend™ Emily Nunn, a former editor at the New Yorker and other great places. It’s about how food and cooking helped her through a crisis-filled time in her life: a busted engagement, a brother who died, and a lapse into alcoholism. I’m not that far in, but it’s a good read so far. Emily has a great voice and is very honest about the trouble that temporarily overwhelmed her.
—Alex Heard, editorial director
I’m in the midst of Caroline Fraser’s Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, a new biography of the iconic pioneer girl who went on to become the beloved children’s book author. What I love about Fraser’s approach is that she’s interested in not only illuminating the nuances and complexities of Laura’s life, but also showing how an individual woman’s story can teach us a great deal about the larger themes and forces at play in America at the time. Yes, this book is perfect for anyone who’s passionate about women’s history and marginalized narratives (like me!), but it’s also a compelling story for anyone who cares about the West’s history and the mythology of the American dream.
—Cate Costley, editorial fellow
For Christmas, my girlfriend gave me a copy of The History of Fly-Fishing in Fifty Flies by Ian Whitelaw. It starts in the 1600s with the palmerworm, a classic pattern still used today, and I’m spending the off-season slowly working my way through the centuries, learning a lot about how the sport has changed and how it hasn’t.
—Nicholas Hunt, associate editor
I’m always a few years behind the new releases, so I’m sure most of you, our well-read readers, have already come across Behind the Beautiful Forevers. If you haven’t, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy. This is one of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever read. The author, Katherine Boo, spent six years reporting from Mumbai, India, to create a nonfiction masterpiece that reads like one of the great novels. The empathy and vividness of this book brought me to tears multiple times. I couldn’t put it down.
—Axie Navas, executive editor
What We Listened To
I’ve been actively trying to go to bed earlier, but melatonin gives me nightmares and tea just doesn’t do the trick. Then I found Sleep with Me, an hour-long podcast in which the host tells a long, meandering, and often dull story as you drift off. His voice is soothing and calm—I’ve actually never managed to stay awake for an entire episode.
—Abigail Wise, online managing editor
This month I discovered my new favorite podcast: Millennial Money*, hosted by financial guru Shannah Compton Game. I’d recommend starting with the episode on budgeting for your life, not your bank account. It’s already revolutionized the way I budget for all the climbing and snowboarding trips I’m planning this year.
*Note: Not just for millennials!
—Jenny Earnest, social media manager
What We Watched
A landline is a throwback communication technology, and Vans’ first snowboarding film of the same name pays homage to the history of snowboarding films. Captured on Kodak 16mm with Arriflexes and Bolexes, Landline is a beautiful film tied together with tastefully avant-garde music and editing—not to mention creative, style-drenched, progressive riding from a heavy-hitting team. Highlights include a curved 40-stair boardslide from Cole Navin, legends Bryan Iguchi and Jamie Lynn (including John Cardiel, back on a snowboard after a life-changing accident), and insanely graceful backcountry riding from Blake Paul, Arthur Longo, and Pat Moore. For a look at the hard work behind this two-year project, you can watch Landline on iTunes or Vimeo.
—Chris Thompson, visual producer
I saw my first fish ladder on a recent visit to Seattle. Though there were no jumping salmon this time of year, all I could think about afterward was how badly I wanted to rewatch The Super Salmon, a 25-minute documentary from Ryan Peterson about one king salmon’s unbelievable Alaskan adventure. It goes beyond your wildest expectations of how funny a film about fish can be, tells a legitimate environmental story, and features brilliant human characters as well. It’s probably the only true screen-based cure for winter doldrums. (And you can watch the whole thing here.)
—Erin Berger, senior editor