The books, movies, music, and podcasts we couldn't stop talking about
February felt like an especially short month (sorry, we’re short on jokes). But we still managed to pack in some great new culture discoveries.
What We Read
Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship, by journalist Kayleen Schaefer, examines the reality of female friendship and breaks down the stereotypes that women have shallow bonds formed around competition and pettiness. The title speaks for itself: I constantly say those exact words to my friends when we part ways or to my sister when she goes out for a run alone. More female-driven stories than ever—from Big Little Lies to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—are getting their due respect, and Schaefer’s work is a great addition to this trend (and your bookshelf).
—Abbey Gingras, social media editorial assistant
Did you know that Geronimo's real name was Goyahkla, which means “One Who Yawns?” Neither did I. The Apache Wars by Paul Andrew Hutton is a marvel of the writer and historian’s knowledge of the West. It follows the kidnapping of a red-haired child, Mickey Free, who was raised by the Apache and would later become a dangerous tool for the U.S. Army in their effort to hunt and capture Geronimo. Hutton does a great job—although it sometimes becomes a bit overwhelming—intertwining the histories and stories of other Apache leaders like Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, Chochise, as well as special appearances from frontiersmen like Kit Carson.
—J. Weston Phippen, senior editor
I’d heard a lot of good things about the novel Americanah by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, so I picked it up. It’s an excellent cultural exchange that is totally worthy of the praise. What stood out for me were the descriptions of Lagosian lifestyle and the often baffling experiences that immigrants have after they arrive in the U.S.
—Tasha Zemke, copy editor
Everyone should read Tad Friend’s recent New Yorker profile of Donald Glover, the writer, star, and creator of FX’s Atlanta. Not only is is a revealing portrait of a complicated artist, but it is a master class in nonfiction writing. It’s the kind of story that makes other editors and journalists jealous. Or maybe that’s just me.
—Nick Hunt, associate editor
What We Listened To
As Outside’s murder podcast connoisseur (context here), I have to recommend the Atlanta Monster podcast. This one explores the Atlanta Child Murders, in which 28 victims, primarily African-American children, were killed or went missing from poor neighborhoods in the city from 1979 to 1981. Though Wayne Williams is often thought of as responsible for these crimes, he was actually convicted of the murders of two adults, which raises the question: is Williams guilty or did the Atlanta Monster go free? The show comes from the makers of Up and Vanished, another true crime podcast that I’d highly recommend. The producers excel in talking to a variety of guests, from near-victims to families of the deceased to officers who worked the case to Williams himself. I’ve binged on the first ten episodes and plan to immediately download the next when it’s released on Thursday.
—Abigail Wise, online managing editor
Since its release on February 23, I’ve been listening to Darlingside’s new album Extralife on loop. About nine years ago, the members of Darlingside were recent college grads, just figuring out if they could make a band work. In Extralife, they let us know that they're grown up now, fully formed, if still evolving. “Hold Your Head Up High” and “Singularity” highlight the group's beautiful harmonies, reminding me “God of Loss” from an earlier album, Birds Say. In this way, Darlingside continues to meld chamber music and pop and folk-rock to powerful effect—it’s original and beautiful and I look forward to seeing how they continue to grow.
—Cate Costley, editorial fellow
Parts of cycling Twitter hate him. Some real-life cyclists still seem to hate him. And much of the media certainly isn’t a fan. But I’ve always loved Lance Armstrong’s cycling commentary, and I’ve been eager for his cycling-focused podcast, Stages, to return. Lucky for me, a new episode just dropped. It’s only February, but he somehow has me excited for the Tour de France already.
—Scott Rosenfield, digital general manager
I should definitely be embarrassed to admit that I’ve just been listening to “God's Plan” by Drake for the past few weeks, but that’s the truth. I promise I’ll up my podcast game for March.
—Molly Mirhashem, associate editor
What We Watched and Otherwise Experienced
As I’m planning my first trip to Iceland, I've been obsessing over everything that can possibly help me save for the trip faster. I use Qapital for short-term savings and highly recommend it, but I discovered a new favorite this month. Joy is a savings app that gives you the opportunity to reflect on purchases by rating them as either happy or sad spends. It tracks this data so you can see trends in your spending, and hopefully prioritize making happier purchases. It also analyzes your spending relative to your income to suggest small, safe, “daily spends.” These daily spends are usually no more than three dollars, but saving a tiny bit every day truly adds up.
—Jenny Earnest, social media manager
I spent February hobbling into training mode for a trail race, which means I am now spending a lot of time talking myself down from race-day nerves. (Race day is in June. I know I have a problem.) But there is one competitive event that has soothed me this month: the Westminster Dog Show. Specifically, this five-minute clip of Biggie the pug, a very sturdy, moony-eyed little guy who deserved Best in Show (how did a bichon frisé win?) and who will get me through many a stressful day in the months to come.
—Erin Berger, senior editor
If you like music, whatever genre, you need to watch the PBS multi-episode documentary American Epic. It traces the roots of music by following the record industry's push into the deep corners of American culture in the 1920s, when portable and electric recording was a new invention. This allowed labels to draw local artist from the places like the backwoods of Virginia, where they recorded the Carter Family, who gave birth to country and folk; or to the Mississippi Delta, where they recorded a man named Charley Patton, who created the sound (the Delta Blues, the best music in my humble opinion) that Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry helped turn into rock n’ roll. Robert Redford narrates. And Jack White has a hand in it all. The last episode is a special treat.
I just saw Darkest Hour, a movie about England at the beginning of World War II. Gary Oldman is phenomenal as Winston Churchill, and the inside look at the stressful days leading up to the decision of whether to pursue a peace deal with Hitler or fight to the bitter end is riveting. The cinematography is stunning, too. I didn't want it to end.
—Mary Turner, deputy editor
I started watching The Killing, the American adaptation of a Danish murder mystery television series, on Netflix this month—and I'm already on season three. The acting, especially by leads Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos, is great and the setting is very Twin Peaks-y, if that's your thing. I'm not actually into all the gray rainy moodiness of Washington state but I am very into Kinnaman’s swagger and Enos’s crinkly eyes.
—Svati Narula, assistant social manager