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Culture Notebook

Everything Our Editors Loved in July

The books, movies, podcasts, music, and more that our editors couldn't stop talking about this month

How we wanted to spend most of July. (Jeremy Bishop)

The books, movies, podcasts, music, and more that our editors couldn't stop talking about this month

In case you were waiting with bated breath after last month’s update: we’re doing better! We got some rain and some forest re-openings! In case you only came here to get ideas for your reading and podcast list, we won’t delay any longer.

What We Read

I'm just gonna say it. Fit Men Cook is my new favorite website. I came across it a couple weekends ago  searching for "healthy breakfast recipes," and stumbled upon this glorious, extremely savory Healthy Breakfast Hash, which was so delicious that it will from this point forward be a weekend go-to. Then this past Saturday, tempted to make the hash again, I went directly to the site and browsed through the archive only to find these Chipotle Fajita Steak Rolls. They not only made an outstanding dinner packed with flavor, but the prep made for a winning Instagram story, too. Double whammy!

—Jenny Earnest, social media manager

I’m in the middle of reading Michael Paterniti’s The Telling Room, a story about a cheesemaker on a quest for revenge. You enter another world on the Spanish countryside with Paterniti—one that neither author nor reader wants to leave.

—Will Gordon, assistant editor

Studies show that viewing nature imagery reduces stress, improves cognition, and aids recovery. So for the past few days, I’ve been keeping Trees in Art by Charles Watkins on hand for mini breaks throughout the day. Like most art books, this survey of Western arboreal depictions is visually rich and perfectly skimmable, so it’s ideal for small doses of pastoral groves and ancient arboreal sentinels. Am I still stressed out of my mind? Most definitely. But I do feel a bit calmer, more focused, and less bent out of shape. I’ll take it.

—Aleta Burchyski, associate managing editor

What We Listened To

I binged on ESPN's latest 30 for 30 Podcast, a five-part series on the rise and fall of Bikram Choudhury’s hot yoga empire. My wife was a longtime Bikram instructor who once received a cease and desist letter from Choudhury’s headquarters for having the gall to teach a hot yoga class in Los Angeles that didn’t adhere to the guru’s infamously strict rules on script and pose order. She also attended his now notorious instructors course. The podcast offers a deeply reported look into Choudhury’s cult of personality, his fabricated backstory, and the sexual assault allegations that ultimately brought him down.

—Chris Keyes, editor

As Outside’s unofficial true crime critic, I’m here with another fantastic investigative podcast, Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo. Season two of Missing & Murdered centers on a young Cree girl who disappeared at age 13 in the '70s after being taken against her will into foster care. CBS reporter Connie Walker dives deep into Cleo’s story, as well as the larger, disturbing history of government officials separating indigenous families. Through an informative step-by-step podcast, Walker helps Cleo’s biological siblings solve the mystery of their missing sister.

—Abigail Wise, online managing editor

I’ve been listening to Kamasi Washington’s Heaven and Earth, which I’d recommend to all music fans. It’s a jazz album, but Washington is also influenced by funk and hip hop. (He made an appearance on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly.) Just put it on and listen all the way through.

—W.G.

What We Watched or Otherwise Experienced

I have a houseplant with thick, wavy, watercolor leaves—it is beautiful, and it is my greatest source of pride, since it’s the only thing I’ve managed to keep alive for more than a year. But Google has never been able to tell me the species of my precious plant, nor could any of the top plant-identification apps I tried, until I downloaded the suspicious-looking MyGardenAnswers. Like many similar apps, this one lets you take or submit a photo, but it must draw from a more comprehensive database, because it immediately identified my special, rare plant. (Peperomia clusiifolia, tricolor variety.) I’ve been enjoying my new role as annoying, plant-identifying friend on hikes and public outings.

—Erin Berger, senior editor

J.K. Rowling’s Twitter feed. See tweets for justification.

—Svati Narula, associate social media editor

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