Person reading a book on a train in winter
Here’s everything that kept us entertained in February. (Photo: Karyna Bartashevich/Stocksy)

Everything Our Editors Loved in February

‘Normal Gossip,’ a book about navigation, and ‘Abbott Elementary’

Person reading a book on a train in winter
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In the final month of winter, Outside editors cozied up with books and articles to learn more about faith, timing, and gas-station grub. Here’s everything that kept us entertained in February.

What We Read

In the past couple of years, my backcountry excursions have gotten a bit more ambitious—both backpacking in the summer and ski touring in the winter. While apps like Gaia GPS have been super helpful for navigation, it made me nervous to be so reliant on a dot on a screen, especially on longer trips, when keeping my phone charged was often a challenge. My partner gave me a perfectly timed present last Christmas: Essential Wilderness Navigationby wilderness-skills educators Craig Caudill and Tracy Trimble. The book is extremely easy to follow, guiding readers through everything from reading symbols and contours on topo maps, to the difference between true north and magnetic north, to using the night sky or flora and fauna to orient yourself. It also embraces GPS and apps like Gaia, unlike some traditionalist navigation guides, with a whole chapter on how to use a GPS app in tandem with a topo map and compass. I went on a seven-day hut trip in Colorado’s San Juans earlier this month, and the skills I’ve been learning in Essential Wilderness Navigation made me confident I could get to the next hut even if my phone died or fell down a steep slope. —Luke Whelan, senior editor

As someone who grew up Christian and left the church in search of more universal, welcoming views, I’ve never been interested in diving back into any kind of theological text. But a very liberal, hard-thinking friend recommended Richard Rohr—an American Franciscan priest and writer on spirituality—so I figured I’d give him a shot. While his book The Universal Christ doesn’t have me interested in converting, he does present a compelling reimagination of what the Christian faith could be were it injected with more compassion and reverence for the world around us. Rohr is a wonderful writer and thinker, presenting ideas clearly and with the support of a wide range of religious and historical texts. If you’re generally curious about modern religion, his work is worth engaging with. And if you’re involved with the Christian church, I can’t recommend him highly enough. —Abigail Barronian, associate editor

In February, I took a few minutes every morning before plunging into work to read Daniel H. Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink’s exploration of the research on cycles and scheduling was a welcome reminder that all time is not created equal, that the art of choosing when to do something can be more important than deciding what to do. I’ve applied the science to my daily schedule to increase productivity with less stress (including guilt-free, early-afternoon run or walk breaks) and have appreciated the perspective on the normal stages and emotions of projects, relationships, and life. Knowing all this is normal hasn’t erased my midlife ennui, but it has given me hope that the future holds the upward-trending half of life’s happiness U curve, and focusing on the nuances of the passing hours, days, and years has increased my mindfulness and gratitude. —Jonathan Beverly, senior running editor

I now have an extended lineup of reading and viewing and listening material all mapped out, thanks to this list of final nominees and winners from the American Society of Magazine Editors’ 2022 awards. You can peruse categories that include podcasts, videos, fiction, feature writing, essays, profiles, and more. I’m most looking forward to the Epicurious video “How to Serve Every Cheese,” the Eater article “Filling Up,” on gas-station fare, and the ESPN.com profile “Is Jake Paul Bad for Boxing? Next Question,” just because that headline is already entertaining and I’m sure a colorful story will follow. —Tasha Zemke, copy editor

What We Listened To

This month I breezed through the first season of Normal Gossip, a new podcast from Defector, hosted by Kelsey McKinney and produced by Alex Sujong Laughlin. The premise of the show is pure delight: McKinney shares the play-by-play of an anonymized, messy story (submitted by a listener or friend of a friend) with a guest, and they dissect and analyze the details together. The first season’s guest roster is heavy on comedians, podcasters, and other very online media types, including Laci MosleyJosh Gondelman, and Delia Cai, which makes for highly entertaining listening. At first I was skeptical that thirdhand gossip about total strangers would be as entertaining as the real deal, but more than one episode sent me running to text my friends about what I’d just heard. —Molly Mirhashem, digital deputy editor

When the band Animal Collective announces a new release, my mind often fills with the same questions: Will this one be soothing or chaotic? Will it feature short pop songs or meandering soundscapes? Which members will even be on it, and will they play instruments or samplers? And of all these options, what do I even want? After many years, though, I’ve learned to stop asking and appreciate that the group keeps making sounds for us at all—even if its records will never have quite the same impact as Sung Tongs, Feels (eloquently described by associate editor Daniella Byck in last month’s staff picks), or Merriweather Post Pavilion. Animal Collective’s new album, Time Skiffs, captures a group that’s never been a typical band but sounds closer to one here. There are grooves to nod along to and textures to fill up your speakers, and on the whole, it’s surprisingly unsurprising nice music, which is not a bad thing at all. —Jon Ver Steegh, digital project manager

What We Watched

As a perennial TV rewatcher, I tend to cycle through the same five shows. But when friends started hyping up Abbott Elementary on ABC, I was intrigued by the premise of a humorous mockumentary following teachers at a Philadelphia school. The recommendation did not disappoint: I’m unashamed to admit I watched all nine episodes in a single night. (Each episode runs 22 minutes, so this “feat” took less than four hours.) Quinta Brunson, the show’s creator, leads an ensemble cast that seamlessly oscillates between moments of levity while showcasing the struggles teachers face working in an underfunded school. But the standout character of the series is Abbott Elementary’s candid, TikTok–ing principal, played by comedian Janelle James. The show has definitely found a spot in my repeat-watch rotation. —Daniella Byck, associate editor

Lead Photo: Karyna Bartashevich/Stocksy

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