Read | Watch | Listen – August 2013

Even though we’re a bit unsure as to who actually reads/enjoys these, we like to share the experiences we had in the month, and media and reading happens to be a big part of it. We’re by no means experts on any of these, but want to let anyone in on what we like to read, watch, and listen and hope you will enjoy or learn from some of these things as well. Enjoy!


Love Wins – Rob Bell (JB) – I’ve heard a lot of controversy about this book since it came out a few years ago but no one could give me a straight answer as to what was so upsetting about the book. Rob Bell always makes people uncomfortable and makes people think and I love it so I decided to check it out myself. The book asks some questions about universalism (or belief to some extent that Christ’s death and grace covers the sins of all people and not just those who have accepted his grace).

Bell’s line of questioning provokes some great thought and I think the book is a good read no matter what you believe, as long as you can question and doubt without getting angry at the author. I had fun with it and none of the questions are questions I haven’t heard before. It’s a super fast read and toys with the idea that people who are stuck on getting to heaven (or Christians who choose Christianity as a sort of hell insurance) are too concerned with eternity as an afterlife and spend no time helping those who are in very real hells now on Earth.

2030 – Albert Brooks (JB) – Most dystopian fiction was written 50-100 years ago and takes place in the world the author predicts for our current time period. Brooks takes us 20 years into the future, into a world in which cancer has been cured. As great as that is, so much money is being spent on keeping elderly alive that America is bankrupt. A natural disaster put the country in a position where they have to sell an American city to a foreign power.

The book is very dark and very funny, it’s the young’s against the olds and the conservatives argue the value of life at the end of life instead of the beginning in this future. If there is way to keep someone alive, doing anything else would be murder. Keeping them alive, however, saddles younger generations with debt and no hope. I read/listened to the whisper sync version. In this version, the audiobook and e-book sync up so you can breeze through it in days. The narration was one of the best Ive heard.

Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerrman (April)– Since we watched the entirety of OitNB on Netflix this month, you know I became obsessed with it. Reading and learning about cults & microcosms is pretty high on my enjoyment list (is that weird?) and I was so fascinated by Piper’s experiences with prison. To my surprise, the TV series followed the book very closely, even to some of the dialogue. But I was glad that there weren’t any weird sex scenes to read about, since that takes up a bit of the show.

As I was nearing the end of the book, I realized that season 1 of the show also ended at a similar point. The book does go until her release, yes, but I’m wondering if the following seasons will just be springboarded by the book, because Piper’s entire story is pretty much summed up by season one. Definitely recommend this read.

The Walking Dead – Robert Kirkman(Comic) – If you’re excited about the new season of Walking Dead and can’t wait for the season to begin, check out Robert Kirkman’s comic book that started it all. It’s one of the best comics I’ve ever read and over 100 issues in, it’s still compelling. Kirkman writes with zero regard for his characters so readers can’t make justifications like, “Oh, he can’t die in this issue, he’s the main character.” With Kirkman, everyone is zombie bait, especially the characters you grow to love.


The Paperboy (April & JB)- We watched this one weeknight when we were Netflix-browsing and couldn’t tell if it was awful or brilliant. There’s some big names starring in it (Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConahey), and the story line was very intriguing, but SHEESH it was disturbing. Jon Cusack plays a strangely demented prisoner that’s trying to get his case appealed while having a semblance of a relationship with the Nicole Kidman character, among other things. I have never seen Jon in any role besides comedic, and to be honest–he kinda scared me. I’m all for avoiding type-casting, but I wish he wouldn’t have chosen a role to give me nightmares. The movie didn’t get good ratings and was sort of confusing because the leading actors gave such amazing performances in such a questionable story. I probably wouldn’t recommend this to any of my friends, but if you’re into weird, semi-sadistic Southern mysteries, be my guest.

Despicable Me 2 (April & JB)- I (April) absolutely loved the first movie, and was so excited when JB and Rickiea wanted to go see it, too. The characters in the films are just so darn loveable, and I love the adoption backstory, even if it is very improbable. You don’t need to have seen the first to enjoy the sequel, but it does give you a better idea on Gru’s background and why he’s turned his evil to good. Also–who doesn’t want minions for Christmas?? They’re the cutest, most efficient, mutant creatures I’ve ever seen.

Orange is the New Black (TV) (April&JB)

JB – April watched the first episode and made me watch it when I got home from work that day so we could binge on the series together. It is some of the most compelling television I’ve seen in a long time and I was excited to see Netflix take on bigger networks in such an impressive fashion.

April- I couldn’t stop watching. We seriously had a few moments of “we really need to get out of the house/go to bed/turn off the TV”, and it was a sigh of relief when we finished the season. If you have a netflix subscription and have not started this series, I highly recommend that you do so tonight. It is a little heavy on sex, just be warned.

Newsroom Season 2 – This season wasn’t as good as last season, but Jeff Daniels still won an Emmy for best lad in a drama. Being a family closely involved in reporting and news-gathering and huge Aaron Sorkin fans, it was still incredibly enjoyable.

Breaking Bad/Dexter/The Office – On shows ending (JB) – This year, The Office ended and Breaking Bad and Dexter are coming to an end. A lot of people are sad but I couldn’t be more excited. I love all three shows and appreciate the networks and show runners valuing my time enough to say, “We’re out of new ideas and want to end this on a good note,” instead of running the show through terrible story arcs until it no longer makes money. I wish we had even more series with a definite end in sight when they begin. A great short show I’ve enjoyed (and April has recently begun) is the BBC’s Sherlock. The show has two and three episode seasons that are incredible well scripted. It proves most story arcs could be cut by an episode or two.

That said, Dexter’s ending proved it should have ended three years ago and Breaking Bad was so tidy but and satisfying without being too easy.


So. Much. Radiolab. (April)- We started our half marathon training this month, and I get really sick of the music on my phone, trying to create a playlist, etc. So I downloaded lots of back issues of Radiolab and learned so much I never knew I needed to know. For example, did you know that you can use hookworm to help with allergies & asthma?? Many of you know I have bad allergies, and the argument was pretty compelling (not to mention low cost). Seriously, if you aren’t listening to Radiolab, you need to start now.

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