Listening, Watching, Reading

A list of recommendations

Happy Friday, friends. Here are my March recommendations on ideas and conversations worth listening to, watching, and reading.

What are you listening to, watching, and reading? Drop a comment or reply to this email directly with your recommendations.

I’ve never instinctively gravitated to audiobooks, not because I don’t like the format, but for the same reason I don’t typically read e-books — I like the feel of a physical book in my hands so much it never really occurred to me to try a different format. But since I knew I was going to be recording my own audiobook, I wanted to get a feel for how other authors have approached narrating their own books. I’d been meaning to read The Library Book for ages, so when I saw the audiobook version at my local library, I knew it was the perfect opportunity. Orlean tells the story of the devastating and unsolved 1986 Los Angeles Central Library fire that wiped out a good portion of the collection. The book is not just an arson whodunit, but an homage to the public library, with all its quirks and colorful characters, and a look to the author’s past and her relationship to both the library and the mother who whose love of libraries informed her own life. At about twelve hours, I expected the audiobook to take some time to get through and initially wasn’t sure I’d finish. But I was hooked by the second chapter and even began to look forward to the nightly dinner dishes and laundry folding, just so I could get a little bit further into it.

Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Harry. Even if you’re not into royal drama, it’s worth a watch just to see Oprah at her finest. She is gentle but firm in her probing, deliberate, skillful, and encouraging in her follow up questions, and an expert at reflecting back and summarizing what she’s hearing to validate what’s been said and open the space to say more.

Subscribe now

This was a real throwback of a read for me, as a former art history PhD candidate nostalgic for the art criticism Chayka cites in his exploration of what minimalism is and isn’t and how it works today. Chayka dissects the idea of minimalism so many of us have come to know — the mild, unobtrusive and easily generic decor of so many AirBnBs, condos, offices, and even restaurants (cue the “brass and fern” look); the “less is more” (to the point of austere) aesthetic; the sleek but somehow empty lifestyle branding pervasive on social media; and the Marie Kondo decluttering movement so popular it has become a verb (Kondo-ing). It’s a complicated read filled with tension between the minimalism we know and aspire to today and its cultural roots in art, music, and zen traditions of Japan. Each chapter builds on the other in winding ways, which may be disconcerting for some readers, but on the whole it works. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on silence and minimalism, which made me reflect on the soundscapes that make up my day-to-day, and how I relate to them.

For my book to arrive!

Listen Like You Mean It comes out at the end of the month, and I’m itching to get my hands on a copy. Usually an author would have seen and felt her book in her very own hands by now, but because of COVID I never got a real galley of my book (the almost-final book version sent out to press, influencers, and authors in advance of pub day). Waiting for pub day has meant an exercise in patience that can only be rivaled by a child waiting to open their gifts on Christmas day. Soon!

If you’d like a copy too, now is is the perfect time to place an order so it arrives on the big day, March 30th. And if you’re an audiophile, check out the audiobook version, narrated by yours truly. If you’ve already purchased, many thanks for your support!

Author, Listen Like You Mean It. UX researcher, TWTR, PINS, etc. I write about the intersection of technology + society + personal growth. ximenavengoechea.com

Author, Listen Like You Mean It. UX researcher, TWTR, PINS, etc. I write about the intersection of technology + society + personal growth. ximenavengoechea.com