Jez

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Therapist Lori Gottlieb invites us into her office in her engaging memoir, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed (2019). She balances the book with snapshots of her journey to becoming a therapist (making many career pit stops along the way), sessions with her clients, and the very personal interactions she has with her own therapist. Among the patients who left the strongest impression on Gottlieb are a high-powered TV writer, an elderly woman battling her past mistakes, a 20-something who constantly chooses the wrong men, and a newlywed just diagnosed with a deadly cancer, all of whose stories are at turns heartbreaking and hopeful.

What I found most interesting was the author's experience of being a therapist who is also in therapy, which allows the reader to see the interactions from both sides of the couch, noting that even when someone spends their whole career discussing emotional issues, they can be blind to some of their own struggles. This beautiful memoir is highly recommended for both those looking for an uplifting story and those who want a good cry.


Jez

Pose. Season 1

Set in the late 1980s New York, Pose (rated TV-MA) looks at ballroom culture and the height of the AIDS epidemic.  Not familiar with ball culture?  A major tenant of the LGBTQ community and especially popular with African-American, Latinx, and gender-nonconforming people, balls were where marginalized LGBTQ individuals could be wholly themselves while also competing in runway challenges.  Competitors would show off their elaborate costumes, dance skills, voguing, and, yes, posing, promising jaw-dropping realness in every episode of Pose.

The series revolves around a trans Latina woman, Blanca (MJ Rodriguez), who has decided to make a name for herself by starting the House of Evangelista and taking in some lost souls to join her in competing for top prizes.  She starts by recruiting Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain), saving him from a life on the streets and pushing him to attend a top dance school, and Angel (Indya Moore), a transwoman and prostitute, who begins a secret affair with Wall Street exec, Stan (Evan Peters).

Full of drama, fashion, glamour, vicious wordplay, heartbreak, and hope, this Golden Globe-winning series is not to be missed. Catch the first season of Pose (2018), now on Netflix, by checking out one of our Rokus.


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Jez

A Prince on Paper

Nya is the cousin of Naledi, the new queen of the African country of Thesolo, and the daughter of a diplomat now in prison, and she is starting to learn who she is outside of the shadow of her family. When Naledi's big royal wedding approaches, Nya gets paired up with the only other single member of the wedding party, the playboy "prince" of a small European country. Johan is the half-brother of the heir to the Liechtienbourg throne, but the people are voting on whether or not they want to keep the royal family. When Johan needs to appear more charming in the eyes of the media and Nya wants to shock those around her, the two turn an awkward misunderstanding into a fake engagement announcement. Now, even though they don't see eye to eye, they need to pretend to be in love for the cameras, but things get complicated as feelings become real.

Following A Princess in Theory and A Duke by Default, A Prince on Paper (2019) is the third book in Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series. Though the series does not need to be read in order, this book is best appreciated if one first reads A Princess in Theory, to learn Nya's backstory. This is a highly enjoyable read with two winning leads and a captivating love story. I highly recommend Cole's entire series for anyone looking to get caught up in a whirlwind (fictional) romance.


Jez

Lover

Taylor Swift is back with her seventh album: Lover!  If Reputation was Taylor changing her style and going more in a pop direction, Lover is a bit of a course correction.  The new album feels like a combination of her upbeat pop anthems from 1989 and Reputation, but with the beautifully written, emotionally honest ballads from Red and her earlier work.

Some of my favorites are "Paper Rings" and "The Archer."  "The Man" is incredibly enjoyable and a refreshing push back against the media's portrayal of Taylor and her music, pointing out that what she is vilified for is exactly what earns her male contemporaries praise.  Some songs, such as "I Forgot That You Existed" are good, but grow on you with each consecutive listen. Overall, there's something enjoyable for everyone here and at least for the next couple of weeks, Lover (2019) will be on constant rotation in my home.

Listen immediately by borrowing the album on Hoopla!

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Jez

Millenneagram

You may have heard of the Enneagram, a system for sorting people into nine different categories, based on how they relate to the self, others, and the world at large. Enter Millenneagram: The Enneagram Guide for Discovering Your Truest, Baddest Self (2019), the updated enneagram for millennials (though you don't need to fall into that generation to enjoy this book). Filled with pop culture references and tongue-in-cheek humor, Hannah Paasch has transformed the classic personality test to appeal to the Buzzfeed generation.

My favorite pages are the meme-style charts depicting how the different numbers respond to situations like getting stuck in traffic. This guide breaks down the nine types into easy to understand descriptions that will help you better understand your loved ones, your coworkers, and your own emotions. Prepare to laugh out loud and be called out on your personal faults at the same time.

Jez

Good Omens (2019) TV-MA

Ever since humans were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the demon Crowley (David Tennant) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) have been ordered by their head offices to occasionally nudge humanity towards one side or the other.  Over the last six thousand years, they have made an agreement to handle the other's duties from time to time, realizing their efforts were canceling each other out.  Over time, they have grown quite fond of humanity and Earth and when the antichrist shows up (in the form of an 11-year-old boy), they try to save the world and put off the impending war between Heaven and Hell.

Meanwhile, there are parallel narratives with the antichrist Adam (Sam Taylor Buck) and his friends, a new recruit to the witchfinder army, and a woman whose family has been led by entirely accurate prophesies from an ancestor.

The stories of Good Omens cross paths multiple times to form a well-woven narrative web that is emotional and dramatic, but most of all, amusing. Bolstered by a phenomenal cast and written by literary genius Neil Gaiman, based on his book of the same title co-written with the late Terry Pratchett, this unusual love story is one you will immediately want to rewatch.

Don't have access to Amazon Prime?  Check out one of our roku devices for a week.

Already a fan of Good Omens?  Discover your next great book with these readalikes.


Jez

Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018)

Despite being published late in the year, Michelle Obama's Becoming was the bestselling book of 2018 and once you start reading, it's not hard to see why. Obama's first book is everything you could want from a memoir by the former First Lady. Starting well before her time in the White House, Obama describes her life living on the Southside of Chicago and having to work hard from a very young age in order to get ahead in her education, including testing into an elite school. Going through her early adulthood, readers learn about Obama's humanitarian efforts in various positions to help underprivileged students get a better education and fair chance in life, a value she carries into her life in Washington.

Perhaps the reason most readers will pick up this book is to read about the 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections and President Obama's terms in office. Michelle Obama does an excellent job of showing both the political and personal sides of life in the White House and having to navigate the nebulous position of a First Lady. Beautifully written and deeply personal, Becoming is the memoir to read this year. I highly recommend picking up the audiobook, read by the author, who could easily have a second career in audiobook narration if she chose.



Jez

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) PG

The newest Spider-Man movie, Into the Spider-Verse, is everything a Spidey fan could want.  It focuses on Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a Latinx high school student who is bitten by a radioactive spider.  Miles witnesses Spider-Man (Chris Pine) killed and knows he needs to complete the mission to stop Kingpin from using a massive collider to merge alternate universes, destroying the city—maybe the world—in the process.  He has no idea how to use his new powers until another Spider-Man, Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), shows up, pulled in from another dimension during the collider's test.

Over their mission, Miles meets four more Spider-people, all of them trying to save the multiverse and get back home.  The art style is comic-inspired and a colorful treat.  The story is filled with joy, hope, laughter, loss, and belief in one's self.  At the end, you'll be beaming with pride over Miles—and don't be surprised if you're starting the movie over to watch again immediately.

And wait, there's more… come back in July to see Heather's take on this movie!

Jez

How to Be Successful without Hurting Men’s Feelings by Sarah Cooper (2018)

Comedian and comedy writer Sarah Cooper is at it again, this time with a book of "non-threatening leadership strategies for women." This faux guide is comprised of infographic-style comics, lists, matching games, and emergency mustaches. Filled with tongue-in-cheek humor and sarcasm, How to Be Successful without Hurting Men's Feelings can teach you how to carefully maneuver the office, allow men to get credit for your ideas, and be seen as a boss, but not bossy; confident, but not arrogant. This book is a must-read for feminists and women in business and is the perfect way to end a bad day at work.




Jez

Mamma Mia! (2008) & Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Based on the hit Broadway musical of the same name, Mamma Mia! follows a young woman named Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who is about to get married, and wants to invite her birth father, but first she needs to find out who he is. Her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), first came to Greece in her early 20s, and, according to a diary Sophie finds, was with three men around the time of Sophie's conception. In an effort to find out the truth, she invites all three to her wedding.

In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we find Sophie working to transform her mother's Greek villa into a bed & breakfast. She wants to make the grand opening as spectacular as possible to honor Donna's memory. Though a sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, focuses a lot of its time on Donna's youth, showing a younger version (Lily James) first coming to Greece and meeting the three men later questioned to be Sophie's father.

Both films exist in the fantastical world where every moment leads to breaking out in a hit ABBA song. Fans of the Swedish superstars have a lot to love here, with Mamma Mia prominently featuring many of their biggest hits from their Gold album and the sequel finding lesser known, but still enjoyable songs. Featuring an all-star cast, including Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, and Julie Walters, these musicals make a light and enjoyable double feature.

Jez

The Finnish Way by Katja Pantzar (2018)

In 2017, Meik Wiking introduced us to Hygge (and later Lykke) and helped us bring more happiness and comfort to our lives and launching a trend of books on Scandinavian wisdom. Sweden's answer to the Danish hygge was Lagom by Niki Brantmark, focused on simplicity, and now we complete the trifecta with the Finnish.

Like its neighbors, Finland experiences winters with little sunlight (some areas like Lapland seeing as many as 47 days where the sun never makes it above the horizon), creating a serious concern for Seasonal Affect Disorder and depression among its residents. Yet in 2018, Finland ranked #1 on the world happiness index. What's their secret? According to Katja Pantzar, it's the concept of "sisu," which can be roughly translated as "everyday courage."

In her book The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness through the Power of Sisu, Pantzar describes many aspects of life in Finland, including biking everywhere (even in winter), getting out into nature, seeing movement as a kind of medicine, arctic swimming, and, naturally, using the sauna regularly. Together these traits form the type of sturdiness and courage the Finns need to face endless night and any challenge that comes their way.

Jez

Astrology: Using the Wisdom of the Stars in Your Everyday Life (2018)

astroPerhaps due to so much stress and uncertainty in the world today, astrology is seeing a huge burst in popularity, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. DK Publishing’s new book, Astrology: Using the Wisdom of the Stars in Your Everyday Life, is a great introduction for those who want to move beyond their star sign. With beautiful infographics on each page, this guide walks readers through sun, moon, and rising signs; planetary placements; and the historical significance of astrology.

The part I found most helpful was the straightforward way this book explains how to create and read a natal chart and what the significance of each house is—and how all of these aspects work together to create a tool to help readers understand themselves better and potentially better inform decisions for the future.

Interested in astrology or just want to learn enough to understand the memes? Hang out with us next Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m. for our #LibSocial program for ages 18-39: Astrology 101: What Planet Can I Blame for This?
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Jez

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (2018)

proposalNik Paterson has been dating her actor boyfriend for five months, and not very seriously, so she’s taken completely by surprise when he proposes to her at a Dodgers game…on the scoreboard…in front of thousands of people. Nik tries to tell him she can’t—he doesn’t even know her well enough to spell her name correctly, after all—but her boyfriend storms off angrily, making Nik the center of a big scene. A few rows back, Carlos Ibarra and his sister, Angie, are watching everything on the jumbotron and the two come to Nik’s rescue by pretending to be old friends of hers.

After the game, Nik and Carlos start finding excuses to see each other, though neither is looking for anything serious. But as time goes on, feelings start to develop and rules start to break, and Nik needs to get out before she gets too attached.

Filled with lots of humor, I loved this romantic comedy for its well-rounded characters, realistic reactions and situations, and the charming love story at the center. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (author of The Wedding Date) is a great read for anyone looking for a fun, sexy—and believable—romance. And for more—check out our list of romantic comedies!

https://ippl.info/books-movies-more/76-book-lists/1807-all-time-faves-romantic-comedies
Jez

Tag (2018) R

91dceafsxzl-_sx342_If you want an action movie with low stakes, look no further than TagBased on a true story, five friends have been playing the same game of tag since childhood.  Now in their mid-30s, these men dedicate a month each year to continuing the game, pulling all kinds of tricks in order to tag someone.  A reporter from The Wall Street Journal is doing a piece on Bob (Jon Hamm) when he’s tagged and decides the game is the more interesting story.

One friend, Jerry (Jeremy Renner), has never once been it, so the other four are determined to make this the year it finally happens.  Full of ridiculous action scenes that beautifully spoof Renner’s other movies, this is a fun film with lots of recognizable comedy faces, including Ed Helm, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, and Isla Fisher.

 
Jez

The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King (2018)

good-neighborIf you grew up any time between 1968 and 2001, there’s a good chance that Fred Rogers was your childhood. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a slow, peaceful show about friendship and learning, with a kindly gentleman and his friends and a world of make believe. There’s a certain amount of make believe surrounding Rogers himself, with rumors spreading quickly across the internet, especially one about him being a navy seal. The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King—the first authorized biography of Rogers—aims to set the record straight: Fred Rogers was precisely the man you imagined him to be, based off his television persona. But he was also so much kinder and maybe a little stranger than we thought.

King’s biography covers the entirety of Rogers’ life, drawing on television appearances; interviews with Rogers, his family, and his coworkers; and his own personal friendship with the man. In these pages, you’ll learn how Rogers contributed and changed the face of early childhood education, his past as an opera author, what he was like as a parent, and some great behind-the-scenes stories from the many shows he did over the years.

For an extra dose of nostalgia, pick up the audiobook, read by LeVar Burton. When you’re done with the book, check out the movie based on the book, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?