2021 Favorites & Stats

I seem to be the last one to name favorites, but I wait until the last minute to gather the statistics and make sure I don’t forget a book (would I forget? have you even a clue how forgetful I am? That’s the secret reason why I keep a blog, folks!) and make sure to *not* finish another book at the end of the year.

I read a lot in 2021, even more than in 2020 which was already a personal record: 96 books… But shh, some of them are mangas which I devour in one afternoon apiece.

In retrospect, the theme of 2021 seems to have been “on repeat”. 2021 was the second year of the pandemic and I felt that not much new occurred, which is of course, not true. We are no longer in the “unprecedented times”, and I can’t say it’s a good or a bad thing. I might have transposed the feeling of “same old” into my literary choices: I wanted some continuity and some comfort, and so I read many books by the same authors. The truth is, I often say I would return to a beloved author and I rarely did… up to now. 5 books by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (!!), 4 by Simenon, 3 by Ann Cleeves, 3 by Elly Griffiths, 3 by Michael Connelly, and lots of pairs. I even tried parallel reading (2 books by the same author at the same time) and I will do it again.

I kept my review copies at a low level (only 13 books this year, well below the target I’d set, probably because I’ve become more selective with Netgalley) and managed to read 43 books from my own shelves. I read 10 short story collections, which is the same figure for the 3rd year (ugh…), but most of them were awesome (Between Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lily King and Margaret Atwood, don’t make me choose one) but I managed to bump up the number of Asian writers to 20, and the share of non-US/UK writers to 42% (in part, I confess, thanks to my love of mangas).

I’m glad to have read more non-fiction this year. This opened up new possibilities (investigative journalism! medicine books! historical true crime!) and I’m eager to continue in 2022. It was difficult to choose my favorite non-fiction this year (such a new feeling!): I eventually picked The Ratline by Philippe Sands, an investigation into the life and mysterious death of a Nazi dignitary.

In literary fiction, several titles have been dazzling. The first is a French classics (on the verge of non fiction even): Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014:

“for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

From the Nobel Prize page

A second title was a confirmation of an author I discovered with Station Eleven. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel was just as great: evocative and layered and a whole world that is difficult to sum up in a few short words.

The third title is a complete discovery (and a chance one at that, it was just a last minute grab from the library new acquisitions shelves!): Claire Keegan’s Foster was precious and emotional, and I loved every line of the writing.

I have not set any concrete goals for 2022 (yet) but at the very least I’ll read something by those 3 writers!

Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö, The Terrorists (1975)

And so it comes to an end… I wanted to complete it before the end of 2021 and so I did. Still, there’s something bittersweet to know that there won’t be another Martin Beck book after this one. It took me 11 years, one more than it took to t Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö to write it (and yes, I know now how to write their names without hesitation!) The characters grew on me, as they have grown on each other. I missed Lennart Kollberg in this book probably as much as Martin Beck (he retired, disgusted by the police as an institution). I loved seeing Rhea Nielsen and her relationship to Martin Beck blossom. Martin Beck says in this book that he’d needed 5 years to get to know Gunvald Larsson and 5 years to understand how he things, and that maybe they would be friends in another 5 years – and I do feel the same. Gunvald Larsson felt like an insufferable prick in previous episodes, and this one shows how brave and dedicated he actually is.

The main thesis (not even thinly veiled here) is that Sweden is in a state of moral decadence, that capitalism has created violence, greed, promoted incompetence and destroyed the sense of community. Of course, the 1970s were a dark decade. Indeed morale was low after the idealistic communist-utopia-fueled youth riots of the late 1960s. But were they as bad? (Ahem, I feel that it actually got much worse in the 1980s). Were Sjöwall and Wahlöö right to judge their country so harshly at that point of history? I can’t tell, but here in Europe Sweden has always been envied for its social-democrat, egalitarian and caring social system. Scandinavian countries are supposed to be fairer, moderate and more reasonable than southern states, and the plot of this book (as the rest of the series, and many Scandi-noir novels after that) is in stark contradiction with this image. Perhaps it’s because of the high expectation and the subsequent disillusion that the authors are so melancholy at the end of the book. It famously ends with the sentence “X like Karl Marx” (My translation from the French version). But when you know the state of the USSR in the 1970s…

I could write several posts about the story itself. There are a major plot involving terrorists (not the communist-inspired of the 1970s, but more like ultra-reactionary mercenaries sent across the globe to spark unrest and kill blindly – contrary to our modern Isis and Bataclan killers they strike terror by being ultra efficient and also totally devoid of ideology or religion), and two subplots highlighting how Swedish institutions fail the weak and the young. Contrary to normal procedurals, a lot of the book is spent preparing and trying to foil a future terrorists attack, and things don’t turn as expected. I kind of regret reading the book out of order, because to me this novel seems the logic continuation of #8 The Abominable Man, but #9 Cop Killer is a bit fuzzy in my mind. Time for a re-read perhaps?

Kanae Minato, Penance (2009)

I swear this is not a deliberate attempt to ruin your holiday mood with cruel and gloomy books… It just happens that after Sigmund Freud’s take on death and war, I need to report back on a novel centered around the death of a small child, and the numerous aftershocks of this crime. Feel free to skip this post and to return in Jan. 2022 when the mood will be suitably gloomy and dark.

I first heard of this book through its movie adaptation by Kiyoshi Kurosawa: Shokuzai (2012), which was shown in France in two parts: “Those who wanted to remember” and “Those who wanted to forget”. At the beginning of this century (ooh how old I feel) I’d discovered Kiyoshi Kurosawa with his weird, bordering-on-horror movies: Cure, Kairo and Charisma. For some reasons I never got to watch Shokuzai. But I jumped on the chance to get the book… back in 2017… until I got serious this year to read it. You can safely bet that if it took me nearly a decade to get to a work of art, I have serious expectations about it.

Now were my expectations met? Well… yes ! 😁 Penance is the same story told by multiple characters. Sometimes this literary device is artificial, but in this case it is very appropriate. Five young girls go to the school playground to play on a festival day in a small country village. A stranger in banal work-wear approaches the girls and ask one of them, Emily, to help with some repair. A few hours later, the lifeless (raped) body of the girl is discovered. The four remaining girls are unable to help with the investigation. Emily was the daughter of the local factory’s manager, a recent transplant from Tokyo and the queen of the class. Her classmates were in part awed by her and in part jealous, but now that she’s dead, they’re racked with guilt. The novel takes turn to give the personal account of each of the four girls as they are now adults with their own tragedies and trauma from the event. The present-day action is fifteen years after the crime, as the Japanese statute of limitation is running out and the killer will get off scot-free. We also get to hear from Emily’s mother, who “cursed” the four girls for being unable to identify the murderer of her daughter.

I really enjoyed being taken for a wild ride by Kanae Minato! Don’t plan anything serious while you’re reading this book, it’s a literal page-turner you will find difficult to leave. She’s a skilled plotter and craftswoman and I challenge you to guess where she wants to take you. With Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s detached, contemplative style, I’d be curious to see the movie now. Bonus: my Kindle copy also introduced the beginning of another novel by Minato: Confessions, and I must say I’m hooked already!

Sigmund Freud, Reflections upon War and Death (1915)

I will readily agree that this book is probably the least appropriate and gloomiest possible blog post to publish during the week between Christmas and New Year. Have you celebrated with family? Have you had something special to eat and perhaps a nice gift or two? Now let’s forget about it and turn our thoughts towards Thanatos, the death instinct of humanity…

I’ve been wanting to read something by or about Freud for a while, just to revisit an author I very much enjoyed during my teens. When I first heard about the psychoanalytic method, the unconscious and the repression of feelings, it was a huge revelation… Before Freud I was pretty much a kid who couldn’t understand why people thought one way and acted another way. A decade later, I came to realize that Freud was also problematic and that perhaps all he said was not to taken as true and pure. And also, I started to realize that it had aged a lot and that lots of his books were kind of stuffy and pompous theories not all based on real science. In brief, I grew up and moved on.

And so I downloaded this book on my Kindle from Gutenberg.org, because it was sort of short and I had never read it before. I had not really investigated the context and had no preconception of the content. I probably should have, and I hope this post will serve as PSA. The context is 1915, more than a year into the first world war, and Sigmund Freud is depressed. His sons are on the front, and bad news are coming in every day. Countless young men die and the war is not this glorious fast demonstration of courage and power. It’s dirty and long and painful and uncertain. Before the war, Europeans had entertained the idea that they stood at the pinnacle of civilization, that European people were the most refined and the less barbaric ever, thanks to progress and science and culture etc. How hard is the disillusion!

What didn’t surprise me is that Freud has a dismal view of humans. People have a barbaric instinct and given the chance this instinct rises back from the unconscious to manifest itself into real life. What did surprise me is the contrast between the old sunny (younger) Freud of my memory, the one who dissected individual cases of patients and tried to find why they suffered and how they could get better (perhaps my memory is wrong), and the dark, depressed (older) Freud who makes massive assumptions about society as a whole and basically despairs about the future. As a teen I don’t think I ever read any of his later works.

Both essays were nothing as eye-opening as my first experience of Freud, but i’m definitely curious to plunge back into psychoanalysis, its history and criticism, in 2022.

ps. my post was eventually not so gloomy, wasn’t it? Wait until I tackle child’s death and murder tomorrow, eh?

Pod Review December 18-24

By the time this post comes out, I will be a few hours’ away at my father-in-law preparing for the xmas dinner! I hope that you too are enjoying good times with family and close ones (but not too close! please stay safe!). Traditional French xmas dinner includes some “foie gras” (goose liver) or smoked salmon as appetizer; some seafood or poultry as main, then cheese (of course 😉) and to finish, the Yule log. We chose a log with fruits over the more traditional butter one which is rather heavy after so much fine food already! With all this to plan ahead, I didn’t really concentrate on podcasts this week and just continued with the American Vigilante series, which is not really adapted to the cheerful holiday season.

  • Rough Translation: Moms in translation
  • The Mom Hour #342 “Supposed to be fun” activities that just aren’t (and how to have fun on your own terms)
  • American Vigilante Ep. 4 The Marine’s wife
  • Maintenance Phase: The Great Protein Fiasco. Once again, pseudo science mixed together with racism and greedy imperialism get shameful results. This podcast never fails to put me in outrage-mode, which is not really good for my mood: to be consumed with moderation, but it’s so good!
  • The Mom Hour More than Mom: where we nailed it (and didn’t) in 2021
  • Spotify Heavyweight #42 Mark; the story of a very young artist who messed it up with his New York famous tutor and went home. 40 years later, he discovers how incredibly self-centered he was. I was not really impressed.
  • This American Life #756 But I did everything right
  • Sinica: What’s the deal with the Red new deal?
  • 💙 The Lazy Genius podcast #241 A quick holiday pep talk
  • American Vigilante Ep. 5 Knock Knock
  • Best of both worlds: 2021 in review part 1, favorites – I picked up a few new podcasts recommendations 😉
  • American Vigilante Ep. 6 Sons and fathers
  • The Lazy Genius podcast Bonus: your holiday horror stories

Uncharacteristically, no new podcast this week, nothing! It’s not that I haven’t had suggestions, especially in this end-of-year recaps season, but I’m quite happy with the ones I have for now, and I don’t want to burn out. I’ve discovered dozens of new shows in 2021, for which I’m very grateful, and I want to continue hunting for gold nuggets next year, so no hurry! I’m already thinking hard about my yearly favorites…

This week’s Lazy Genius pep talk by Kendra Adachi was very welcome. The pressure on mothers to be responsible for holiday magic is real, and it’s something we (adults, women) put on ourselves, it’s not really coming from the kids. Managing expectations is the key word.

I wish you all wonderful holidays and I’ll see you next week!

Manga Updates

The season has arrived where I have more books to review than days in the calendar before year end. And so, I’m lucky that some of them are mangas and that I’ll conveniently lump them up in a single post. Speaking of mangas and graphic novels, I read them so fast that I feel as I was cheating to reach my Goodreads goal!

I was happy to continue the unconventional series Blank Canvas (original title かくかくしかじか) by Akiko Higashimura. This autobiographical volume follows the footsteps of young Akiko after she graduated from art school. With no immediate job lined up, she comes back to her native Miyazaki province and her parents’ home. She works at her old teacher’s cram school. Frustrated to have paid for her university and see no progress, her parents get her a job at a call center. Akiko is lost and overwhelmed. She hates her job at the calling center, can’t face quitting her old teacher’s job, but she still has this dream of becoming a mangaka. That’s in these worst circumstances that she finds in herself the desperate energy to draw a manga and submit it to an art competition.

Volume 4 follows Akiko as she starts her true professional career as mangaka. After winning a prize at an amateur manga competition, she is now in contact with the editorial team in Tokyo and gets more and more chance to create mangas. All the time while still working her 2 jobs… Her goal is to save as much money as possible to leave her native province, but she still can’t confess to her old teacher that she does not want to be a painter, and that mangas are her main goal and not only a day job just for money’s sake. We follow her as she moves to Osaka and meets a lot of professional female mangakas who are still her friends today. I really enjoyed the balance of this series, between light and fun anecdotes, information about mangaka techniques and career, and a nostalgic tribute to her old teacher. Can’t wait to read the next – last – volume in the series.

In a completely different style, I tried the first volume of a shojo series Not Your Idol (original title さよならミニスカート Sayonara Miniskirt) by Aoi Makino. I’d already read a short story compilation by this mangaka, and I knew it was more traditionally in the shojo genre than what I normally enjoy. Nina is a very boyish high school student and everybody at school, boys and girls alike, treats her as a weirdo, except for Hikaru, a classmate who is also the star of the judo club. Hikaru recognizes that Nina is actually Karen, a popular pop idol, who used to be the main attraction of a girls band, very girly and sexy in mini-skirts. Karen quit the group and disappeared after a fan attacked her, but if Nina’s real identity is revealed, will her stalker come after her again?

The story is a bit dark for a shojo, as it explores many deep themes: gender identity, objectification of women, idol culture that requires girls to be perfect and pure, assaults against women (not sexual and not graphic, although Nina/Karen suffers from PTSD – but Makino also speaks of the phenomenon of groping in the public transport, and the necessity of women-only train cars). For Western female audiences the cultural gap is certainly important. It is a bit uncomfortable to see so many dialogues repeating that girls wearing mini-skirts are “asking for it”, but that’s certainly something still pervasive in Japanese traditional culture. I am curious to see how the series will evolve, but it’s a bit too coy and messy to my taste. If you want a very adult and darker take on the idol culture, Perfect Blue by Satoshi Kon is a 1997 anime thriller movie bordering on horror. (I just learnt from the internet that it was based on a book) It’s a bit depressing that more than 20 years later, the same themes are still coming up.

Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress (2014) and The Testaments (2019)

I read somewhere of a Margaret Atwood November reading challenge. I didn’t join, but it was my plan from the beginning of 2021 to read The Testaments, so seeing the year end approaching fast, I jumped on this chance. I also came back from the library with Atwood’s short stories collection Stone Mattress, and I thought it would be interesting to read both books in parallel to contrast and compare.

Let’s cut the chase. I enjoyed the short stories a lot more than the novel, although the Handmaid’s Tale is among my favorite (I hesitate using the word) most memorable books. I can’t say that the book is bad per se, or if it’s the case of the TV show ruining the book. At any rate, I found that the book didn’t add anything to the original story or even to the show. It was nowhere near the shock of the book, or even the visual shock of seeing the book adapted on the screen (the first few episodes with Elizabeth Moss are still in my mind). On the contrary it explains way too much, it normalizes Gilead and there is little to no suspense in the story.

By comparison the 9 stories of Stone Mattress were fresh and showed Margaret Atwood with all her verve and imagination. Most of these stories center on an ageing main character; she (or he) has gained some wisdom, but has ample past experiences, regrets and traumas; in this later part of her life, she’s not afraid anymore and she doesn’t care about what others think. The first three stories, “Alphinland”, “Revenant”, and “The Dark Lady” are linked together, about an old female writer who has triumphed in creating a fantasy book series, an often dismissed genre. In the 1960s or 1970s she used to be a poet’s muse, but they parted ways when he cheated on her. Now widowed, the elderly writer can settle scores with her past.

“Torching the Dusties”, the last story in the collection, is set in a retirement home in a world that may be adjacent to Gilead. It is both moving and shocking. The title story is a revenge story on board a cruise to the Arctic, and the model for a perfect murder (if you ever need Margaret’s flawless plan, you can count on her sense of detail and execution). I won’t explain all the stories but none of them disappointed.

What did I learn from this parallel reading? The width of Atwood’s imagination, her love for realism tinted with what used to be seen as inferior genres: horror, science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural, mystery… I also saw glimpses of humor in both (Aunt Lydia’s monologues are great and save the book more than once) and the theme of getting old and dealing with the past, which is not something frequently read about. My conclusion in brief: I want to use this method more often!

Pod Review December 11-17

I have so many books to write about, but it’s already Friday: the week went past way too fast, with a big work project that should be completed by year end… I’ve been focusing on work, which is perhaps a good thing insofar as I didn’t have time for the bad news about Covid and Omicron… but not so good as I’m quite late with Christmas preparation. Next week will definitely be better, and I’ll have my booster shot tomorrow (note to self: load up many podcast episodes in preparation for the train rides and the long wait…)

  • American Vigilante Ep.2 Wrong Suspects
  • NYT The Argument: How to find common ground with your most problematic family members. Because well, maybe some advice will come handy
  • Sorta Awesome #364 We’re obsessed, life hacks we swear by. I heard something about an ice cube to reheat leftover rice, can’t wait to try this one.
  • Edit Your Life #250 Career Pivots. I wanted to hear why Asha Dornfest was leaving the podcast, and frankly the rest was not so interesting, I find that life pivots are deeply personal and it’s hard to give general advice about them
  • American Vigilante Ep.3 Origins
  • Rough Translation: Tasting at a distance
  • Short Wave: What’s driving the political divide over vaccinations. I found the statistics linking Republican vote and Covid victims absolutely fascinating… at the same time, duh.
  • How to Build a happy life by The Atlantic. How to identify what you enjoy with Lori Gottlieb
  • NYT The Argument: Why identity politics isn’t working for Asian Americans. I can’t say I really learnt anything: the answer seems to be a single sentence: because Asia is a huge continent with very different people and cultures.
  • The Europeans: The château, the walrus and the rogue Danish artist [new-to-me]
  • The Europeans: Unravelling a scandal
  • The Mom Hour: More than mom: Best gifts we’ve ever gotten

Last week I’d try an episode of How to Build a happy life and I was disappointed. Following my own rules, I tried a second episode and it was much better. Lori Gottlieb gave interesting remarks about people forgetting how to have fun when coming to adulthood. I had heard of her bestseller “Maybe you should talk to someone”, but I’d never heard her talk, and she’s so good!

This week, I tried “only” 1 new podcast: The Europeans, that came with a recommendation from NPR Rough Translation. The pair of British hosts, one living in Germany (or Netherlands?) and the other one in France, are true believers in the European Union, and they are funny, optimistic and full of informative tidbits. The news story about the Danish artist who created an “art piece” called “Take the money and run” was the funniest! (learn more about it here) All along the year, I tried so many podcasts, but the great majority of them were American, and I was refreshed by this Euro-centric podcast.

American Vigilante continues to be fascinating. Is this man for real? As a European, the stuff he tells seems more the realm of fiction than fact, but how do I know what really goes on in America?

I’m starting to see posts about “best podcasts of the year” here and there, and I’m really looking forward to those lists to discover even more new great shows… as well as working on my own list! How many new podcasts do you think I’ve tried this year?

Marie Donzelli, Adoleschiante (2020)

Why did I borrow this graphic novel from the library? Perhaps because I have a teen boy at home and I needed some comic relief. Or the comparison with a teen girl. Or to imagine what my teen may become in a few years (mine is 13 and in middle school, the girl in the book is a high school junior in 11th grade). Or to get comforted by the idea that my teen is not the worst teen ever (knock on wood).

Now comes the tough part for me: how to explain the title. “Chiante” in French means annoying, but less politely: in fact, a real pain in the a** (pardon my French). Adolescente means a teen girl. Mix both, shake a little, and you get something like… “annoy-teen” ? Which exactly describes how Laura is to her mother. Impossibly annoying at times, and just as suddenly, endearing and moving.

Laura wants a phone, Laura has a crush, Laura smokes on the sly, Laura messes up and tries to be independent. Each double page is a short episode that could be a blog post, but the book has its own narrative arch. It follows Laura and her family from the end of the summer holidays and the start of school year until the year end exams and the start of the following year’s summer holidays. As the family return to their holiday cottage in Brittany, we realize how much Laura has grown. Although the father and the two little brothers are present, the book focuses on the mother / daughter relationship.

In one review a reader asked if it was normal that this book made her feel old. I don’t know this reader’s age but for me the switch of point of view is not limited to this particular book. The mother figure in this book is very endearing too and I could totally empathize with her. Not only is she pushed onto her daughter’s rollercoaster of moods, but she also has her own struggles. After staying home to raise her kids for a few years, she wants to get her career back and she has her own insecurities to fight.

The book didn’t particularly strike me as typically French but I have to recognize that teenaged years in France and in the US come with their own sets of stereotypical moments. Even Laura in this book is speaking the typical French teenaged slang, which I know all too well from my own teen. I doubt that this graphic novel will ever be translated into English but if you’re interested in French daily life with a teen (and not fantasy French), this book is good fun.

Pod Review December 4-10

Last weekend it rained non-stop, my son had a big cold (no Covid!) and so we stayed indoors for a non-stop podcast marathon. Not every episode was memorable, but my son’s cold cleared on Tuesday and the rain cleared a bit too. Covid is having a big surge over here, and so we’re back to home office (almost) full-time, and all work-related merriment plans have been cancelled, but I’m glad that there’s no other restrictions for the moment. I finally grabbed a booster shot appointment after trolling the registration site for hours – 8 more days to go before more peace of mind!

  • Sinica podcast: Peter Hessler live at the Next China 2021 conference. I love the guy, but I’m not totally sure I agree with everything he says. Anyway, it’s been a long time I said I would read his books, I sure need to add it to my 2022 list.
  • The Lazy Genius podcast: #238 How to get stuff done when you don’t feel like it
  • Radiolab: Oliver Sipple. Now this is a rerun, but although I sort of knew the name I had forgotten all about the man, and so a re-listen was not a waste of time
  • The Mom Hour: #341 Home for the holidays with little kids & big kids
  • Radiolab: Animal Minds. Do animals have those feelings we give them or are we totally projecting? Well, this episode made me change my mind about half-a dozen times in the course of listening, so…
  • Sorta Awesome #362 Re-imagining our holidays
  • American Vigilante E.1 KC [new-to-me]
  • Criminal #172 Roselle and Michael. A guide dog saved her blind master from the World Trade Center on 9/11. It’s been far too long since I listened to an episode of Criminal, and this one was no true crime, but very good nonetheless.
  • Chinese Whispers: Is “common prosperity” the road to common poverty?
  • How to build a Happy Life by the Atlantic: How to be self-aware (with Dan Harris) [new-to-me]
  • The Currently Reading Podcast S4E9 Books from authors we’ve loved before + constructive spicy opinions [new-to-me]
  • Sinica Revisiting the red new deal with Lizzi Lee and Jude Blanchette. I loved the image of Xi Jinping as the eye of Sauron. Now that’s an image I can’t unsee.
  • The Lazy Genius podcast: #239 Five lessons learned from soup (no, really!). It reminded me to go in the right order and sauté veggies in butter before boiling the rest. Both metaphorically and literally.
  • The Currently Reading Podcast S4E17 Books of big feels + so many thoughts on matrix
  • Edit Your Life #252 Restful holiday ideas. Somehow I missed an episode where Asha Dornfest announced that she wouldn’t be hosting anymore in 2022, and… I’m sorry after this bit of news I couldn’t focus on the restful ideas.
  • 10 Things to tell you by Laura Tremaine #146 Four mistakes I don’t regret.

A feast of new podcasts this week. The Currently Reading podcast was a recommendation of Laura Tremaine on her IG account I think. It didn’t disappoint, but I need to go lightly with the book podcasts if I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by the number of titles they recommend. I enjoyed the discussion they had on Ep. 9 on negative reviews, which they call spicy opinions.

How to build a Happy Life is an Atlantic podcast, and I downloaded it because of the good reputation of the review. (I’m still remembering the series Floodlines, also under the Atlantic brand, about hurricane Katrina). Well, I haven’t yet reached the 2-episodes mark but I wasn’t taken by the first. It was simply a repeat of what is found on other podcasts, and I didn’t come to be told to try meditation. But to be fair I’ll certainly give it another try and report back.

Now, talking about podcasts that grab you from the get-go, American Vigilante is a podcast that was recommended by Crime Writers On (a podcast about true crime podcasts… I discovered it after Serial season 1, and I should listen more often!). I only listened to one episode but it’s intriguing, and just like the (British) host, I really don’t know what to think about the mysterious KC, but I sure want to learn more about him. Is he a pathological liar? or the real deal?