What's Making Us Happy: A guide to your weekend reading and listening
Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
The audiobook of Steph Fry's Mythos
I took a vacation to London for a few days, and on the plane I listened to Stephen Fry reading his 2017 book Mythos, which is his retelling of the Greek myths. He's a very funny writer and performer and he is an expert narrator. He's also fascinated by history and language, which made this book very much in his wheelhouse. He lays the myths out in a very strict chronology so that they all seem like part of one continuous, serialized history instead of little standalone tales. And he's imbued them with cause and effect, so that one story casts ripples into future ones. He is also only too happy to take very long, discursive dives into how the names of all these characters have infiltrated the English language. Plus, not for nothing, it's Greek myths — it's queer AF. It is hella queer — Hellenic queer. — Glen Weldon
Why We Love Baseball by Joe Posnanski
Sportswriter Joe Posnanski (who I have podcasted with) has a new book out called Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments. I've been listening to Joe read it, which I think is an ideal way to enjoy it. One of the things that happens with sportswriters, and especially with baseball writers, is that it can get very romantic. But Joe turns what can be a weakness into a strength — I have choked up multiple times while listening to this book. I'll also note that Joe is meticulous about specifying the difference between a record in all of baseball, a record in Major League Baseball, and a record in the American and National Leagues, which, of course, does not include the Negro Leagues. This is the kind of thing that makes me feel plugged into history books that are really trying to get things right that haven't always been gotten right. — Linda Holmes
Victoria Monét's album Jaguar II
I am currently very obsessed with Victoria Monét's debut studio album, Jaguar II. She's been putting out singles and EPs for a while, including the great Jaguar. And of course, she's been writing hits for people like Ariana Grande — she worked on "thank u, next" and she co-wrote "7 Rings." She knows how to craft a good pop song and her entire album is a great earworm. It is drawing from the '70s, from the '90s, soul, R&B, there's a duet with Earth, Wind & Fire. I'm especially obsessed with "On My Mama" — I fell in love with it in part because of the visuals for the music video. The choreography is by Sean Bankhead who has been killing it lately with music videos, especially for female artists, including Normani, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B. It's fantastic. — Aisha Harris
The Beaches' album Blame My Ex
The Beaches is a Canadian band that has been rattling around for a few years. Their new album is called Blame My Ex and there's one song — which has been out for a few months and is completely and utterly irresistible — is called "Blame, Brett." It's very clever, very self-aware, and it's unbelievably catchy. "Brett" is such a funny name to pick for that song. You're going to have such a fun half hour with this terrific little record. — Stephen Thompson
More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter
by Linda Holmes
The Netflix film Love at First Sight is the kind of solid romantic comedy that used to be thick on the ground and now requires a little more tracking down. Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy are very charming as a couple who meets on a plane and then has to figure out how to reunite once they land. Rob Delaney is a delight as Richardson's loving dad. (Do they dance together? They do.) A swell, cozy watch.
I've just started reading Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein, and if you just said to yourself, "Wait, which one is Naomi Klein again?" then you know what the book is about.
Also: Coming this week, dropping on Wednesday on Apple TV+, the series The Super Models, about Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, is the latest entry in the genre of documentaries about people made by those people, and it should be taken as such. With that said, I found a lot of what these women and the people who worked with them had to say quite in
Beth Novey adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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