Pearls & Vodka

What I’m Reading and Listening To…

Serinda Swan, a Canadian-born actress, said recently, “Nowadays, people in the entertainment industry can have a louder voice than politicians, and I think it’s important that they use that voice to say something positive or to give a voice to somebody that’s had theirs taken away.” I am a reader by nature, I love to study things, and learn things. Some call that nerdy, I just call that who I am. I read constantly whether its books, Twitter, Facebook, newspapers, magazines, blogs…anything. I love opinion columns, I love biographies, I love reading the same story in numerous news outlets just to see the spin. I’m most likely what you would call an eternal student. I love to analyze movie plots, I love to laugh at television shows and become so engrossed in the characters and their storylines that I have to finish the series. I love music, I love the way it can bring me to tears or leave me feeling so empowered that I think I can take over the world. I love podcasts, I love being challenged to think outside my box, I love hearing other viewpoints and opinions, I love questioning myself and my thought patterns.

A lot of times, especially lately, the theme of this online community has been forced into sensitive and complicated subject matters. So today, I’m choosing to focus on something else. I thought I’d use this space today to applaud the work of some very talented individuals in some different areas and share a little of what I’ve been enjoying so far this year.

My Top 5 Books of 2017, so far:
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown [1]
“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” – Brene Brown

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson [2]
“People who believe they are ignorant of nothing have neither looked for nor stumped upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the universe.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann [3]
“History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.” -David Grann

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons [4]
“Loss is a straightforward equation: 2 – 1 = 1. A person is there, then she is not. But a loss is beyond numbers, as well as sadness, and depression, and guilt, and ecstasy, and hope, and nostalgia – all those emotions that experts tell us come along with death. Minus one person equals all of these, in unpredictable combinations. It is a sunny day that feels completely gray, and laughter in the midst of sadness. It is utter confusion. It makes no sense.” -Zinzi Clemmons

I Was Told to Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet [5]
“As I’d seen over and again, people who see themselves as victims sometimes don’t notice when they become oppressors.” -Souad Mekhennet

Next up on my list to read is The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas and I can’t wait to dig in.

My Top 5 Podcasts of 2017, so far:
Pantsuit Politics with “Sarah from the Left and Beth from the Right” {Sarah Stewart-Holland and Beth Silvers} [6]
Their tagline is, “No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance.” And that is true to the core of their show. They do an incredible amount of research for each episode which allows them to make informed opinions and present well thought out and educated commentary on all the issues facing our nation today. They do focus a lot on politics, but they also always have a segment on what they are thinking about outside of politics. They always “compliment the other side” as well, in an effort to continue the peace mission of nuanced conversation. If you become a “patron” of the show you get extra content that is amazing too, like drunken conversations on politics, what could be better? Go check them out at
Smartest Person in the Room with Laura Tremaine [7]
The challenge that Laura Tremaine issues is to seek out the smartest people and to learn from them. Tremaine is a “Hollywood Housewife” so she has lots of connections and some incredible people are guests on her show. Laura hosts the show and her friend Megan Tietz produces it, you might recognize their names from the Sorta Awesome podcast which is also, well, awesome! From religion to Hollywood, to your mind/body and anything going viral, this show will give you insight into some brilliant minds. Go check out Laura’s website at

Stuff You Missed in History Class with Tracy Wilson and Holly Frey [8]
I told you I love to learn. This podcast revisits so many stories from history that were not in your textbooks. Earlier this month they revisited the murder of Mary Ann Bickford in 1845; also, known as, the first sleepwalking killer. I mean come on, you know that sounds intriguing. Go check out their website at

How I Built This with Guy Raz
This podcast is a part of the podcast directory of NPR. It’s a show about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Guy interviews some of the world’s best-known companies and brands. Go check out his show at

Beautiful Writers Podcast with Linda Sivertsen, aka the Book Mama [9]
For those of us who love to write this podcast is an incredible tool for inspiration, encouragement, reality checks and everything in between. Linda interviews people like Dr. Brene Brown, Rob Bell, Glennon Doyle-Melton, Seth Godin, Elizabeth Gilbert, Arianna Huffington, Martha Beck and so many others. Their tagline is, “take your dreams from idea to done with us.” And that is so true of what her show does for wannabes like me. Go check out her website at

I’m obsessed with podcasts and listen to another 10 or so faithfully. Some honorable mentions are The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, For the Love with Jen Hatmaker, and the Pop Culture Happy Hour. Also, if you haven’t checked out the podcast series: Serial, S Town or Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History you are sincerely missing out on hours of entertainment!

In the words of my friends at Pantsuit Politics, “keep it nuanced y’all!”


Photo by Aliis Sinisalu