There's Something About a Book Tag

The New York Times “By The Book” Tag

Another month, another Book Tag. I initially found this one at My Paper Infinity, and through some searching, traced it to Nerdy Talks Book Blog and then finally to its originator, booktuber Marie Berg (it was also done by Rincey Reads). This Tag is inspired by the By The Book column in The New York Times, and each blogger has a slightly different version of this Book Tag, so my version will also be slightly varied. I recommend checking out those blogs, posts, YouTube channels, and column (before or after you read my answers below). Here we go.

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Five Podcasts for February

Greetings! February is knocking at our door with optimism and a fresh perspective on the year. As I say my farewells to January, I am looking onward to new and continuing short-term goals, as well as updating and reminding myself of longer term goals for my blog, my professional life, and my personal self. One particular goal of mine is to explore a new-to-me form of media that is intellectual, entertaining, and worth sharing with others. The podcast is this form of media.

Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, which means I am definitely late to the party. Although I have listened to a few programs during my time in college and a few more here and there, I want to find one or two that I enjoy listening to regularly. I have a handful of favorite television shows that I watch religiously, so there’s no reason I can’t sit down a couple of times a week to listen to a podcast.


Of course, as with my Reading Challenge, I’m reaching out to you, reader, to encourage you to join me. Now, if you have never listened to a podcast, or, like me up until recently, have only heard of the word but never understood what exactly a podcast involves, do not worry. I have combed through “best podcast” lists, blogs run by podcast-listeners, and my favorite media agencies and have selected five podcasts to pay attention to during February. I am hoping that by focusing on five, I will be able to find out what I like and what I don’t, and perhaps discover other podcasts to enjoy. I’m really hoping that I don’t like at least one, because if I become obsessed with all five I’m really going to have an overload problem on my hands. But I won’t worry about that just yet.

I will introduce the five I have selected in just a moment, but first, I would like to address the podcast-lovers and dedicated listeners who have already compiled their own favorites. Drop your suggestion(s) in a comment below and share the podcast knowledge! I am thinking about selecting five new podcasts every month, so I would love to feature your favorite(s) in the future. Thank you ahead of time; here are my inaugural selections:

Modern Love: The Podcast

The New York Times

The commencement of this podcast was announced just over a week ago, and is fitting for February, or should I say Valentine’s Day, which will be here before we know it. This podcast is inspired by the “Modern Love” column in The New York Times, which is described as “a series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love.” Each week, a “Modern Love” essay will be read and then discussed; the topics vary and so do the voices – Jason Alexander is heard in “One Last Swirl,” for example – so I do think there is a story, and narrator, for everyone.

New Episode: Every Thursday
Listen: On iTunes or through

This American Life

WBEZ and Chicago Public Media

Perhaps one of the most well known and listened to radio shows, This American Life chooses a theme for their stories each week, and broadcasts the stories on public radio and television (have you heard of the show Serial? It shares creators with This American Life). From science to sports, politics to summer camp, and just about everything in between, there is a wide range of topics covered which makes this podcast a great starting point for someone new to this kind of media, or for someone who is looking for something exciting to talk about with friends and companions. It’s a truly great podcast to spend time with.

New Episode: Every Friday
Listen: Just about anywhere. Subscribe and/or download here

The Writer’s Almanac (with Garrison Keillor)
American Public Media

I was introduced to this podcast in an American [I think it was Short?] Fiction class at UMaine, and I’ve been listening to it off and on since. I would make this a definite must-listen because it’s short, it’s literary and arts based, and the text is included if you would like to read along or read later. From poems, condensed biographies, and birthday celebrations, you will learn about people and works you may not know anything about or you will learn something new about a favorite subject.

New Episode: Daily
Listen: On iTunes, iHeartRadio,, or subscribe/download here

WTF with Marc Maron
Squarespace and others

On a different note, this podcast is led by stand up comedian Marc Maron, and he invites fellow comedians, actors and actresses, journalists and writers, critics, producers, musicians, and a plethora of other people who are truly interesting and admirable. The episodes are a little on the long side (an hour or longer), especially those with more than one guest, but they are captivating enough so your attention will be strongly held.

New Episode: Every Monday and Thursday
Listen: On Howl Premium or
Disclaimer: Foul language

Reply All
Gimlet Media

This podcast is “about the internet,” but this is an extremely broad description, as you will find out with a listen to any of the episodes. It’s more about how the internet, or technology in general, is used – and as it’s such a big part of our lives, these stories are about that: life. Not every episode will be for you, but there are so many that you are sure to find a discussion that sparks your interest; this podcast is one on my radar because I like that the creators  sought out a fresh way to have these discussions, by using something so familiar to us for [likely] unimaginable yet imaginative stories.

New Episode: Every Wednesday
Listen: On iTunes, Soundcloud, and Reply All


Word of the Day: precipitous & oppugn

Good morning, and happy Tuesday. I took yesterday off to enjoy some sun, food, and company lakeside, so I’ll be including yesterday’s word here as well. I will let Wordsmith explain the theme for this week:

Vincent A. Musetto, the editor who wrote the timeless headline “Headless Body in Topless Bar”, died earlier this month (NY Times).

Countless editors toil in obscurity in newsrooms around the world every day. Even though they do an invaluable job, it’s rare that newspeople themselves become news. Musetto’s headline generated numerous stories in the press, so it’s not surprising that his passing has resulted in many obituaries. May he rest in peace. He was no ordinary man — here’s hoping someone remembered to retrieve his brain to identify its genius (just like Einstein’s).

In Musetto’s honor we’ll feature five words that are coined after body parts, starting with today’s word that has its origin in the head.

Enjoy your week, and enjoy these words.

oppugn (uh-PYOON)
verb transitive: to call in question; to contradict; to dispute

From Latin oppugnare (to fight or oppose), from ob- (against) + pugnare (to fight), from pugnus (fist). Earliest documented use: 1435

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week put the blame on the media, accusing media organizations of destroying the party’s image. Furthermore, he oppugned press credibility.”
Donny Syofyan; Blame Game and Political Suicide of Indonesian Elites; The Jakarta Post (Indonesia); Jul 25, 2011


precipitous (pri-SIP-i-tuhs)
adjective: 1. resembling a precipice, a cliff with a nearly vertical overhanging face.
2. extremely steep
3. abrupt, rapid, or hasty (applied to a worsening situation)

From obsolete French précipiteux, from Latin praecipitare (to cast down headlong), from prae- (before) + caput (head). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kaput- (head), also the origin of head, captain, chef, chapter, cadet, cattle, chattel, achieve, biceps, mischief, occiput, recapitulate, and capitation. Earliest documented use: 1646

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“I’ve always had a weakness for lost causes and for writers who achieved some acclaim and then experienced a precipitous fall from grace.”
Guy Vanderhaeghe; I Wanted to Return to the Darting, Glimmering Light of Short Fiction; The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); May 2, 2015.

Thoughts on Thoughts

“7 Thoughts From a Chronically Unhappy Person”
Diana Spechler – The New York Times, April 21st, 2015

Sleeplessness. Only sleeping a few hours, not due to lack of exhaustion, but perhaps an overwhelming amount. That’s what causes sleeplessness. Worrying so much that it keeps you awake, and even after you are physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from worrying you cannot fall asleep.

Misunderstood. Expressionless. Cover-up.

You think it’s dramatic that that girl would rather fail the oral presentation and run out of the room crying than just “suck it up” and do it? That’s why she won’t tell you what’s wrong – because you believe it’s something that can be explained, overruled, overridden, and forgotten, and she’s just being silly. Well that reaction you call silly is killing her from the inside. No, I’m not being dramatic. This is exactly what that reaction is doing:

Making her dizzy. You know when you spin around too much and you see those black dots? Well, everything within her is spinning so much all she can see are those black dots.
Causing her to feel lightheaded. She needs to sit down before she passes out.
Creating a nauseous feeling that is only worsened by the above two.
Draining her confidence. Well, any that she had to begin with. Why go through with this when this is the reaction of her body? She’ll never be good enough.

Oh, and embarrassing her. She can deal with it better when it happens in her apartment, or when she’s alone. But in a room full of people, in a crowd, or in a public place, this reaction escalates because she knows people like you are watching, wondering why she’s being so dramatic.

Why won’t it stop? When will it be over? Believing in herself is easy, she is a strong believer in herself. But in those moments her mind has other plans – she can’t do it. She shouldn’t do it. She won’t do it.

And even at times when the obligation’s strength outweighs the anxiety’s, she still feels worthless afterwards. Because it’s likely to happen again, and once is enough to make her say “once is enough,” and quit.

Quit until that reaction lessens, until it ceases to exist. But if it already rules so much of her, how many times must she give up, so this gnawing, life-sucking reaction doesn’t exist? What if it’s already gnawed away too much, so if she continues to unravel and continues to quit, she herself will not exist?