Another month has ended and Oh God! is it already February!? Well then, it’s been an interesting month for me with a lot of craziness going on post-holidays and work-wise, but I tried to make some time for some new obsessions which I now present to you below. Podcasts, books, comics, more podcasts, have filled up my time this January and I’m hoping to share just a little of my love of each one with you as we go into a new month full of new obsessions and loves. Be sure to let me know in the comments after what captured your attention and love this month or what new thing you’re looking forward to in February that you just know you’ll find yourself sinking into.
Story of Seasons (3DS)
I’ve been trying to make it a habit a lot more to return to playing video games. Maybe it’s a sense of FOMO or just that I’m looking for something different or more interesting to pass my time with. I’ve always been a huge fan of farming, simulation, and RPG games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, etc. Story of Seasons is made by the original creator behind Harvest Moon, Yasuhiro Wada. It’s basically the same as Harvest Moon, but I think it’s a lot better content and story wise as Harvest Moon has been going downhill for a long time after they left. It’s a fairly addicting game that’s also relaxing in its repetitive nature. I decided to go back to it this year because I was getting a little bored of the farming games on the PC and Switch and have been waiting for a few new releases to come out. So I needed to fill this feeling of a lull with something I haven’t played in a while. This game really hit the spot, and if you haven’t hear of the series, I would highly recommend checking it out if you’re a hardcore farming/RPG fan like me.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Devil in the White City has been on my “to-read” list for a while. It’s been passed around at my work a lot and I’ve heard good things. I recently got the chance to listen to it in audiobook format from my library and found myself really enjoying it. The book follows the life and times of the famous serial killer H.H. Holmes and his killer mansion in Chicago during one of the busiest world’s fairs. Larson not only focuses on the life and killings of Holmes but also what was happening during that time, the architecture of the Chicago World’s Fair, and the culture surrounding this huge event to paint a backdrop for everything that went on. I really think Larson is a great writer who manages to meld all these different ideas and view-points together into a cohesive and interesting book. It was really fascinating to not only learn about one of the most prolific serial killers in American history, but also a world encompassing event that we will only ever see faint leftovers of in our time.
Mort by Terry Pratchett
I’ve been trying to read more books this past year in an effort to get out of my regular routines and try more new things. One of the series that I’ve wanted to read for a long time is Discworld. I’ve always had a passing interest in his books. I’d heard about them before (what fantasy fan hasn’t) and my sister used to read them a lot, but I never actually could get into them myself. Maybe because the whole series had always looked so daunting. I mean there’s specific websites dedicated to the myriad ways one can start reading the series. But sitting there thinking about wasn’t going to get me anywhere. So I started off with Small Gods and decided to branch off into the mini-series that were connected more by character and subject, which brought me to Mort, the first book following the life and adventures of this universes’ god of death and his new apprentice. I haven’t gotten close to finishing it yet, but so far I’m really enjoying the character Pratchett has created for Death and his witty way of speaking and looking at the world. I’m hoping I can get through more of his books and maybe move on to the witch series soon as well.
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People
The last couple months I’ve been on a bit of a podcast binge as I tried to relax and recover from the holidays. It allows me to work and listen to some really interesting stories or distract myself on my commute to and from work. Lately, one of my favorites has been “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People” or “Beautiful/Anonymous”. The Podcast is hosted by Chris Gethard, a stand-up comedian who takes calls from listeners for one hour. During that hour the caller can talk about whatever they want and Chris can not hang up on them no matter what. This format has produced some really interesting stories, like someone who was getting ready to go to jail for four years, a woman who fosters and adopts children, and a woman who helps children who have been trafficked. The stories can be both funny and deeply moving, and the people always remain anonymous. Chris creates this really interesting and empathetic space where people can talk about pretty much anything and not be judged for it or feel pressured to share more than they are comfortable with.
“Heavyweight” is one of the more serious podcasts I listen do, though it is hosted by writer and humorist Johnathan Goldstein, who injects some wit and banter into each episode. The podcast deals with the big events that have shaped a person’s life or the largest regret someone has had and has never been able to resolve. Goldstein takes his guests back in time to that moment and helps them figure out what went wrong, then, back in the present, helps them find a way to make things right. It’s most famous episode is “Gregor” wherein Goldstein helps his friend Gregor reconnect with an old friend Moby, the multimillionaire musician, who he had lent a box-set of CD’s to 30 years ago that helped skyrocket Moby to success. A box of CD’s he then never got back. The episodes are engaging and witty, delving deep into other people’s lives and issues. It’s an entertaining listen for a quiet night or to get you through the work day.
“Adulting” is a podcast hosted by two comedians, Jordan Carlos and Michelle Buteau, who talk to actors, comedians, and other celebrities about their daily life and struggles to grow as an adult. This podcast is super funny, can get raunchy at times, but always presents something interesting to talk about when it comes to what adults should know how to do. Each episode is recorded in front of an audience and they take anonymous questions from the audience for their guests to answer like: When does a Venmo request become petty? How do I break up with a friend who’s holding me back? What is an acceptable amount of money to spend on pillows? This podcast does not really take itself seriously, but you can find some serious snippets within their raucous conversations. It’s become a pretty fun podcast for me to listen to as I pass the time at work. It looks like the podcast didn’t get picked up for a season two yet, but there are still one season’s worth of episodes on Spotify and live shows.
The Hilarious World of Depression
This is another podcast hosted by a former stand-up comedian who talks to other comedians, writers, actors, and performers about their experiences with clinical depression. I feel like I’ve always been fairly open that I deal with anxiety and depression on a daily basis, and listening to these stories about people who have gone through some truly tough times and remain successful and up-beat really helps me see my own illness and experiences in a new light. The host leads off asking each guest whether or not they think depression is funny and then delves into their past experiences with it, when they first noticed its onset, and how they finally got help. A lot of the stories can be truly inspiring and create a space where listeners can feel like they’re not alone in their mental illness by listening to famous people open up about their struggles.
Lately I’ve been trying to get back into reading more western comics, and I thought I great place to start would be to revisit those series I loved but hadn’t been able to keep up with. Fables is one of those series. I started reading it way back when and only got about 3 or 4 volumes in before my reading of it fell off. The final issue was released in late 2015 and the total trade volumes of this series stand at 22 now. I’m on a mission now to finally complete this series. And the more I read through it again, the more I’m seeing things I don’t remember seeing last time and enjoying it more and more. Fables is definitely one of those series that benefits from multiple read-throughs and offers a lot of contemplative questions about politics, social structures, and issues we’re dealing with ourselves in an amusing and unique way. I’m really enjoying seeing how the different fable and fairy tale stories are brought into a modern world and how they all interact with each other given their history and the new circumstances surrounding their lives in the new world. And through this new reading, I’m seeing a lot of metaphorical links between historical events and social issues in our own world and culture. I’m still in the process of completing my read-through, and I’m enjoying every volume.
~~Thanks for Reading!~~