April 2017 Reading Wrap Up

This month I went back to rediscover some more favorites in the nonfiction genre. From feminist collections to essays and short stories, I tried my hand at a handful of them.
In total I read 19 books in April:

Favorite current listen:rookie-- bookspoilsI’d been looking for the perfect podcast for awhile now when I gratefully stumbled upon Rookie’s announcement of launching their first ever podcast at the start of this month. It premiered on April 4th, and I’ve been hooked and tuning in every week since.

On the Rookie Podcast, hosted by Tavi Gevinson, we’ll interview people we admire: artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, activists. We’ll also have teenagers ask semi-qualified grownups for advice, feature work by our readers and listeners, share some life skills and pop culture recommendations, and discuss the human experience through the teenage lens. Then, we’ll all know how to be people! Or at least not know, together.

Not only is Gevinson’s voice eerily soothing and relaxing, the wide range of evergreen issues and topics discussed ring true than ever for me. I also cherished the addition of the interviews in here. We get to hear people from all walks of life talk about those aforementioned subjects and add in their own point of views. From Lorde and Hilton Als to Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton of Another Round, Rowan Blanchard, Winona Ryder, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, and so many more influential individuals that graciously imparted their wisdom.

New episodes release on Tuesdays via iTunes and the Panoply platform. You can subscribe to the podcast and listen to it here!

Honorable Mention:
The one thing I’ve been anticipating for months and months has come back into my life: Skam with its brand new season.

This newly released (and sadly last) season revolves around one of my all-time favorites: Sana Bakkoush. And I truly couldn’t have been more grateful and joyful. I hold a special place in my heart just for her, because she was the one that made me initially interested in watching this phenomenal series, as I mentioned in my December Wrap Up.

To give you some context on the atmosphere and themes being explored in this new season I’d like to voice this on-point postup until now, sana has been painted as this incredibly fierce, strong, unapologetic girl who doesn’t tolerate any kind of ignorance. she’s consistently portrayed as confident and outspoken throughout the past three seasons. then BAM. s4 airs, we’re seeing things from her perspective, and there’s this dramatic shift, almost instantly. 

she’s still the same sana. she stares down the woman on the bus. she snaps at vilde when vilde won’t shut up about how much sex she’s having and corrects her when vilde says “you can’t have sex”. she tells the girls that she thinks it’s their responsibility to tell noora about william’s new girlfriend considering william won’t tell her himself. these are all very sana-like traits. 

but now, we see just how much she has to put up with, too. it’s the more subtle things. the rushing to silence her phone when she was on the bus because shit shit shit, it’ll freak some people out. the fact that yes, her friends ordered another pizza without any pork on it, but the meat was still haram. but it was a kind gesture of them to think of it in the first place, right? so she doesn’t complain, she just silently picks the meat off, not wanting to seem ungrateful despite the fact that really, don’t they know by now?

and it’s so subtle. things that we would only get from seeing life through her eyes. but it’s chipping away at her, bit by bit, these little instances of being excluded, of her friends not quite getting it. and it’s so heartbreaking to see, but so, so clever, too. because suddenly i just feel like we – like the characters on the show – have misjudged sana completely. she’s still strong, she’s still fierce. but she swallows a lot down, too. she’s hurting more than we originally thought. she feels more misunderstood than we originally thought. and i am so impressed that in a clip that was less than 8 minutes long, we have already seen a completely different side to sana than we got throughout the last 3 seasons.

Getting to see things from Sana’s perspective profoundly changed my outlook on so many things. I started to become aware of all the cracks and the constant little hurts that she has to put up with almost daily, especially those from the girl squad. Also, now that I got to see it all play out from Sana’s pov, I quickly started picking up on how inconsiderate and at times even ignorant people – strangers, classmates, etc.- came to be around her. Sana Bakkoush deserves the whole wide world, so it continually crushed my heart to see her being under appreciated.

But I was interested to see how the show – a known barrier breaker – would handle said situation with the utmost care and expertise, as it has done with significant topics in the past three seasons.

Which leads me to the next point that I want to talk about: Skam portraying their Muslim main lead. Religion is such a crucial part of my everyday life as a practicing Jew, so I was beyond ecstatic to have a young Muslim woman of colour represented in this season. And it defied my exceptions in all aspects, to say the least. The utter respect and admiration I have for Sana Bakkoush – played by the effervescent Iman Meskini – is difficult to articulate, so I think it’s best if I let this next post sum it up:

It made my heart soar to see this on television.

And just a few more things I’d like to vent about:

  • I adore the fact that I became smitten with Sana and Yousef before they’d even spoken more than one sentence to each other. Their eye contact alone was reason enough to give me butterflies.

So you can only imagine how utterly alive I felt when those two finally had some dialogue. I was living vicariously through them, to be quite frank.

I also feel compelled to share this next gifset because there’s no going back with my love for Sana and Yousef:

thumbs up while choking back tears This is how I like my flirting.

  • Also, Sana’s season had barely even started and it was already the most iconic Skam season for me. That first episode alone covered so many vitally important topics, which consequently reminded me exactly why this remains to be my favorite tv series. Nothing quite compares to it.
  • The soundtrack is as always eerily on point with the characters.
  • An uplifting and healthy mother-daughter relationship represented between Sana and her mom had me all that more enraptured.
  • Sana Bakkoush is an incredible positive influence in my life. Just seeing her be herself genuinely inspires me. And if I am half the person she is, I’ll consider myself to be fortunate.
  • The balloon squad (called by that name because the first time we saw them was in a behind the scenes photo and they were holding a bundle of balloons) are the ultimate #squadgoals.

They come off like a bunch of funny, loving, handsome, wholesome, complex characters. And I was won over one line at a time. Also, I high-key cherish the fact that they have a Youtube channel where they post videos throughout the week.

  • I love the intricate attention paid to details in Skam. Absolutely everything is there for a reason; things are never as simple as they first seem. But then this also leads to me overanalyzing each episode. Oh, and the fact that this was the first season where I kept up with the release of each clip and episode only added to the immense thrill and excitement.
  • Honestly, I could go on and on about how season four has quite quickly become my favorite Skam season, but I think you get my point. Plus, I’m still in denial that it’s the last one… I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that they’re ending it on such a good season.

P.S. since we’re less than a handful episodes into season four, I wasn’t anticipating to write so much but hey, what can I say? I love this show with all my heart. And I imagine I’ll have a lot more to say about the remaining episodes left, so if you’re interested in keeping up with my fangirling you’re more than welcome to follow my Tumblr here or my Twitter here.

That was my April wrap-up, thank you for reading!


Review: Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matter

“Dancers are storytellers.” 

In one thrilling photograph after another, Dancers Among Us presents professional dancers from across the country–leaping, spinning, lifting, kicking, while in the midst of daily living.

There’s no photo manipulation here, no trampolines, no gimmicks, no tricks. Just a photographer, his vision, and the serendipity of what happens when the shutter clicks.

I went into this not knowing what to expect, but was ultimately blown away by the sheer joy and awe I felt just flipping from page to page in this book. The seemingly effortless and effervescent way the dancers were captured by Jordan Matter made my head spin.

Divided into seven parts with short essays by the author accompanying each one, I was quickly swept up inside this world where everything seemed to be vibrant, sparkling and moving. There’s also a lovely dose of quotes from well-known individuals sprinkled throughout Dancers Among Us.

But for now I’d like to focus on those bits and pieces that most pierced my heart:

#1: Rise Above It All
Michelle Fleet
New York, New YorkDancers Among Us 1-- bookspoils
#2: Opening Night
Parisa Khobdeh
New York, New YorkDancers Among Us 2-- bookspoils

#3: Big Day
Kristin DeCesare, Jessica Press
New York, New YorkDancers Among Us 3-- bookspoils

#4: Mama’s Boy
Sun Chong, with his mother
Washington, DCDancers Among Us 4-- bookspoils

#5: Vista
Evgeniya Chernukhina
New York, New York
Dancers Among Us 5-- bookspoils

#6: Save the Day
Ricardo Rhodes
Sarasota, Florida
Dancers Among Us 6-- bookspoils

#7: Saving Lives
Duncan Lyle
Boston, MassachusettsDancers Among Us 7-- bookspoilsI stared at the above picture for an hour trying to figure out how it looks so damn effortless.

#8: Transfer
Jeffrey Smith
New York, New York
Dancers Among Us 8-- bookspoils

#9: Park It
B-boy Gentl Minsung Kim
New York, New York
Dancers Among Us 9-- bookspoils

#10: Close Shave
Alyssa Desamais
Montreal, Canada
Dancers Among Us 10-- bookspoils

#11: Book Worm
Casia Vengoechea
New York, New YorkDancers Among Us 11-- bookspoils

#12: Cram Session
Michelle Fleet
New York, New YorkDancers Among Us 12-- bookspoils

However, the one thing I kept wondering throughout was what happened the second after the shutter clicked… Like, how did the dancers get out of their position safely?
But thankfully the author included a section at the end titled “about the photographs.” So if you’re interested in knowing more context about the inspirations or ideas behind any particular photo, you can just check out said section at the end of the book. It’s utterly brilliant and adds immense depth to each picture.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Dancers Among Us, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

I was looking for something comforting and light to read when I couldn’t fall asleep in the middle of the night, and then I see the completely stunning cover of this picture book and was instantly enchanted…Leaf-- bookspoils

When a polar bear arrives unexpectedly in the woods, the animals fear and avoid him, suspecting him to be dangerous – and his habit of collecting leaves only adds to their distrust. Then one day, they watch as he attempts to fly over the water with wings made of colorful leaves…just trying to go home.

Maybe he needs some help?

This tale of acceptance gently highlighting the plight of polar bears in today’s changing climate had me enraptured from start to finish.

I genuinely can’t stop thinking of the utterly vibrant illustrations in here. Like, I tried to close my eyes after reading and all I could see were the lively colors springing up in my mind over and over. Here’s a handful of examples of said occurrence:Leaf 1-- bookspoils

Leaf 2-- bookspoils

Leaf 3-- bookspoils

Leaf 4-- bookspoils

Sandra Dieckmann’s debut picture book about helping outsiders is one heart-warming tale I’d highly recommend.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: October 10th, 2017

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Leaf, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!