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our best recommendations for your downtime
issue 227 ~ week of july 2, 2021

editor's note

Hi <<First Name>>!

Have you read anything great lately? I’ve noticed a trend in three of my favorite books from the past year: they are ostensibly about really small things, but are in fact about Really Big Things. Each author uses the miniscule as a vehicle to describe the macro, and each book ends up being an incredibly satisfying read. Stay with me...

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatatil focuses on unsung heroes of the natural and animal world, ranging from cassowaries (I saw one once in Australia! It was awesome!) to fireflies. Within those descriptions, Nezhukumatatil weaves in stories of her upbringing being raised by a Filipina mother and Indian father. It’s lyrical, it’s fascinating, it’s at times purposely jarring. It’s quite a feat.

My Inner Sky by Mari Andrews is focused on four parts of the day: twilight, golden hour, night, and dawn. As she explores each phase of time, Andrews navigates her struggles (and triumphs) with illness, grief, relationships, and loneliness. I realize the premise sounds depressing, but the book itself isn’t—Andrews finds huge joys and wins in the quotidian, showing us that even when we are working on some Really Big Things, the small things are what keep us going. 

The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo is maybe the weirdest of the three, but I mean that in a good way. What a cool concept—a whole book about fruit that doesn’t cooperate! It’s a fascinating dive into esoterica… and also pivotal moments in Lebo’s life ranging from leaving a claustrophobic long-term relationship to exploring family secrets.

This story-behind-the-story subgenre of personal essays feels especially timely. Getting to do small things again like having friends over for a casual pop-by (I made last-minute hummus! It was thrilling!) and eating in restaurants (it was nice to meet you, sweet potato shakshuka) feel rather monumental. 

Hope you can dive deep into a great read (and some barbecue) this weekend.

 Carey Polis, senior director of content & audience strategy, GNI

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This week's picks and reads were curated by: Carey Polis

weekly picks

ideas for unwinding this weekend
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Some recent book purchases, bookmarks, and margin notes on where I bought them

weekly reads

reads to share with the group chat

 take action and take care


Ways to take action this week... Support those seeking shelter after recent difficult events. Learn about the heat dome impacting the Pacific Northwest and how you can help, and community-led mutual aid groups providing shelter and supplies in Washington and Oregon. Support those impacted by the Surfside Condo Collapse here.

Ways to take care… Stay safe! Understand how to take care of yourself, children, pets, and plants during the extreme heat wave. Access resources on dealing with grief and loss from The Dinner Party.

Thanks for reading and supporting GNI and our partners — they help make the creation of this free newsletter possible. Just a note: GNI may receive a small commission from items you purchase from this newsletter. 
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