In the busyness of a normal work week, I struggle to keep up with my reading. But every single time I give myself a few hours to actually sit down with a good book or browse through some quality articles, I’m always thankful. There’s something about reading that connects us back with the rest of the world, and grounds us in our human experience. This October Week 4 Reading List is a combination of emotional poems, strong articles, a piece on Lady Gaga’s behind-the-scenes life, and a powerful photo-story on being eighteen.
I hope everything resonates with you as it did with me. And as always, feel free to browse past weeks right here.
1. The first poem from this week’s list is one about being armed in love rather than hate.
“Unsystem the System” is a powerful title for a powerful poem about our current state in regards to gun violence and human connection. The author, Kimberly Grey, talks about ‘arms,’ in terms of both our extremities and the weapons we carry. She creates a beautiful picture of what the innocence of connection can look like through a couple’s intimacy when we all learn to put down our arms.
2. A useful article on being more time-conscious.
Do you ever feel like there are just not enough hours in the day? Sameee. Sometimes I feel like this is my weekly mantra. That’s why I gravitated towards this piece on using our time wisely. The author’s strategy was to literally map out the hours and push to be as on-schedule as possible. I loved this because this process has been infinitely valuable in my own life. Though I haven’t (yet) mapped out my hour-by-hour to-dos, I think it’s something I can easily incorporate to keep myself on task and focused.
3. This poignant essay on pigeons (seriously) and so much more about our human connection and relationships.
“Pigeons are, after all, somewhat expert in those types of things when it comes to other pigeons. They are monogamous, which Penny told me she found enchanting. And they have a mysterious and uncanny ability to always find their way home, no matter what. Dead reckoning is what it’s called. They are born knowing where they belong, with whom they belong. No hesitation, no changing minds. They simply know this is where they live, this is their mate, this is where they will remain.”
Okay, so this short story isn’t really about pigeons, per se, but it’s about how these birds (and their roles in the story) can be a metaphor for the ideal human relationships we long for. Packed with some beautiful, vivid imagery this story is both powerful and heartbreaking.
4. Probably one of the most profound pieces from this week’s reading list was this article + photo collage on being 18.
For lack of the words to truly describe this, I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself. Built like a magazine or scrapbook, this website incorporates words, photos, ‘magazine clipping’ like images, and videos to showcase what eighteen-years-old looks like around the world.
Photos of women taken by women, the collage speaks this to life: “[A] celebration of girlhood around the world — across 12 time zones and 15 languages, featuring 21 subjects and 22 photographers.” Plus, the end features an inspirational text section on heroes such as Malala Yousafzai who opened a school for Syrian refugees at age 18. Crazy and inspiring!
5. In the spirit of Halloween, I loved this poem about ‘ghosts,’ but really about our spirits and the legacies we leave.
“[N]ot all of us get to be ghosts.
We linger in the fringes of each other’s fading
warmth counting our dead, considering our chances.”
I love the imagery of this poem, two women standing side-by-side and contemplating what comes next. For me, this was a powerful consideration of what it means to truly live and how the end speaks to our relationships, and what value we must take from, and give to them before we leave this Earth.
6. Really loved this article on Princess Eugenie and how she used her wedding dress to empower women.
For women with scars, Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress said so much. Open-backed, this dress gave a statement that it’s okay to be exactly who you are. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Her scar reaches from upper neck to lower back and is from a prior scoliosis surgery at age 12.
“Eugenie told ITV’s This Morning that her decision to show her scar was not only a way to honor the people who looked after her in the hospital, but also as a way to stand up “for young people who also go through this.”
In a world filled with plastic and reconstructive surgery, makeup, and many means of altering or ‘hiding’ parts of our body, it was so refreshing to see this intentionally-designed, open-back dress as a statement of pride and female empowerment.
7. To be honest, I’m still reeling from at the absolutely breathtaking movie, “A Star Is Born.” This is the behind-the-scenes on Lady Gaga’s experience recording and making the movie.
When Gaga talks about the two main characters of the movie and how her and Bradley Cooper (co-star) fit into their roles, she says:
““They’re both very complex, layered things, with a lot of emotional depth, and he captured that. This is what I think makes the film so successful: that it was so real. And I’ve lived it, so I can testify to that.”
I loved reading this and getting another peek into Gaga’s life, her production of the movie, chemistry with co-star Bradley Cooper, and thoughts. Though she often presents herself as a very ‘out-there’ and even wild person, behind-the-scenes, she’s actually all depth and heart.
When she talks about her transitions between her soft of in-your-face style vs. Joanne record and being more of ‘herself,’ she says:
“It was sort of like a very polite ‘Fuck off.’ It was never about looking perfect—it was always about just being myself. And I think that’s what it’s always been about for my fans, too. It was a form of protection, and a secret—like a wink from afar. I’m a monster, and you’re a monster too.”
8. And last but not least, I’m so intrigued by this slightly humorous, yet incredibly useful column on millennial etiquette.
When I first stumbled across this article I thought it was going to be intentionally funny. In reading it, though, I discovered that it was, in fact, pretty real. What’s ironic is that my generation (millennials) and the surrounding age groups struggle with how to appropriately address one another, handle awkward situations, and put their damn phones away.
Not pointing any fingers, but there’s value in actually understanding how to talk to someone who might be a transgender person, or knowing what pronoun to use in a conversation. There’s also the (basic) but essential information on how to use and put away your smartphone at dinner. (Haha. I’m not kidding.) This piece does a great job of mixing what I feel is sarcastic touches of humor with legitimate advice and it’s honestly something everyone should read.
Featured Image Credit: Myke Simon