Recommendation roundup: March 2018

Hey all,

It’s time for another round of sharing what I’ve been digging lately. Allons-y.

Sufferings in Africa

This is a book by Captain James Riley, a man taken into slavery with his crew after shipwrecking on the coast of Africa. A major factor in convincing Abraham Lincoln to be an abolitionist, I heard about it from the podcast Futility Closet, a compendium of miscellany from the site of the same name.

What I enjoyed about this book so much is as follows.

  1. Straight-forward language that was both easy to read and full of candor. Though at first glance the style might seem boring for its simplicity, I actually found it captivating in its own, curious way.
  2. Riley’s excellent keeping of distances over time. I don’t know why the fact he kept track of miles traveled daily made this book so charming, but it did.
  3. Life lessons everywhere. Riley’s faith, gratitude, thoughtfulness and care for his crew, hard work, and fortitude are startling. Add to that his even-handedness in describing the people he met, his surrender (and faith) in the face of utter helplessness, and the various contrasts between just and cruel treatment, hospitality and rejection, love and hate, and you’ve got yourself a powerhouse for critical thought. I picked this up as part of some research I was doing for a project. I am so glad I did.

Our Fair City

A podcast about a dystopian future where an insurance company has taken over nearly all aspects of the lives of its “policies,” this audio drama podcast is an often outrageous, sometimes sobering satire. With lovable characters like Dr. Herbert West, Andrew Snidge, and so many more, it’s funny, charming, and well produced. While it sometimes veers into territory I’m not fond of (re-writing hymns or Christmas songs to be about the company or its goals), and not all of the content is amazing (some of their season break stuff gets a little tiring), on the whole, I’ve really enjoyed devouring this one.

Children of the Whales

Okay, to be fair, I’ve only seen one episode so far, so please don’t quote me on this being stellar if it turns out to be bad, but just in case it holds up as being as beautiful and interesting as the first episode was, this anime is definitely worth checking out. A Netflix original, it follows a group of people from the “Mud Whale,” a small island drifting through a sea of sand. Its inhabitants consist of the “marked” who can use magic but live shorter lives, and the “unmarked,” who can’t use magic but live much longer. The animation style is beautiful, the characters and plot are interesting so far, and ultimately, I’ve got high hopes. There are only 12 episodes so far, so we’ll see where it goes!


A collaboration between Spielberg (one of my favorite directors) and Disney, The BFG is based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name. Full disclosure, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t compare the two.

In any case, I had a night off the other night (a miracle not of my own doing. Thank you, Jesus!), and since I knew nobody else wanted to watch it with me, I decided to give it a go on my own.

What a journey.

The CG in it is beautiful, the story is light and full of wonder with none of the usually angsty trappings of many stories today (not that I hate that, believe me), and though simple, is tremendously well done. Spielberg does a great job as usual, and all in all, it’s just a beautiful movie. I highly recommend it for anyone, regardless of age.

Bonus, the main character Sophie looks just like my sister when she was younger, to the degree I couldn’t every fully extricate one from the other, so it was fun to cheer for her throughout the whole movie.

Anyway, I think those are some of the major ones I’ve got right now.

Runners-up would include Black Panther (my favorite Marvel movie in a while, and perhaps the subject of a later post), Futility Closet (the podcast where I found Sufferings in Africa), and Colony House, a band I’m really digging. Also, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (an anime that is animated very well with an amazing supporting cast. I recommend watching Fullmetal Alchemist first, though Brotherhood is definitely the better of the two), and as ever, foxtrot, swing, and all other forms of ballroom dancing.

So that’s what I’ve been listening to/watching lately. What are your most recent jams?

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