Reading, Watching, Listening: The Summer Vacation Edition

There’s no beach vacation planned in our near future — we nixed even a quick overnight in Lancaster, Pennsylvania due to a toddler who refuses to sleep well anywhere but her own house — but that’s not stopping me from changing up my media diet a bit during these hot, hazy months.

After I finished When Breath Becomes Air a few weeks ago, as tears streamed down my face, I thought, “That’s it. I need a break. No more cancer memoirs. No more sadness. No more books this summer that weigh heavy on my heart.” I declared it the summer of fluff reading.

In my world, fluff isn’t a pejorative. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, coming from this girl who was raised on fluffernutters, thinks Boston Globe whoopie pies trump all others thanks to the inclusion of fluff in their filling, and can — and will — eat a jar of fluff in close to a single sitting. Fluff makes me happy.

I started the summer with a bang, flying through Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible in just a couple of days. It was, as I pined for while writing my intentions list for this year, a book that I just didn’t want to put down. It reminded me of Prep, Sittenfeld’s first novel, and it made me want to reread Pride and Prejudice, the book on which it’s based. Though…does Jane Austen count as summer fluff? Hmm. Maybe that will be a fall read.

Here’s what I’m putting on my to-read, to-watch, and to-listen lists in this summer of fluff.


  • Miller’s Valley. Anna Quindlen’s newest novel, which I already had out on loan from the library, but my digital checkout expired before I finished it. When I got my $45 credit in this week’s Apple e-book settlement, that was the first book I bought.
  • Walk With Us: How “The West Wing” Changed Our Lives. A series of essays inspired by The West Wing, continuing a current (re)obsession. See also, below.
  • Yes, Please. Another digital checkout that expired before I could read it. (See a pattern?)  I miss Parks and Rec. Give me some Amy Poehler.
  • In the Unlikely Event. I’ve been holding on to the newest Judy Blume for well over a year. It’s time to get back to her.
  • Harry Potter? I’m dreaming of the days when I’ll be able to start reading the series to my kids. I haven’t reread them since the first time around, but feel like I should. This may be a project that extends well beyond the summer. Like, into next summer. And maybe 2020.
  • The Ringer. How could I say no to the newest incarnation of Grantland?
  • Motherwell. A new, and really impressive, collaborative parenting blog. No surprise that it’s also one of the sites where I’d most like to see my own name.


  • Mad Men. I’m halfway through Season 6. Well, let’s be honest. I’ve been halfway through Season 6 for about six months now. It’s time to wrap up my time with Don Draper, already.
  • The West Wing. My homework assignment for listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast…though I *may* have skipped just a little bit ahead. A season ahead. (It gives me more time to focus on other important to-dos.)
  • HBO? We gave up our HBO subscription a while back but now I’m wondering if we should renew. There’s Veep (who thought reality could be stranger than that fiction?), John Oliver, the Sports Guy’s new show, and, of course, the pending return of Larry David. Hmmm. Maybe we’ll just rewatch all of our seasons of Curb, first. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.


Tony Kornheiser will soon be gone for the summer, and some of my other favorites will be taking some time off this summer, too. Seems like a good time to find a few new podcasts, catch up on episodes I haven’t listened to in my feed, and maybe even try Audible. Does anyone else use it?

  • The Jess Lively Show. New to me, but I’m enjoying skimming through her 150+ past episodes.
  • Fresh Air. I haven’t listened regularly to Terry Gross in a while. Her shows always give me new ideas, books, and people to check out.
  • Keepin’ It 1600. Jon Favreau and Dan Pfieffer dissecting the week in politics every Thursday? Yes, pleaseandthankyou.
  • #amwriting with Jess and KJ. On writing, and everything writers do to avoid, you know, actually writing.

What’s on your list for the summer — for the beach, your commute, or anywhere else in between? What should I add to mine?



7 thoughts on “Reading, Watching, Listening: The Summer Vacation Edition

  1. I am SO with you on the entertaining fiction for the summer. It’s been heavy around here too! And I keep trying to convince my husband to watch the West Wing with me from the start! I will check out Walk With Us.

    • It’s my next book! And if you aren’t listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast, it’s a perfect excuse/reason to rewatch the series. Oh, that theme music makes my heart soar. 😊 Happy summer!

  2. Love the image! I am also stuck in the middle of season 6 on MM. Really powering through to finish Parenthood though.. Maybe will eventually get back to MM but I lost interest… I tried Yes, Please… You will have to let me know what you think. I am sad to say I was disappointed. It was not as funny as I think Amy Poehler actually is. Speaking of “fluffy” summer reads- Have you read Valley of the Dolls? I tore through it the summer of 2000, between college and grad school, by the Seekonk River on my lunch break as a temp at a law firm. Loved, loved loved this one. Another fabulous “fluffy” read I enjoyed last summer- All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner. And Who Do you Love. Or really any of her books:) Love her.

    • Oh, Parenthood was the best. My go-to maternity leave show and a good excuse for a cleansing cry if ever there was one! Adding your books to my to-read list. I’ll let you know about Yes, Please if I get to it…I fear my reading eyes may be bigger than my stomach. 🙂

  3. I’ve been binging on the newest season of Orange is the New Black and season two of Grace and Frankie. I seem to only allow myself to use Netflix in the summer. Goes with my laziness this summer.

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