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What's Making Us Happy: A guide to your weekend reading and listening

A detail from the cover of <em>Jaguar II, </em>the new album from Victoria Monét.
Jagmart
A detail from the cover of Jaguar II, the new album from Victoria Monét.

This week, Natasha Lyonne offered to solve a crossword puzzle with you, two shows that normally have writers claimed they could wing it, and NSYNC is in a "Better Place."

Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

The audiobook of Steph Fry's Mythos

/ Chronicle Books
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Chronicle Books

I took a vacation to London for a few days, and on the plane I listened to Stephen Fry reading his 2017 book Mythos, which is his retelling of the Greek myths. He's a very funny writer and performer and he is an expert narrator.He's also fascinated by history and language, which made this book very much in his wheelhouse. He lays the myths out in a very strict chronology so that they all seem like part of one continuous, serialized history instead of little standalone tales. And he's imbued them with cause and effect, so that one story casts ripples into future ones. He is also only too happy to take very long, discursive dives into how the names of all these characters have infiltrated the English language. Plus, not for nothing, it's Greek myths — it's queer AF. It is hella queer — Hellenic queer. — Glen Weldon

Why We Love Baseball by Joe Posnanski

/ Dutton
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Dutton

Sportswriter Joe Posnanski (who I havepodcasted with) has a new book out called Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments. I've been listening to Joe read it, which I think is an ideal way to enjoy it. One of the things that happens with sportswriters, and especially with baseball writers, is that it can get very romantic. But Joe turns what can be a weakness into a strength — I have choked up multiple times while listening to this book. I'll also note that Joe is meticulous about specifying the difference between a record in all of baseball, a record in Major League Baseball, and a record in the American and National Leagues, which, of course, does not include the Negro Leagues. This is the kind of thing that makes me feel plugged into history books that are really trying to get things right that haven't always been gotten right. — Linda Holmes

Victoria Monét's album Jaguar II

I am currently very obsessed with Victoria Monét's debut studio album, Jaguar II.She's been putting out singles and EPs for a while, including the great Jaguar. And of course, she's been writing hits for people like Ariana Grande — she worked on "thank u, next" and she co-wrote"7 Rings."She knows how to craft a good pop song and her entire album is a great earworm. It is drawing from the '70s, from the '90s, soul, R&B, there's a duet with Earth, Wind & Fire. I'm especially obsessed with "On My Mama" — I fell in love with it in part because of the visuals for the music video. The choreography is by Sean Bankhead who has been killing it lately with music videos, especially for female artists, including Normani, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B. It's fantastic. — Aisha Harris

The Beaches' album Blame My Ex

The Beaches is a Canadian band that has been rattling around for a few years. Their new album is called Blame My Ex and there's one song — which has been out for a few months and is completely and utterly irresistible — is called "Blame, Brett." It's very clever, very self-aware, and it's unbelievably catchy. "Brett" is such a funny name to pick for that song. You're going to have such a fun half hour with this terrific little record. — Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

The Netflix film Love at First Sight is the kind of solid romantic comedy that used to be thick on the ground and now requires a little more tracking down. Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy are very charming as a couple who meets on a plane and then has to figure out how to reunite once they land. Rob Delaney is a delight as Richardson's loving dad. (Do they dance together? They do.) A swell, cozy watch.

I've just started reading Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein, and if you just said to yourself, "Wait, which one is Naomi Klein again?" then you know what the book is about.

Also: Coming this week, dropping on Wednesday on Apple TV+, the series The Super Models, about Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, is the latest entry in the genre of documentaries about people made by those people, and it should be taken as such. With that said, I found a lot of what these women and the people who worked with them had to say quite in


Beth Noveyadapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)