Alice Munro Dear Life

Whenever I go to the bookstore, I usually head straight to the memoir section, then literary fiction, then psychological thrillers, then cookbooks… but never short stories. It seems like a lot of effort to dig into a story just to have it end abruptly — especially compared to a novel or memoir you can sink your teeth into. But! All this changed when I cracked a copy of Dear Life, a collection of stories by Nobel-Prize-winning author Alice Munro. I’ve been reading it before bed, and each story feels quiet and quotidian, until suddenly you gasp and clutch your heart. The New York Times calls her “one of the great short story writers not just of our time but of any time,” and I can see why. (Any other recs?) — Joanna

LaTonya Yvette

Do you have a favorite photo that someone took of you? Writer LaTonya Yvette recently asked that lovely question. Her own treasured snapshot was taken as she chatted with a friend at a birthday picnic. I love those rare photos where you recognize yourself. — Joanna


When I first broke out this mini screen cleaner at a Cup of Jo meeting, you might’ve thought I was Edison showing them a lightbulb for the first time. Oh my gosh! What is that? So cool! You spray the lipstick-size cleaning mist on a laptop or phone screen, then use the spongy sides to squeegee the screen dry. I know! It’s the smallest most boring-sounding thing. But, trust me, it infuses a surprising amount of satisfaction into the everyday. — Jenny

On a recent road trip with my 17-year-old daughter, we listened to an old episode of the Dear Sugars podcast, featuring writer Gemma Hartley. The topic was “invisible work” (aka “mental load” and “emotional labor”), which describes the endless number of tasks we (mostly women) do that go unseen yet take up an enormous amount of psychic energy. Think: replenishing laundry detergent, scheduling doctor’s appointments, making sure your kid has shoes for the bat mitzvah… I could go on and on, as I’m sure you can, too. I thought I’d listen to the episode and feel resentful, but instead I also felt validated. Why? Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing the invisible work for so long and I know how those little things add up to something bigger, or maybe it’s because my daughter looked at me and asked “You do all that?” Either way, it felt good. — Jenny

P.S. More fun things, and 6 great podcasts.

(Computer photo by Franny Eremin. Podcast photo by Peter King of Christine Harris wearing Auralgard II Ear Defenders in London.)