Ep. 283 The Curiosity Never Ends with Brittany Luse – Transcript

Today we’re joined by award-winning journalist and cultural critic Brittany Luse upon her first anniversary as host of NPR’s It’s Been a Minute. We discuss curiosity as a foundational principal of Brittany’s life, and what comes easily versus what’s more difficult as a veteran podcaster. We also hear about how she decides what to cover on the show, and Brittany’s book club with her niece.

The Stacks Book Club selection for September is Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer. We will discuss the book on September 27th with Brittany Luse.


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*Due to the nature of podcast advertising, these timestamps are not 100% accurate and will vary.

Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to the Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today we are joined by Brittany Luse. Brittany is an award-winning journalist and cultural critic who’s celebrating her one year anniversary as the new hosts at NPR. It’s Been a Minute. Britney also hosted the podcasts For Colored Nerds, Sampler and The Nod. Turned out Britney is also an avid reader and we have the most fun talking about all of the books Brittany gives me book recommendations adds a bunch of things to my TBR. we talk about our shared characteristic of being uniquely curious and into gossip. It is a very good time. Remember our September book club pick is Monsters: a fan’s dilemma by Claire Dederer. Brittany will be back to discuss the book on Wednesday, September 27th. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. If you want more of the stacks, you must join the stacks pack at patreon.com/thestacks. It’s just $5 a month and when you join you have access to a bunch of perks like our Discord channel, that is a total book lovers dream come true. Bonus episodes including some audio from our tour stops and our monthly book club meetup that is full of hot takes and very observant insights. Plus, you got to know that your support makes this podcast possible. If you like the stacks, join the stacks pack because without folks like you joining the stacks pack there is no way that I could make this podcast week in and week out. Head to patreon.com/the stacks and join. Here’s a shout out to our newest members of the stacks pack. Bettina Albert Alyssa Zuniga, Chelsea divan Tez, Jan Modelo, and Lauren Williams. Thank you all so much for joining and thank you to the entire stacks pack. I cannot say it enough. You all are the best and I simply adore you. Okay, now it’s time for my conversation with Britney Luse.

All right, everybody. I am thrilled today to welcome one of the podcasters that I think made me realize it was possible to be a black woman talking about things independently on a podcast. And that is the current host of It’s Been a Minute on NPR, but also a previous host of for color nerds a previous host of the nod previous hosts of actually a lot, a lot, a lot of things, but welcome to the stacks Brittany Luse.

Brittany Luse 2:40
Hi, Traci, thank you so much for having me. That’s such a generous introduction. Thank you.

Traci Thomas 2:44
Well, I’m a fan of yours. I have to tell you. I really the first time I think that I like really heard about you was I had started the show at my show a little bit before and Jason Reynolds was my guest and he were after. Wow. Yeah. He was like, he’s like, do you listen to the nod or like for colored nerds? And I was like, No. And he was like, I think you should really like. And that was like in 2019 I think and so I went and I listened. And then I like went back and listened to like a lot of stuff. And I was like yeah, Jason nailed it. So he’s the teenager Quibi show, right?

Brittany Luse 3:22
Yes, he’s in our Quibi show. And also, I think that he and his co-author of this book All American Boys, Brendon. They were the first like guests that were ever pitched to us at for colored nerds like way, way, way, way, way back. And weirdly enough, like randomly I think we probably mentioned this Afrikaners episode but like I when we met in person for the recording, like all those years ago, probably 2016 2017. Jason, I realized that we had been in an Uber pool before.

Traci Thomas 3:53
We realized that he looks familiar.

Brittany Luse 3:57
Yeah, well, because we had chatted a bit in the Uber Pool. So like, Well, I mean, I was going through this whole thing. I was stressed at work. i My arm was in a sling from stress. It was a wild time when I was first thinking what I was talking on the phone to my dad that morning about somebody who was pissing me off. And I mean, I’ve had the worst reply to kid I would be on the phone the entire time, just having and when he was getting out of the car, he was just like, you know, it seems like I guess he’s like, he’s like, you know, seems like you have a really like you’re in a good position in life right now or something like that. He’s like, it seems like you’d do a lot of cool stuff with your life. He’s like, you know, keep it up. Like, you know, like, I hope I hope things turned out well for you. It’s just really nice.

Traci Thomas 4:39
Yeah, you know, Jason.

Brittany Luse 4:42
Two Black people in an Uber Pool having a chat, that’s all. But yeah.

Traci Thomas 4:45
I love that. Okay, we’re gonna backtrack, I could literally do a whole episode talking about all of my feelings about Jason Reynolds. i Whoa, but I could and I think I might have found the right person to do that with so you’ll have to come back But let’s talk about you. So I always tell people kind of a Start Here, I gave us a semi abridged version of your professional resume. But do you want to tell people a little bit about you where you’re from where you live, you know, just like maybe like your relationship to books, since this is nominally a book show any sort of general thing that we haven’t said, That’s not on your CV or whatever.

Brittany Luse 5:22
So I, you’ve, you’ve mentioned that I host podcast for a living. But that was something I didn’t start until I was 27. Well, I didn’t start hosting a podcast until I was like, almost 27 years old, like 26, almost 27. And I started doing it professionally when I was 27, which was an interesting shift, because before then I had had a cornucopia of jobs. I mean, you need a job pretty much and I did it or I worked in an environment that was adjacent to it, with the exception of maybe medicine. But I was I was like a late bloomer career wise. But when my oldest sister one time called me a lifelong learner, she’s like, You are a lifelong learner. And a big part of that has been reading, I love I’ve always loved reading. I’m trying to read when I was like, Well, before I started school, my mom was a stay at home mom after I was born. I have two sisters, one older, one younger. And before we started, like formal school, we used to have this thing called mommy school, and my mom had been a social worker. And she also like had a lot of friends that were educators. And so she had all sorts of like, every type of like book and so I had a sister who is six years older. So it’s like every type of book, children’s book, chapter books, encyclopedias, children’s encyclopedias, educational workbooks and worksheets, and I love doing all that stuff. I learned how to read before I went to school, because I learned at home through like stuff that my mom had. And I just always loved to do it. I loved how like, you know, you just you could just, you know, everybody says the same thing. You could transport yourself to a whole new place. And also to I just love. I’m nosy. I love information. Sometimes that comes out as a low celebrity gossip. But sometimes, like, I’ll read books, and it feels like celebrity gossip was just so juicy. It’s been really interesting. I have a niece who is five. And she started she learned how to read very young. I mean, she learned how to read maybe before her third birth. I mean, she was really like I was yeah, she learned how to be really real. And she learned that like daycare just went to a regular they were a daycare and Flatbush and. And she has a shot at Mrs. Thomas.

Traci Thomas 7:29
Thomas, yes.

Brittany Luse 7:32
And she had a really amazing daycare that she went to that week. But it was like a lovely neighborhood daycare. And she just learned how to read early. And so it’s been amazing to see over the past couple of years her bloom as a reader. And we recently were on vacation together last week, a family vacation and she was just like, tucked away with a book all of the time. We were on the beach and she were like, do you wanna get the water? No. Do you want to make sandcastles? No, she was just reading. It was like, I don’t know, it was it was really interesting, because it was like a moment where I was able to look at her and kind of realize how I must have looked to other people when I was a kid. But yeah, I mean, now I have a job. I wasn’t really big on homework. When I was at school, my sister, she said I was a lifelong learner. But I wasn’t like being on time I got to high school. I was like, Yeah, high school college. I was like, Yeah, I like the information. I’m like, I don’t need to be here. We’re all y’all discussing this every day, because I don’t even know if we’re all on the same page. But I now I like to say that I am in a job that just is never ending homework because I’m always be searching always. Yes, like learning about something. I’m always reading a bunch of books at once for work. And so now like kind of the reading place where I’m at right now is like reading for pleasure versus reading for work.

Traci Thomas 8:52
Do you get to read for pleasure? Like how much if you had to break it down? Like what would you say percentage wise is what you get to read for pleasure versus what you’re reading for work?

Brittany Luse 9:01
I would say I read probably 75% for work and 25% Because I for pleasure because I’m always reading something for work. And yeah, I mean, one of the great perks of my job is I get a lot of books advance notice I get a lot of advanced copies. Yeah. And also to I get to I get to talk to authors to about their books that I really enjoyed. Or that I had more questions about after I read them so I end up learning a lot. But but also Oh yeah, and then I just get sent a lot of books even if I don’t request them. Like once you get you know once you get on this list.

Traci Thomas 9:36
I’ve actually turned the corner from like, This is so great to leave me alone, because I get sent so many books now that I’m like, you don’t you obviously have no idea who I am because you’ve sent me three copies. Mussolini’s wife and Italian like 1942 historical fixture feature a you know like those books.

Brittany Luse 9:58
I’m just like how do you have my address? How did you find your unless you are unlisted that I probably have never even heard of or-

Traci Thomas 10:07
I’m on the lists of your nightmares? There, I’m sure they’re lovely books, but like some of the lists I’m on I’m like, I don’t know if I’m like, is there another Tracy Thomas, who lives in this house? Okay, one of the things that I love about you, and I think part of the reason I love it is because I do I do relate to it so much is like, you’re so curious. I feel like your breadth of interests are are limitless. You know, like, I feel like you’ve covered so many different things. In your years of doing audio journalism podcasts, however you want to say I think audio journalism sounds fancier. But I also am like, yeah, you’ve done it all. I mean, and so I’m wondering how, how you think about curiosity, which I’m assuming for you is like, sort of innate to you. So maybe you don’t think about it. But if you had to, what might you think about it?

Brittany Luse 11:04
Well, that’s a really good point. Actually, I do think that it is innate. For me, it’s not something that I have to work too hard at. Yeah. But also, one of the things that I have really been blessed with in my life is that I’m surrounded by a lot of curious people, in my friend groups, but also in my family, specifically, all of the older people in my life, all the older people in my life are really curious. So it I never felt like it’s something that like, is only reserved for certain stages of life or certain age groups. It’s like, the curiosity never ends. So that’s like something that I think part of the reason why it’s innate for me is because I seen it practiced around me so much by the elders in my life. And also, I mean, the it’s, I will say about curiosity. It’s something that I really find appealing in other people like when I was dating, before I met my husband eight years ago. And I mean, like, I had a list. I like actually a list of qualities I was looking for in a partner and none of them were like, tangibles. It was like a list of intangibles.

Traci Thomas 12:13
Yeah, it wasn’t like drives a red car.

Brittany Luse 12:15
No, no, I mean, I know people have lists like that more power to you if you feel like this is gonna work or if it has worked for you and gotten you what you wanted. But yes, I had a list of intangibles. And I in for those out there who think that’s judgy. I also would put asterisks next to the qualities that I wanted in a partner that I didn’t yet have myself. But curiosity was one of the biggest ones in my in my husband is an incredibly curious person. So it’s like, we both get really excited about things and learning things and sharing them with each other. And yeah, and so it’s just it’s something it’s, it’s, it’s a quality that I really enjoy, and other people.

Traci Thomas 12:53
Okay, and so you said it doesn’t, it’s not something you really think about like it, because it’s innate in you. What are the things in your job that you feel like you really have to struggle with or like have to practice?

Brittany Luse 13:03
Hmm, well, okay, I’ll say like something that I have had to practice in my job that has somewhat rubbed off on me my personal life is that I, personally have a lot of strong feelings about things that I’m interested in are not. So much. I’m just like, I don’t even know any more about that. Sometimes I’ll just be like, What is this? I’m like, I don’t even need it anymore. It’s just not something for me. But with my job, I mean, we put out two podcasts a week, you’ve combined those podcasts. And that makes the radio show that plays every weekend on it’s been a minute. And and we like you said we cover a variety of topics, partially because I’m interested in a variety of things. And also because I mean, I have an incredible team full of producers and editor and you know, all the other people that that helped make our show happen to NPR, who also I mean, are so different from each other, and have so many like, but also have so many overlapping, and, you know, outside interests. So like, I’m constantly being introduced to new concepts and ideas and things all of the time. But also, like, I mean, what show comes up 52 times a year, is three to four segments in every episode. It’s like, I am not great at math, which is why I work in audio. That’s like, Yeah, I mean, that’s like over 150 segments, I have to produce a year. So there, there are very frequently times where I am introduce it introduced ideas that like I either was not interested in before. And one of the producers like brought it to me in a way that I was like, Oh, that is interesting, or the point of the show is also to kind of like talk about things that are happening in America and to a certain extent around the world and So there are things that I’m not interested in that I should talk about, because they affect a lot of people or many people are interested in them. I eat the biggest Taylor Swift Fan in the world, I’m not really a Taylor Swift fan at all, at all. But I’ve, but she’s very good, I do have period. But she’s somebody that I do have to keep tabs on and keep track of, because she is consequential. Culturally, you know, she’s somebody who she is a huge cultural figure. And so it’s like, you know, like, you don’t love every body that you have to follow. But you know, you don’t, you don’t love every aspect of culture, or pop culture, you know, you don’t love all of the people to like, learn about or read about or whatever. So I think that’s the, that’s probably the thing where I have had to make a practice of being more receptive to things that are outside of like my interest base. And as a result, though, like I end up with, like, so much knowledge that I otherwise wouldn’t have. And I’d become interested in things that I that I didn’t think I would become interested in.

Traci Thomas 16:02
Yeah that makes a lot of sense. Yes. Is there? I mean, you don’t have to get too into the nitty gritty, I’m only asking a lot of these questions, because I’m independent. And it’s me, and I have an editor who edits one side. But like, I don’t have a team of people that are like pitching me ideas, or like helping me create the show. So I’m wondering, like, when things come to you, or when you’re in your team meetings and stuff? How much do you get to be like, no, like, I’m actually not interested in it. And I don’t want to do it, versus like, how much are you bringing? Are you saying, like, we have to do this, like, does it does the buck stop with you? Is it like a vote type situation where like, if people are into it, that’s what happened.

Brittany Luse 16:39
Ultimately, the buck does stop with me, like, we have an editor. And, you know, she has to make sure that the ideas that we want to pursue are structurally sound and like, there’s gonna be there there. But to a certain extent, all of the producers have great story sense. And ask interesting questions. And so we all kind of play that role with each other. Because sometimes, you know, these individuals are coming to me, or sometimes I’m throwing ideas out to them. Or sometimes someone’s like, we really should talk about this thing. Like this is something that actually is affecting a lot of people. And then we’ll try to figure out well, what would be the best approach for our show? Because really, I mean, the way that we’re working on the way that I have, that I and my team are approaching? It’s been a minute now. Which Gosh, it’s I’m talking to you right now. Yeah, August, yeah. In a month, a month from now. I started working at NPR in mid September of 2022. So I’m approaching a year that I’ve been working there, and I’ve been hosting the show. Thank you. But yeah, the approach that we have really wanted to take with the show is that are that we are taking what the show is that culture is this thing that doesn’t happen by accident. So if there is something that is cresting in the culture, something that people are talking about something that’s happening out in the world, there are roots to that, and there’s a tail to that, and we’re going to pull all of those threads out, we are going to have, you know, not just the you know, the culture conversations that that you know, will give you something will that’ll make you like the most popular cool person that like your dinner party or in your chat, or at your water cooler. But also, we really are digging into why a specific cultural thing matters and what like reverberations it creates out in the real world. I think a lot of times people will hear about some of the things that we cover. And they’ll be like, Well, why does it matter that there’s a television show? On AMC, that’s, you know, a remake of Interview with a Vampire and that the vampire is black. And it’s like, oh, well, this is the history of the racial history around vampires. And also, this is some of the history of the neighborhood of Storyville and in New Orleans, in Louisiana, at the turn of the century, and this is how black people regarded, you know, we can pull all of those things out. So it’s like, yeah, this thing that you’re enjoying, or this thing that you’re not liking at all. Yeah, this innocuous this on its face innocuous tick tock trend of the vanilla girl actually has, you know, much scarier roots than it might seem like on its face. But um, I think of it as like a constant conversation where we’re all all of us have, like I said, we have overlapping things that we’re interested in. But everybody also has their own specific background, their own specific interest. You know, the things that they do in their downtime that they’re interfacing with, that maybe not everybody else on the team is interfacing with. And, you know, people are from different places around the country, and everyone’s kind of bringing their spin into it. But at the end of the day, I’m the person who’s going to be, you know, saying the words. My face is on the show art, so people don’t like so thing are capitals to you everything. So yeah, so I do have like ultimate veto power. But we have a pretty, I would say, as long as like the structure is there the structure of the ideas there are we can get it there as a group that pretty much anything’s on the table.

Traci Thomas 20:18
Yeah I mean, I have to say, I was so excited. I was listening to your show, and I went to listen to an episode. And I saw that you had one of my best friends from college and also past guests of this show, Joshua gara on talking Oh, he was lovely. Just Isn’t he great. So, so great. He’s such a people pleaser. He’s such like, like, outgoing. Like, he’s like, so eager. He’s such an evil person. Do so he’s a great guy. He’s so great. And I think what’s funny about Josh is like, so many people like, oh, you know, he’s playing this himbo bah, bah. And Josh was like, Yeah, I have to do all this acting. And I’m like, You’re a fucking himbo. Josh, how dare you. He’s all of the things he describes as Lance like on your episode, he talked about how Lance is loyal and like, sees the good and I’m like, This is you. You might not be as dumb like as like oblivious or whatever. But like, you are a himbo at heart and IRL him. So I love that he like got up there and talked about and I’m like, listen, because I’ve been thinking this for years about him. I’m like, he’s pretending to be this character. But it’s actually-

Brittany Luse 21:21
It was so much fun to talk to him. And also, it was really fun to kind of like peel back the layers of like, what? Yeah, why people are so into him. Because right now, like, people are into him Bose, I think because they’re, they’re hungry for like a different expression of masculinity. So it was really fun to talk to Josh because, I mean, he was so much fun. He was just like, so down to play our silly game himbo mania, but also to, because I mean, he really played one of the best combos in TV history.

Traci Thomas 21:49
I mean, he’s a legendary Hambo. Also, he’s a lover of WrestleMania. So as soon as that came up, I was like, Oh, he’s gonna be Did you know that about him?

Brittany Luse 21:58
I didn’t know. I had a boyfriend who was really, really into WWE. So I know that this is a thing. Anybody who’s into wrestling, they ain’t into it just a little bit. It isn’t No. Oh, no.

Traci Thomas 22:14
It’s it’s a it’s a graphic t shirt moment. It’s home decor. Expenses. It’s trips like Josh is so into it. So when you saw I was like, Oh, she must have known like, not really on social anymore. So I was like, I don’t know. But it’s and then I was like, Oh, she’s so happy right now. Oh, it’s totally the shift gears though. I want to ask you, do you have you read heavy by KSA? layman. Yes,

Brittany Luse 22:39
I listened to that one on audiobook actually. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 22:41
Isn’t it so good on audio good. Audio Book. It’s just so good. It’s one of my favorite books. And one of the like, big things he talks about in that book is revision. And I feel like revision is something that I think about when I think about your career, because I think that like you have you have been you at least your podcasting career like you have been you doing these things like for colored nerds, and then you guys brought it back like you were like, We’re gonna re revamp re we’re gonna come back to this thing. We’re gonna do it again. We’re gonna give it another shot. I think like with your job at it’s been a minute, you came into a show that was existed under Sam sanders that he created. People love Sam, I love Sam. He was our guest last month. It’s actually Sam’s birthday today, as I say, Yeah, happy birthday, Sam, when you hear it. But you came in, and you have to revise the show to make it. It’s been a minute with Britney, loose. And I’m just wondering like, are you? How are you thinking about revision? Are you thinking about it? Or are you just sort of, I don’t know, maybe like living your life and your work of I don’t know, there’s something about you and revision that feels like you are the embodiment of revision, maybe in publicly professional roles to me.

Brittany Luse 23:54
Wow, thank you. First of all, it’s a huge compliment. Well, there’s a couple of ways that I think that I’m thinking about this question. There’s a couple of things that this is bringing up? Well, the first thing to your first question, like how am I thinking about revision with regard to it’s been a minute? Well, with the exception of one person on the team, there is nobody who worked on Sam’s version of IBM, that’s still on the team now. And also, too, I think I also had the added benefit of having so many great guest hosts in between when Sam finished last spring, and when I started last fall. So there were so many different people in the host chair like for a month at a time over. Like that summer before I started that I think the audience got used to hearing a variety of things and from a variety of people. And so I think once they had somebody back in the seat on a regular basis, they were like, okay, like, that’s cool, but I’m not gonna like it. He’s really funny we got when I first started, we got a lot of like, tweets, Instagram messages, emails, it shows up in like the Apple podcast reviews, or people are like, you know, I didn’t think that anybody could replace him. Or like, they’d be like, you know, I was ready to hate you, I thought you’re gonna do a really bad job. I actually like you. And I’m enjoying this new version of the show. Look, the highest compliment.

Traci Thomas 25:27
Lot of backhanded compliments.

Brittany Luse 25:28
Yeah. It’s also like the highest form honestly, of praise, that somebody was like, Oh, I was prepared to fully dislike you. Like I came in with a chip on my shoulder, I came in, ready to hate you. Actually, I really love you. I love that. Um, but yeah, I mean, the approach that I have taken is just, I think the third thing that you mentioned, just kind of like being me. I, unlike many people who who start who are in audio or host podcast now, I didn’t start off in audio. And I didn’t start off with like a producer or anything like that, or whether a producer at like, have someone else’s show or another company when we started for color nerds. Eric and I were producing that and ending it and doing everything 100%. Right, right. Right, right years. And also working on the nod and working on sampler another podcast, I hosted a gimlet media, like I always had to do producing work like cutting things, booking things, right, right, all that stuff. And so I don’t, but as a result, because I didn’t start off working for a local NPR member station, or NPR or another podcasting company, or something, because I started independently, and then was hired to host, I didn’t learn how to fashion myself after the house style or after another person. So any way that I approach like, I don’t approach my voice or a specific slant, in any kind of particular way. And I really focus on just doing work that is quality, and trying to figure out how to get the highest quality work out of myself and the team that I’m working with at a given point in time. And also to, I think I do think about the fact that I have like a pretty, it’s an immense platform, being a nationally syndicated NPR show means it’s a huge deal. I mean, I don’t take that for granted. And so I try to think about what are things that we can put out that are responsible journalism, and things that are informative, but also things that are entertaining and that are gonna like, I don’t know, like tickle the audiences? To a certain degree. But yeah, that’s pretty much the approach that I take with, I didn’t really think about it. So so much as revising as just like, well, who How do I want to show up in this role? I was thinking was a little more me centered than thinking specifically about the show, how do I want to show up in this role, because it was I mean, I was I was inheriting a team, basically, I was, I wasn’t like it typically, when I posted before, I had, you know, hired every single person, individually, and, you know, built the team from the ground up. And I’ve been so fortunate in that I have just such an amazing team, who I adore so much and I love working with. But I had really, yeah, that but like, knowing that I was going to be coming into a new environment full of people who had been working together for some time, like already for at least a few months. And, you know, I didn’t know how they were going to feel about me, I didn’t know how they felt about each other. I know how they felt. So that was actually my bigger concern was just like, I’m stepping into a party that’s already started. When I’m used to starting the pot. I’m used to hosting the pie. Right, right. Right. So that was actually to me, the biggest challenge was like coming into like, a team that was already like, you know, built to a certain degree and moving in and of itself. And so it was like, it was like more so like, how do I fit in with these people, but also like, gain their trust? Like, how do I gain the trust of these people? So I made that, like, obviously, you gain the trust of the listener as well. But you gain the trust of the listener through making entertaining Yes, worthy content, and, you know, doing things in a way that is high quality. So yeah. So in general about revision and all that sort of stuff. I’m a Scorpio so we’re really big into like, death and rebirth.

Traci Thomas 29:30
I did not think you were going there.

Brittany Luse 29:33
And I’m actually I’m not religious at all. But there is this Bible verse whole lot. It is Romans 12. Two, not religious at all, like I was raised in the church, but not religious love, but there’s like one quote from the Bible that I’m like, they did that. And I think it’s Romans 12. Two was like Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And that is something I think about a lot as like the reason why I know that quote is not because I was big into bible quotes, but I don’t have a memory for the Bible very much. But it’s Oprah’s Favorite Bible. Okay, well, and she knows a thing or two about revision. Yeah. And so that’s something I think a lot about is like, I feel like I’m constantly, honestly through a lot of the reading and the work that I do. And the fact that like our episode lifecycles, they change all the time. I are there like beginning and ending all the time. I’m always like working on a new episode, reading a new book, engaging with new ideas, talking to new people. And so I feel like I’m constantly changed by the work that I do. And so like, How can I not show up as a new version of myself? You know, that’s before we even get into just like me as a person growing and changing and maturing. So yeah, like, I know, a lot of like, I feel like, you know, there’s always like an old version of me dying off and a new version of me as being reborn. I know that is, so I’m rolling my eyes.

Traci Thomas 30:56
Rolling. Oh, it’s very blue. It’s very dramatic. But I feel like it’s true. I mean, I definitely can relate to that. Because I think I feel that way too, is like, when you do a weekly show, or bi weekly in your case, it’s like you always have something starting, you always have something ending, you know, yesterday’s episode was about blindness. And next week’s episode is YA lit about incarceration, like, yeah, there’s no way to stay static in these kinds of roles that we have, because the job is to explore breadth and depth of many things, you know, it’s not a job of like, okay, my podcast is about like, my day to day, right? It’s like, we’re constantly getting like input, I think maybe it’s like a way to say, and like Word, we’re turning out put, we’re turning around output. But like, I think for me, and I’m sort of speaking for you, but it’s what I’m hearing from you is like, the input is what affects the output less. It’s not like we have to generate the output ourselves in the same way. Like we’re getting information and we’re condensing it and we’re figuring it out and then giving it to the world and in that figuring out part it’s changing us too.

Brittany Luse 32:07
Yeah, I definitely feel that. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 32:17
Okay, I did not prep you for this. We call this part ask the stacks, people email, ask the stacks at the stacks. podcast.com. They’re asking for a book recommendation. And it’s our job to give them one, I will give them three, you can give them anywhere between one and three, depending on if this speaks to you or not. And you can go first or second, depending on how you feel about the question. So this comes from Ashley and they say I’m looking for a book that will make me cry. Ashley? It can be fiction or not. The tears can be happy or sad. I just want to cry. Ashley, I love you. Whatever you’re going through. We’re here for you. That sounds very bleak. But I also can relate to wanting to cry sometimes when I read a book. Do you want me to go first? Or do you want to go

Brittany Luse 33:01
You go first? I’m like, I’m really thinking about it. You go first. Okay,

Traci Thomas 33:04
I actually have a feel. The first one that popped into my head actually is like a super backless book that I read in high school. And I still think about it makes me sad. Is Tuesdays with maurey by Mitch album. Oh, that book really rocked me I don’t even really remember it well, I just know that he’s like hanging out with Mitch album is like friends with this older guy who’s dying essentially. And the guy’s like telling him his life story and his memories and, and it’s it’s really it’s just like a good sad, dying book. So that one will make you cry. Another one that I think is like a pretty common choice. But this book made me cry very hard. And I know some people hate it. But it’s A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s people have described it as trauma porn. So if you want like very bleak times, and lots of tears, like I kicked my I was on a trip with my best girlfriend. I kicked her out of the hotel room so I could cry alone in Thailand. Like I just need this right. And then the last one I’ll pick is a graphic memoir nonfiction book called CQ by Kirsten Radke. And it’s all about loneliness. And there’s a part of the book where she’s talking about the experiment with the monkeys and the moms and it’s like the baby monkeys. They take the mother’s away and replace them with like, cold metal monkey dolls that have food or they replaced them with like warm, cozy monkey dolls that don’t have food. And it’s like, the way that that affects the baby monkeys and that part really just rip me open. So those are all my books are all sad tears. Actually, I don’t have happy tears. I don’t do that. Okay, Brittany, do you have any tearful books?

Brittany Luse 34:52
Yes, I have one and you know, now that you mentioned it, I am like I don’t I don’t think I end up crying a lot while reading books. Sage, I’m like, maybe I should explore that. But the last book that I can think of that really made me do that. And this is a while ago, I read this book, but it’s so good. The 12 tribes of Hattie by Jana Mathis. It is about it’s like a multigenerational almost like, it almost feels like an anthology, like each chapter is basically a short story. That is, like from the perspective of one of like, 12 people, essentially, it’s about this woman Hattie, who’s like the matriarch of this family that migrates to the north from Georgia and the 1920s. And then, as the story kind of, like, the story moves forward in time, but you get the perspective of a different child with each chapter is the 12 tribes, the 12 children. And it is just, it’s just heartbreaking. It’s just heartbreaking, but it’s really beautiful. And on my mom’s side, we have our family migrated north from Georgia, are you some of our family migrated north from Georgia? And yeah, it was like, I don’t know, I felt like a deep kinship with the lineage of the characters, even if I didn’t share their same experiences in life. But yeah, it’s a heartbreaking story, but it’s very, very beautiful. And I mean, you’ll you’ll rip right through it. It’s really, really good.

Traci Thomas 36:25
I love that. Okay, Ashley, if you read any of those books, let us know. And also everyone else email, ask thestacks at the stackspodcast.com To get your book recommendations read on the air by me and whoever else is joining me. Okay, Brittany, now we get to talk about all your favorite and least favorite books. So we start here with everyone two books you love one book you hate.

Brittany Luse 36:47
Two books I love. One is Caucasian by danzy Senna I just love it. It is such a wild odyssey. It is one of the most incredible books to me about, like family and identity and how differently those things can show up both physically but emotionally and, and yeah, and intellectually. But it also lots of parts of it are just really, really funny. I think that’s one of my favorite things about Danzy Senna’s books is that like she can be writing about the most off the wall shit. Like, or like the most serious shit. You know, like, for instance, Caucasia is about a young girl who basically is forced in like forced to go on the run young biracial girl in the 1970s in New England who’s like forced to go on the run with her white mother and basically poses a white girl because of a whole bunch of other stuff going on. And she’s separated from her older sister, who was forced to go on the run with their black father. And it’s like, that’s obviously there’s a lot going on there. But it’s also there’s so many parts of it that are just so fucking funny. So that is a book that I love. And another book that I love is Maude, Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks is a fantastic novella. And it’s just like, about an ordinary black girl who grows into an ordinary black woman. And each chapter is like a vignette from her life. And it was a book that I don’t know, maybe my older sister had to read it for college or something like that. I have no idea how to copy this book out in my home. And I was younger, because I read it when I was a teen, I read it again, as a young adult, it’s actually getting to be time for you to read it again. Now that I’m grown grown, and I’m a different, I mean, like, you know, you because you see Martha grow from child to like, grown grown married woman. It’s fun to revisit, and just sort of see like a peek into her mind. But again, like I don’t know, many people think of Gwendolyn Brooks as only as very famous Chicago poet. But this novella No, you get to see inside of her mind, and how it works in a totally different way. And Maude has all of these right observations about the world around her. And I really love it because I put this this is something you see across a lot of media that gets mainstream production support or mainstream publishing support, but you see it in books, you see it in plays, TV show film across the board, right? There’ll be I’m sorry, just sometimes really corny stuff that I think is probably made by well meaning black people, but like, it’s one of these things where I’m like, Who is this for? Who are you? Who are you either performing for or who you overexplaining to? Or what like who is this? Yeah, who is this story meant to benefit and Maude Martha, it feels so much like the thing that you would want now like nothing many of us are hungry for now. That’s just like a thing about a black person as opposed to a thing about blackness. When I when I say things I mean, mostly I’m talking about like fiction. There’s a lot of, I mean, obviously nonfiction, there’s a lot of nonfiction that’s fantastic about blackness as it should be right? But are there things that are kind of about blackness that are fiction, but they’re doing it in a really sophisticated way? But there’s a lot of unsophisticated stuff out there that really should be about people but it’s really about blackness. Yeah, Maude. Martha is a phenomenal book about a black girl who grows up into B being a woman and just the ordinariness of her life, but it gets at all of these things like the awkwardness of making white friends and bringing them over to your house. And the but also like it also gets it colorism and how you can feel kind of trapped within marriage like it gets it gets all of those things. Without it being a message and yeah, I mean, yeah, so that book is like a book that I hold very, very dear that I don’t think enough people talk about or know about. So yeah, two books that I love. Hey, what’s the book that you hate? You actually mentioned it I actually hate A Little Life by Yeah, I hate a little life. I didn’t know I maybe I should have read it in book form. I go back and forth. I mean, I other books that i i read books on a variety of forms. Sometimes I read them like physical paper copies. Sometimes I’m reading them on an e reader. And sometimes I am listening to them audiobook a little life. I listened to Oh, audiobook.

Traci Thomas 41:21
Maybe the recipe for disaster.

Brittany Luse 41:22
Yeah I was just like, Damn.

Traci Thomas 41:25
How long is it on audio?

Brittany Luse 41:27
It takes a long time, but I like 24 hours. Yeah, it’s it. I think it might even be that longer possibly longer. It could be in like the 30s I don’t know. But it’s a long audio book, which I don’t mind. I pro tip. Reading memoirs on audiobook is always if you if you’re trying to get into audiobooks, memoirs.

Traci Thomas 41:46
Memoirs read by the author, read by the author. I feel like if you can get a good celebrity memoir read by the author. That’s the gateway like Trevor Noah, Mariah Carey, Mariah Carey. Viola Davis.

Brittany Luse 41:58
Oh, I’m one who I haven’t listened to Jennette McCurdy’s.

Traci Thomas 42:03
Hers is good on audio.

Brittany Luse 42:04
I’m kind of an off handpick, but Isaac Mizrahi. He has his memoirs. And he’s lived an incredibly interesting life. There’s, a lot of times I’ll listen to audiobooks to by people who may be like, I mean, I used to watch his TV show when I was a kid. So like, I’m super nice. It was right here. So it was really fun to listen to. But I also will just like, listen to people’s audiobooks that are just interesting, especially if they’re read by that. Oh, my God, Just Kids by Patti Smith. That one’s like a 20 out of 10. Is it on audio? It’s so good. Oh, it’s so good. Because she’s got that beautiful, gravelly voice. And I wasn’t ever really a big fan of her music. Not to say that I didn’t like it just more so just wasn’t, it wasn’t my vibe wasn’t my flavor. Right? Um, but I probably heard some NPR interview with her about the book, like, years ago. And then, yeah, I started listening to it. I also like I’m a big fan of listening to audiobooks that are location specific. So like, if I’m in LA, I listen to like somebody whose memoir is like, in LA, and then I can kind of like, get a feel for the font. I’m way off topic. But yeah, I just didn’t like a little life. I think I was I think one point I was listening to out loud without headphones or something like that. When I was like cleaning or you my husband were moving. He was like, What is this sad s book? Yeah. But I think for me, I felt like I, I was, I couldn’t get a feel for why the offer made the characters suffer. So like lustre by Raven Leilani is a phenomenal book. And the main character of that book suffers, suffers quite a bit. But there was something about the way that it was written in the way that it was approached. That didn’t make it make me feel as the reader like it was for naught or for no reason. Yeah. Or, like, give me questions about like the author’s vantage point. And that a little life for me. But I know it’s a very divisive, because I know people love it. You love it- you just mentioned it.

Traci Thomas 44:07
I’m in the middle. No, I don’t love it, or you don’t want me to make you cry. I was the question. You know, I was giving a specific recommendation. I liked the book when I read it. But every time I think about the book, I have a new problem with the book, like every time I go back in my brain, and I’m like, why did she do that? Or like, this is not what people say that it is. And a lot of times for me, my problems with books sometimes are how I feel like the world has received them versus what I’ve actually read off the page real. Like there are books where people are like, Oh, this book is a searing indictment of blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, this book had a lot of storytelling problems, and it was not a searing indictment. It was a good idea but was a big mess after 250 pages. So a lot of times like my book, criticism brain is also critiquing, like, what actually happened versus what people wanted or felt like happen And because that like I think sometimes people jump to, to fix books or movies or TV shows to make them be a thing they can like, does that make sense? Like I like I like that about the Barbie movie, like people were like, Oh, the Barbie movies such as feminist that or not. And I’m like, the Barbie movie has serious storytelling issues, the feminism is weird, like the movie’s about Ken.

Brittany Luse 45:25
Ken is the most well-developed character. And like I had, I had a good time, like I saw the movie friends and fun, I had a lot of fun. And I thought that there were a few that was really cute. And like, I thought that it was like it had a lot of interesting ideas in it and like, there are some quibbles I have with the execution of some of these ideas, or how some of these ideas where I’m just like, Oh, if we just worked on the script a little bit more about we work. I thought the performances were great. The production design was great. And it was a good it was it was a key. It was good. It was a good little time. Yeah, but yes, I agree with what you’re saying where it’s just sort of like, this has to be something and-

Traci Thomas 46:02
Something has to be the most important film about I can’t work in feminism in America. Can you believe it? And I’m like, No, I can’t believe it. That’s not what we want. Like, it’s it was cute. It was about that. Anyways, what are you currently reading right now?

Brittany Luse 46:17
I’m reading a couple things. So my aforementioned niece and I, who’s five, she’s five, she’s awesome. We don’t we used to live in the same city. And now we don’t anymore. And so we are in a book club. Me and her. were reading Matilda by doll, which is a book I loved when I was growing up. And it’s fun, because it’s like, it’s like, she’s started reading chapter books. And this one is like, like, it’s hard to find chapter books that are age appropriate, but still, like feel exciting or challenging. or So this one’s like a little bit of a stretch. And so it’s like, it was fun. Because we were on vacation last week, you got to read like next to each other. She’s like, a book club is when two people read in the room together. And I was like, it can’t be for everybody. But that is an option. And so it was cool, because we got to kind of like talk about it. And she like asked me what a speedometer was. And I was trying to explain to her and then I was like, oh, no, you still send a child seat in the back of the car. You know what the hell I’m talking about. But, but it was fun. Like there were certain British isms that we were both kind of like, I don’t know. But she’s so smart. It’s so fun. And she’s been reading the book and I read a book. So she got two copies from like a used bookstore. So I have a copy. And she has a copy. So I’m reading that. I’m also reading. I’m in a movie club with so many smart and wonderful friends. And one of my friends is a TV writer. And he suggested months ago that I read betrayal by Howard by Harold Pinter. So I’ve been reading that, which is a play. And I yeah, I do three plays.

Traci Thomas 47:43
I love plays. I was a theater major. So I like to read plays.

Brittany Luse 47:47
Yeah, I just I there’s something really fun about them. And also to sometimes it’s like you get that like that hit of story because I love story. So you get the hint of story.

Traci Thomas 47:56
If you don’t want to commit to a whole book thing you can really you don’t need all the description, you can just have the action. Exactly, exactly. These are all plot basically, literally, it’s just yeah. It’s like rock candy, or it’s just like everything’s been boiled down. And you can read them in one setting because they’re meant to be like two or three hours long. Like, I’m not I don’t have to give you seven days for this book. I can be in and out.

Brittany Luse 48:20
Exactly. And I also been reading Dyscalculia Oh, yeah, mispronounce this person’s name by Camonghne Felix. But ya know, I’ve been I’ve also been reading dyscalculia. And those are the things that I’ve been reading for fun. And the thing that I’ve been reading right now for work is an upcoming nonfiction book called fair play by a sports writer Katie Barnes. They wrote this book that is this deeply researched and reported exploration into gender and sports. We’re working on a segment about the current surge in popularity, or the recent surge of popularity, the WNBA I recently went to my first WNBA game as an I’m an I’m an anti sports girly, and I had the time of my life. I lost my shit that I was like, maybe the fear of missing this whole time is women’s sports. Like maybe I would have liked sports, if I was centered in them. And so I Yeah, and so like, now I’ve like, like me, my husband are gonna go back to another game. Like keeping up with highlights and the scores and things like that getting because the playoffs are coming. So So yeah, it’s like I’ve been I’ve been like anti sports. Another fun thing, like I said, it’s been rubbing off in my real life and really being like, I’ll be open to something new. So yeah, so those are the things that I’m reading right now.

Traci Thomas 49:42
I love it. I’m a big sports person. I love sports. I can watch any sport basically, I could give any sport the time of day except for I’m not wild about boxing like I don’t like hitting so any physically hitting bare body parts together. I can’t do like I And then weirdly enough, whatever

Brittany Luse 50:01
Boxing I can follow, but also part of is that it’s like it’s very straightforward and I have rules I cannot remember. Same as I can’t play games, because I can’t follow unless it’s like a board game where they have everything written down. If it’s like chess or checkers, I can’t even remember how to play checkers. I’ve never played checkers because

Traci Thomas 50:18
Yes, you and I are different here. I love a rule my life is I feel there is a rule, I will know it and I will tell you, you’re breaking it like, Oh, that’s not the rule. Oh, sorry. Oh, sorry, you’re playing checkers actually, um, you can’t do that. So you lose a turn my turn again. It’s like the combination of loving a rule and being super competitive for me is like, the center of my personality. And I can that’s the one time I can never be chill. If someone like breaks a rule in a game. I’m like, Uh huh. So nice, thank you, you’re wrong, you lose by how do you pick the next book you’re gonna read.

Brittany Luse 50:56
A lot of times, it’s determined by work, and headline. And then like, right now, as I mentioned, I’m reading three things for fun. And one thing for work, because we’re kind of in like a hiatus moment for the next nine weeks. So this is kind of like a slower period where I can sort of be like, Oh, I’m gonna, you know, like, like, choose what I want and kind of enjoy it. But the, but like, I have kind of random lists in different places of things that I want to read. And also, I get sent a lot of books too. So there’s like, a lot of books to choose from to crack open. But the other thing too, is also like a people get a lot of like, people give me recommendations. So like, you made a fool of death with your beauty.

Traci Thomas 51:40
Oh that’s our book club pick for August.

Brittany Luse 51:43
I know, I’m so excited to read it. I have been me, it’d been on my mind and on a list of, you know, for me to read for a while, but I was like at Amtrak station, I needed something to read their next four hours. And I had that gorgeous, beautiful cover. And so I was like, boom, got it. And I mean, that was cool. That was a good one. But then reading that one got me into like, oh, yeah, I forgot. I love reading romance, because I do like reading romance a lot. I was like, Oh, I forgot to live reading romance. And so now I’ve had red, white and royal blue on audiobook for like two years, but I had never gotten around to it. But now that the movie is out people are like, you know, the movie, the book is better than the movie. So I’m like, let me go ahead and start listening. Like that’s the next thing. I’m gonna start reading. Okay, so I’m like, that’s how I sort of just like, I don’t know, it’s like, what’s my vibe? And do I actually have free time?

Traci Thomas 52:29
Yeah. Totally. Are there any genres that you don’t like or that you avoid?

Brittany Luse 52:37
Well, I would say, I’m not big into animals. Okay, but I really enjoyed Sabrina amblers

Traci Thomas 52:48
how far the light reaches?

Brittany Luse 52:51
So that’s the thing is like, I get I can kind of be convinced into reading-

Traci Thomas 52:57
Yes. I feel the same. Yeah, I felt the same about that book. I was like, I don’t like ocean. I was like, sea creatures? That and I’m scared.

Brittany Luse 53:05
Interesting. I am scared, but I do actually like the ocean. Like, I am afraid of it. But I do like it. But yeah, I was like animals. Are we sure? I love crabs. They didn’t read a book about crops, right? No, thanks. For the first chapter about goldfish. I was like,

Traci Thomas 53:19
I hate it here. No, yeah. I when I started the book, I was like, it was the same thing you were saying for I want to hate this. Everyone says it’s great. I want to hate this. And then I was like, okay, so Sabrina emmalin is a genius. Cool, right?

Brittany Luse 53:29
I was like, because I read their essays. And I was like, this person. You’re really right. But I was like, the true test will be can you get me to care about animals? And it’s like, well, you did. And that’s like, yeah, like, just like nothing. I’m not just nothing I like don’t care about animals, like in general, but just more so. Like, they’re not my favorite reading subject. But then now I’m like, Well, now I gotta read Edie Young’s book. For me, too. Now, I guess I will just love animals now.

Traci Thomas 54:01
Call me when you read Marley and Me That’s how we’ll know you really? Well, animals.

Brittany Luse 54:07
That’d be they’ll actually be exotic for me because I’m not really a pet girly.

Traci Thomas 54:11
I’m not either. I’m not into it. I’m allergic to everything.

Brittany Luse 54:15
We have albino frogs when I was growing up because the maintenance was low and we got them from my piano teacher. It’s a long story and also because I’m allergic to everything we didn’t know they’re gonna be albino until they grew. They fully grew and I was like, Girl Why don’t you tell us these scary as frogs with red eyes.

Traci Thomas 54:33
Anyway thats another story. I love that and you’ve never had a pet then.

Brittany Luse 54:37
Hello? Hello. Hello.

Traci Thomas 54:42
What’s your ideal reading setup, location time of day beverage snack temperature. accoutrement.

Brittany Luse 54:52
Where I end up reading most often is either in my four or five. I’m reading in bed before sleep Okay, now all the time, I also am like a huge tick tock user. I mean, the other thing is I think it’s like I read all this stuff I do read a lot. Like I actually do read a lot, but I also like watch a ton of television. I watched so much trash garbage television, and I watch a sickening amount of TikToks so I also have like a big TikTok before bed, which everyone’s like oh, that’s bad, but it’s like you know what? You only get one life so who cares? But I see Yeah, for pleasure. I’m reading in the bed at night. And then but the thing is, is that I had to bring something really juicy and then I’m just up being like awkward kid, had me like that with you made a fool a death with your beauty. Oh, my God. Babalola had me like that with Honey and Spice. Gonna bring this college romance, losing my shit every night. And Emily Henry has had me in a chokehold in that way repeatedly. Also Rebecca Weatherspoon, if you’re into the the if you’re into the more erotica, more romance, Rebecca Weatherspoon will have you all the way fucked up so if I really get juicy romance, then my ass is up and then also too I’ll say Caucasia, any Danzy Senna book. New people- I’m like, Maria, girl!

Traci Thomas 56:13
I still think about Maria and where she was when the book ended.

Brittany Luse 56:16
Under the bed! Like, Girl, I think about that all the time. What is going on? So those books like that will have me messed up and then if I have to read for work, I will sit on my couch and usually it’ll be for has to be first thing in the morning before I get all like I enjoy the books that I read for work, but something about knowing that it’s for work. Same thing with the documentaries, I have to watch documentaries now it’s documentaries because of the strikes, but like a lot of TV shows films and things like that. I love watching them, but I tried to keep separation between what I’m doing because there’s a lot of things that like the watching that I like for work, but I try to keep it for the most part to a working time so that I feel like some separation between my work life and my personal life.

Traci Thomas 57:00
Okay, you mentioned documentary. I was not planning to talk to you about this, but have you watched the deepest breath on Netflix?

Brittany Luse 57:05
No. What is that?

Traci Thomas 57:06
Right? What is this, my whole personality?

Brittany Luse 57:09
Oh my gosh, my husband is a documentary film editor and so we watch a lot of this in my household.

Traci Thomas 57:15
It is about freediving. Do you know what that is?

Brittany Luse 57:21
Oh, my claustrophobia is-

Traci Thomas 57:24
It will make you sick. Okay, I had nightmares after I watched this movie. It is about these two free divers. It’s a sort of Love Story thriller. And for me horror film because it takes place in a place I do not like the ocean. It is so captivating. I after I finished watching it. I spent the next 36 hours doing nothing but researching free diving and free diving related things. I got no work done. I was like supposed to read an entire book over this past weekend. No, couldn’t do it couldn’t even open the book. I was like, Bitch, you’re writing essays about your life. How dare you when people are freediving. You have to watch it. It’s insane.

Brittany Luse 58:03
I’ll watch my husband edit a piece. Maybe it was a year or two ago for like VICE News or something like that. That was like about like deep sea divers. This woman who has deep sea diving because her father had done it. But the woman who was like the person who was like the journalist who went with them and followed them. She like did all this breath training and all this stuff like that. I was like,

Traci Thomas 58:31
give me give me a boat. Give me a submarine and I don’t want to submersible. I don’t want to be that, like Viana. I’d like to be on the submarine Nemo. Right? I might as deep as I’m going.

Brittany Luse 58:41
I am a fabulous swimmer. I have survived a boat thinking it makes sense. Like it was a titanic size. But yeah, I feel like but like it was like in the middle of a small bay and like a small lake but like, you know, I don’t have I don’t really fear water. I feel like the depths of the ocean though. And so I don’t want to be I don’t need to be in a submarine to be down there. I don’t need to be holding my breath for 910 25 minutes to go down the diving deep. feeling that pressure in the dark.

Traci Thomas 59:13
Yeah, the movie gets you makes you feel like you’re there without having. Okay, I just have a few last quick ones for you. What is the last book that made you laugh?

Brittany Luse 59:24
I haven’t written funny lately. I mostly have been reading a lot of well, actually. No. When I started reading Matilda last week with my niece. Okay, I was like, no wonder I liked this book so much. Hilarious, silly. Yeah, so that’s probably the last book that made me laugh.

Traci Thomas 59:39
What about a book where you felt like you learned a lot?

Brittany Luse 59:42
Okay, so, um, gosh, I’m always reading books that made me feel like I learned a lot for work. But there was one that I read recently, in the past few months that I just really like, I ate it up. I mean, what a period in my life that I call mom curious where I’m like, you know, exploring the possibility of having children And at some point fairly soon and there’s this book by this writer and journalist and author Virginia soul Smith called fat talk. So I read like, a fair amount of books about like, she like raising kids or like what you know it’s something that comes up with work and sometimes it just like I find them interesting or I know that my friends are looking at those books too. But it’s called actually have a right next to me. It’s called fat talk parenting in the age of diet culture by Virginia soul Smith. I learned so much about how we think about children and fatness, or how we’ve been conditioned to think about children and fatness, and actually what matters when feeding children. And like their nutrition. Yeah, it’s a great book. And also like, I also like I follow like, a lot of parenting content. And, and like the whole thing about like, what, how and what to feed your children, obviously, yeah, you’re teaching them how to eat. And so I know that there’s a lot that goes into that. But there are some people out there that make it seem like it’s like this. Not like the flu, the child’s pickiness or anything like that, all that stuff, I think is pretty normal and difficult, but like just that, like you can feed your children the wrong food and it’s gonna ruin their life. And, and yeah, she gets into so much research around that that is just like girl no. Oh, and another book actually wait one more this. Okay. I would recommend I recommend to anybody. And if you haven’t had a lease on our like, you gotta have a lease on? Oh, I haven’t. But I know about this book by Elise Hu. The book, I learned so much about the technology in the business of beauty, not just in South Korea, which has like just a hugely gigantic and all encompassing beauty industry, which she gets into in the book. But it also just like where the beauty industry is going and how we see that, like making waves in the United States. Yeah, I’m really interested in beauty culture. I love reading stuff about like beauty culture. And I thought this book was phenomenal. And Elise is such a great reporter and in the book, I just I swallowed it. It was so good.

Traci Thomas 1:02:17
Okay, okay. Okay, sorry, you’re adding to my list. I always say we will add to my list, but I always get so excited that I ended up reading those books right away. So I’ll be I’ll be giving you a book report shortly. Okay, two more questions. One is, if you are a high school English teacher, what’s the book you would assign to your students?

Brittany Luse 1:02:34
Maud Martha? That is I think it’s like the perfect I think being I think being teenaged is like the perfect time to read that book. And I think that like very few books that I read, if any, when I was in high school, I mean, granted, like, everybody has different experiences. I grew up going to school around a lot of white people, and white teachers. But we, I don’t think ever read any books that were from the perspective of black women or girls. I read them on my own, but they weren’t assigned to me, right? And then and the writing is so beautiful, and the story is so rich. And I think that like, I think what you what books you read in school, teach you how to consider other people’s interiority. And yeah, and I think that, like, I am always hungry for black woman’s interiority, black femme interiority in literature. And when I’m in nonfiction, what I’m reading, and I think that yeah, I think that there’s a lot of people in this country that would do well to have that perspective as well.

Traci Thomas 1:03:42
Okay, last one. And this kind of ties in if you could require the current president of the United States, Joseph Robinette Biden to read one book, what would you want it to be?

Brittany Luse 1:03:51
Oh, my gosh.

Traci Thomas 1:03:55
Your face, you’re like disgusted by the

Brittany Luse 1:03:58
Big job. And it’s so massive. It’s such a massive question. I think, oh, you know what, I read this way back in the day. So way back when TaNihisi Coates was writing for The Atlantic blogging for The Atlantic, he led this online, like, book club, basically, for people who are reading what is considered like one of the essential books about the civil war, Battle Cry of freedom, the Civil War era by James McPherson. I should actually revisit that, but I think I don’t know that. Oh, it’s I mean, it’s a thick. I mean, this is like a foreign shirt. It’s a big, it’s a thick book. But it’s kind of like the I think it’s kind of like the Civil War history book. And it really is really helpful for me to understand, like, Okay, what’s up this empire high school history, one of my high school history teachers, the one that taught like the Civil War i Like a laxative was, even though I’m from Michigan, he was a reenactor for the Confederacy. No, who was from Georgia and kept a confederate flag on the back of his classroom. Yeah. On the back wall. No, yeah. And people just thought it was a funny quirk.

Traci Thomas 1:05:21
So funny ,weirdly.

Brittany Luse 1:05:23
Yeah, weirdly enough, me and my older sister were like to his favorite students. It was so weird because I was like, I didn’t particularly like him. But I think I was just always watching him. I was like, I was I was like, Oh, just this environment.

Traci Thomas 1:05:37
I had a teacher, who was like, heavy Republican guy loved her. And I remember I said something about Condoleezza Rice. And he like, got mad at me. And but he also ended up writing my college recommendation letters, what he loved. But I was also like, I was like, Don’t fucking Condoleezza Rice me, motherfucker.

Brittany Luse 1:05:57
But yeah, no, I think that I think that that book is like one of the most I didn’t think I would be I was into history books necessarily, or like, big, thick American writing history books. Until I read that one. It just it you really understand, like the formation of capitalism in the United States. And you understand, like, what was all at stake? You’re different, the different parts of the software and you also understand a lot of foundational things about the the business of slavery. So yeah, I would say I would assign them that book.

Traci Thomas 1:06:33
All right, everyone that this has been a conversation with Brittany Luiz. Brittany, we’ll be back the last week of September on September 27. To discuss monsters of bands dilemma by Claire Diderot. If you’ve been paying attention to me on social media, you know, this is a book I have been dying to do. I think Brittany is just the person to delve into this book, because there is a lot of stuff in it. So we’ll be back at the end of the month for book club. Brittany, thank you so much for being here.

Brittany Luse 1:07:01
Thank you for having me. This was so much fun. I never really get to talk. The books I read, but I read a lot. I’m realizing now talking to you.

Traci Thomas 1:07:08
I’m glad that you read a lot because it gives us lots to talk about everyone else. We will see you in the stacks

All right, y’all. That does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you again to Brittany Luse for being our guest. I’d also like to say thank you to Emma Gordon for helping to make this conversation possible. Make sure you listen when Brittany returns for our September 27 episode, which will be a discussion of the Stacks book club pick monsters a fans dilemma by Claire Dederer. If you love the show on on inside access to it had to patreon.com/stacks and join the stacks pack. Make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you’re listening through Apple podcast, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stacks. Follow us on social media at the stacks pod on Instagram threads and tiktok and at the stacks pod underscore on Twitter. And you can of course check out our website the stacks podcast.com This episode of the Stacks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin MacWrite. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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