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Best books, movies, TV, and online content of 2021

BEST BOOKS
What’s the Best Book of the Past 125 Years? We Asked Readers to Decide. (New York Times, 12-28-21)

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (Do read why they won.)

2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

3. 1984 by George Orwell

4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

5. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Nominees in

Science Fiction: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Horror: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Nonfiction: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Children’s Book: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Cookbook: The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer

Self Help: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

      Three writers — John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner — received nominations for seven of their books.

     Other popular authors included James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood and Virginia Woolf, who each had five books nominated.

     And readers nominated four of Joan Didion’s books: “The Year of Magical Thinking,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” “The White Album” and “Play It as It Lays.”

Runners Up

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

 


The most popular US library books of 2021 (Clarisa Diaz, Quartz)
The 100 Must-Read Books of 2021 (Annabel Gutterman, Cady Lang, Arianna Rebolini, and Lucas Wittmann, Time)
Best Books of 2021 (New York Public Library)
74 mini-reviews to help you find a great book to read next (David Bauer, Medium, 1-5-21) Book recommendations, from climate change to robotics, from food to superforecasting, from leadership to writing, and more.
The best books for white people to learn (just a little) about Black people (Lawrence Goldstone, Shepherd for Authors)
How will sharing book recommendations help me sell books?

THE BEST MOVIES:
Best movies of 2021 (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post) Almodóvar just gets better, family films make a comeback
The movies that wowed Post critics in 2021 (Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post)
30 Movies That Are Unlike Anything You’ve Seen Before (David Sims, The Atlantic, 5-30-20) These movies "are singular, whether they’re experimental documentaries, visionary works of animation, or labyrinthine epics. Each is unforgettable, and a reminder of cinema’s potential to flout narrative convention, subvert visual traditions, and find new ways to express timeless themes."
Winter Movies 2021: Here’s What’s Coming Soon to Streaming and Theaters (Ben Kenigsberg, NY Times, 11-16-21) Get ready for originals like “House of Gucci” and “C’mon C’mon” or franchise updates like “The Matrix Resurrections” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”
11 Overlooked Classic Films for a Pandemic Winter Old Rex Reed recommendations, posted12-11-21)
Readers, Streamers, and Watchers (Marcy Davis’s great private Facebook group)

 

GOOD TV AND CABLE:

"Few shows get better over time and are worth recommending to new viewers after they're done—Schitt's Creek, Better Call Saul, and BoJack Horseman are rare examples." ~ Jordan Calhoun, The Atlantic, 6-22  

 

 

BEST TV SHOWS OF 2021
The 16 Best TV Shows of 2021 (Sophie Gilbert, Megan Garber, and Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 12-9-21)

“Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip With Sam and Graham" (Starz)

“Mare of Easttown" (HBO)

“Lupin" (Netflix)

“Dickinson" (Apple TV+)

“The Chair" (Netflix)

“Ted Lasso" (Apple TV+)

“Hacks" (HBO Max)

“Insecure" (HBO)

“Girls5eva" (Peacock)

“The White Lotus" (HBO

“The Underground Railroad" (Amazon Prime

“Reservation Dogs" (FX on Hulu)

“WandaVision" (Disney+)

“Only Murders in the Building" (Hulu)

“Squid Game" (Netflix)

“The Other Two" (HBO Max)


The Best TV Shows of 2021 (Doreen St. Félix, New Yorker, 12-8-21) In no particular order:

"The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime)

“South Side” (HBO Max)

“Reservation Dogs” (FX)

“The White Lotus” (HBO)

“We Are Lady Parts” (Peacock)

“Succession” (HBO)

“Philly D.A.” (PBS)

“Hacks” (HBO Max)

“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake   City” (Bravo) which is morphing into a true-crime hit

“Love Life” (HBO Max) which gets the award for most improved Bonus Awards for Consistent Excellence: “Evil” (CBS)

“Bob’s Burgers” (FOX)

“What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)

“Work in Progress” (Showtime).

 

A shout-out to the shows that didn’t “make” the list.

The troupe on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” is jelling in a way that is reminiscent of the Gilda Radner golden era.

Martin Short and Steve Martin have invented a vibe that I’ll call “uncle-core,” on the snappy Hulu murder mystery “Only Murders in the Building.”

The kinky historical fictions of “The Great,” also on Hulu, and of Apple TV+’s “Dickinson,” which is in its third and final season—and ending at precisely the right time—are consistently engaging.

HBO’s “100 Foot Wave” is a beautiful colossus; its director, Chris Smith, has merged an intimate look at the surfer Garrett McNamara with stunning footage of the sea in Nazaré, Portugal.

“Heels,” on Starz, a sentimental drama about professional wrestling, intriguingly mirrors the meta-theatricality of “Glow.”

“City of Ghosts” (Netflix),

“The Good Fight” (Paramount+), and

“Call My Agent!” (Netflix) kept me sane.

The noir humor of “Odd Taxi” (Crunchyroll), an anime, made me feel crazy—in a good way.’


The Best Feel-Good and Feel-Bad TV of 2021 (Naomi Fry, New Yorker, 12-22-21)

 

BEST HACKS – HOW TO LIVE LIFE
100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying (The Guardian Saturday Magazine, 1-1-22) Whether it’s being polite to rude strangers or setting time limits to your apps, tons of ways to make life better, with little effort.
How to Treat Skin Hyperpigmentation Naturally (Healthline) Apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, red onion, green tea extract, black tea water, licorice extract, milk, buttermilk, tomato paste, orchid extracts, red lentils.



TOP ONLINE CONTENT (a few links to "best" and "top" lists)
All the top (good, intelligent) radio talk shows and podcasts (McNees links)
Great podcasts to listen to while your hands and eyes are doing something else (McNees links)
Podcasts about health, health care, medicine and medical science (McNees links to best podcasts)
A+ blog and newsletter roll (Writers and Editors)
25 Newsletters and Tools to Discover Shareable Content (Kevan Lee @Buffer)
31 Bookish, Brainy, Beautiful Blogs for Readers (Tracy O'Neill, NY Public Library)
17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share (Kevan Lee @Buffer)
14 Newsletters You’ll Want in Your Inbox (Anum Hussain @Buffer)
Great search links (Writers and Editors)

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Narrative medicine and medical narrative

Updated by Pat McNees from an earlier version (12-2-11)

At a narrative medicine workshop at Columbia University, I learned that narrative training with stories of illness "enables practitioners to comprehend patients’ experiences and to understand what they themselves undergo as clinicians."

• In The Wounded Storyteller, Arthur Frank writes about restitution narratives (in which the narrator, expecting to get well again, is focused on the technology of cure), chaos narratives (in which the narrator sees illness lasting forever, with no respite), and quest narratives (in which illness is transformative, as the storyteller gains insights and becomes someone new).
Narrative Medicine: A Way Out (Corinne T. Feldman, Clinical Advisor, 2-25-22) In the practice of street medicine, which is the direct delivery of primary care to people experiencing homelessness living in parks, underpasses, and abandoned buildings, we have the privilege of witnessing those lives lived as society casually passes by, seemingly blinded to the suffering happening at their feet.
Safeguarding Our Communities: Get to Know Your Lifeguards (Corinne T. Feldman, Clinical Advisor, 2-25-22)
Narrative Medicine blog (an extension of the work, discourse, teaching and learning that takes place in the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia University -- "Practicing clinical care with the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by the stories of illness") I took in in 2011 and found in valuable.
Pulse—voices from the heart of medicine (excellent Web-only journal) and Pulse: Voices From the Heart of Medicine - The First Year, anthology edited by Paul Gross and Diane Guernsey
Narrative Medicine Rounds, lectures or readings presented by scholars, clinicians, or writers engaged in work at the interface between narrative and health care. Rounds are held on the first Wednesday of each month from 5 to 6:30 pm in the Columbia University Medical Center Faculty Club, followed by a reception. Rounds are free and open to the public. Podcasts MAY be available.
Stories in Medicine: Doctors-in-Training Record a Different Type of Patient History (Margot Adler, NPR, 10-28-03)
Family Medicine (official journal of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine; check out its feature “Lessons From Our Learners." Often publishes personal essays, 55-word stories and poems.
Poetry and Prose Rounds (Washington University, which provided some of the following links)
Fifty-five Word Stories: “Small Jewels” for Personal Reflection and Teaching by Colleen T. Fogarty (Family Medicine, June 2010), PDF
Narrative Medicine Heals Bodies and Souls (Lorrie Klosterman's interview with Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Utne Reader, Sept-Oct 2009)
What to do with stories: The sciences of narrative medicine (Rita Charon, Canadian Family Physician Vol. 53, No. 8, August 2007, pp.1265 - 1267)
Illness as More Than Metaphor (by David Rieff, Susan Sontag's son, NY Times Magazine, 12-4-05)
How to Do a Close Reading (Patricia Kain, Harvard University Writing Center)
Close Reading of a Narrative Passage (K. Wheeler, Carson-Newman College)
Explorations: An E-Journal of Narrative Practice. See for example: Re-membering Pets: Documenting the meaning of people’s relationships with these family members by narrative therapist Barbara Baumgartner
Literature, Arts, and Medicine database (NYU hosts)

And here are some books on the subject (there are many more). If you order something after clicking on one of these Amazon links, we get a small commission, which helps support maintaining this website:
The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition by Arthur Kleinman
Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness by Rita Charon
Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process by Lewis Mehl-Medrona author of Coyote Wisdom: Healing Power in Native American Stories
Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine, ed. Peter L. Rudnytsky and Rita Charon
Theft of the Spirit: A Journey to Spiritual Healing by Carl Hammerschlag
The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics by Arthur Frank.Both the collective portrait of a so-called "remission society" of those who suffer from some type of illness or disability and a cogent analysis of their stories within a larger framework. Frank is also the author of At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness

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20 places Americans can donate to help the people of Ukraine

Updated 3-30-23.   See also Good reporting on the Ukraine-Russia military situation.

 

"The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible." ~Abraham Joshua Heschel

 
President Obama's list, which seems more targeted to Ukraine region:

President Obama stated, “People of conscience around the world need to loudly and clearly condemn Russia’s actions and offer support for the Ukrainian people.”

He recommend helping the people of Ukraine by supporting one of several organizations, specific to the region
How You Can Help the People of Ukraine (President Barack Obama, 3-3-22):
---Fight for Right Helps make it safe for people with disabilities to stay in Ukraine.
---Hungarian Helsinki Committee provide free-of-charge legal assistance and representation to asylum seekers
---Fundacja Ocalenie (for African and Indian students at the border)
---Kyiv Independent, which has a GoFundMe site, to keep accurate news coming.
---Polish Migration Forum a free crisis hotline
---Cordélia Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (Hungarian site provides counseling and advanced psychiatric support for trauma survivors)
---Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights supports women, transgender, and nonbinary activists on the ground in and around Ukraine
---International Organization for Migration (IOM) scaling up its humanitarian operations in Ukraine and neighboring countries
---Association for Legal Intervention A Polish NGO providing pro bono legal work for migrants and refugees

 

 

My original compilation, before President Obama's appeared:
Doctors Without Borders is working in Ukraine 

Global Empowerment Mission (GEM, Miami-based) Doing strategic assistance at the border and on the ground in the tiny village of Medyka, Poland, it uses donations to buy refugees train and plane tickets to help them reach any family or friends they may have in Europe.

GoFundMe has launched a centralized fund that includes verified fundraisers.

International Rescue Committee is mobilizing resources to aid the people in Ukraine who were forced to flee their homes.

Kyiv Independent journalists have done tremendous work covering the war, offering constant updates as they fear for themselves, their families and their homes. The Independent has started a GoFundMe asking for support, but they’ve also promoted a separate GoFundMe — “Keep Ukraine’s media going” — for journalists around the country who have received less international attention “[Ukraine’s reporters] have shown extraordinary courage, but the reality on the ground is that most operations cannot continue from Ukraine alone,” one organizer wrote. “This fundraiser is aimed at helping media relocate, set-up back offices and continue their operations from neighboring countries.”

National Bank of Ukraine has created an account where people from around the world can donate to support the Ukraine military. Even with Western support, Ukraine’s army and its legions of volunteer fighters are severely outgunned by Russian forces.

Razom for Ukraine was founded in 2014 to build a stronger democracy in the country. Now the nonprofit is “focused on purchasing medical supplies for critical situations like blood loss and other tactical medicine items. They have a large procurement team of volunteers that tracks down and purchases supplies and a logistics team that then gets them to Ukraine.” Razom — which means “together” in Ukrainian — posted a list of the lifesaving supplies it has already purchased and is asking for more support.

Red Cross in Ukraine (0 800 332 656)

Save the Children helping children in Ukraine, Afghanistan and around the world who might be caught in the middle of armed conflict, forced to flee their homes and exposed to injury, hunger and sub-zero temperatures.

Sunflower of Peace Foundation A Boston-based nonprofit whose current mission is to support the people of Ukraine affected by the Russian military invasion, in collaboration with a global network of established organizations and institutions.

Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund (Global Giving) Donations help "affected communities in Ukraine, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children, who need access to food, medical services, and psychosocial support."

World Central Kitchen Chef Jose Andrés and his staff are feeding Ukrainian refugees streaming across the border into Poland, as well as those who remain in Ukraine. With their mobile kitchens and local chefs they've helped on the ground in Galveston, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (even before other relief agencies), in Beirut after the giant blast, and helping asylum seekers in Kentucky, Texas.

Voices of Children focuses on helping children recover from the psychological trauma of war. During the full-scale Russian invasion, they are providing non-stop assistance to affected children and families from all over the country, providing emergency psychological assistance, and assisting in the evacuation process. Donate here.

 

SOURCES:
How You Can Help the People of Ukraine (President Barack Obama, 3-3-22)
How to help Ukraine: 7 verified charities working to help Ukrainians amid invasion (Joyann Jeffrey, Today, 2-28-22)
Here’s how Americans can donate to help people in Ukraine
(John Woodrow Cox, Ian Shapira, and Omari Daniels, Washington Post, 2-27-22)
Five ways to help Ukraine right now in NYC (TimeOut, 2-28-22)

 

Good reporting on the Russia/Ukraine military situation.
20 Days in Mariupol: The Team That Documented City's Agonies (Mstyslav Chernov, 3-21-22) Vivid account of covering Russia's systematic destruction of most of the city's lifelines, starting with power and communications, by two journalists taking risks to get stunning images of the damage to the world, while Russian propaganda denied what their visual record made evident. Follow AP coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war here
The Grand Theory Driving Putin to War (Jane Burbank, NY Times, 3-22-22) Since the 1990s, plans to reunite Ukraine and other post-Soviet states into a transcontinental superpower have been brewing in Russia. A revitalized theory of Eurasian empire informs Mr. Putin’s every move. Post-imperial egos felt the loss of Russia’s status and significance keenly. Ukraine sovereignty is a threat to Russia's Eurasian empire.
The View from Warsaw ( Joy Neumeyer, The Baffler, 3-21-22) After decades of conflict, Poland stands in solidarity with Ukraine. In Poland, NATO membership is supported across political lines as a basic guarantee of sovereignty. Over two million Ukrainians have entered Poland, where lawmakers voted to grant them free travel on public transport, access to health care, and the possibility of three years of residency without a visa. Relations between the two countries have been fractious in centuries past, but the overwhelming support for the refugees is perhaps "a form of apology by a former ruler and fellow sufferer."
Best Reading On Ukraine and Russia (The Browser, 3-18-22)
Understanding Russian Offensive Campaign (Backgrounder, Institute for the Understanding of War, Assessment 3-15-22)
Ukraine’s Three-to-One Advantage (Elliot Ackerman, The Atlantic, 3-24-22) It’s not technology or tactics that has given Ukrainian fighters their greatest edge. A really good explanation about the military story.
Putin Doesn’t Realize How Much Warfare Has Changed (Antony Beevor, The Atlantic, 3-24-22) The Russian president’s obsession with World War II is hindering his invasion of Ukraine.
Why Z Is for Putin (The Economist, 3-8-22)
In the Ukraine Conflict, Fake Fact-Checks Are Being Used to Spread Disinformation (Craig Silverman and Jeff Kao, ProPublica, 3-8-22) Social media posts debunking purported Ukrainian disinformation are themselves fake. That doesn’t stop them from being featured on Russian state TV.
What Racism Taught an American Journalist About Covering the War ( Ruby Cramer, Politico, 3-19-22) Seeing persecution, a Black reporter in Ukraine refuses to keep his distance.  Terrell Jermaine Starr is redefining what it means to be a journalist who is as much a participant as an observer.

What a World War II Survival Story Reveals About Putin’s Lies (The Experiment Podcast, The Atlantic, 3-22-22) One Jewish American family’s debt to Ukraine.

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