7 Things I’m Consuming: A List For Summer 2015

Summer tends to be a time when I do A LOT of writing as well as a LOT of reading, listening, and viewing. I am a firm believer that as a writer, I am influenced (whether I like it or not) by the stuff I consume. If the old adage “you are what you eat” is indeed true, then (1) I need to change my eating habits and (2) the same applies to what we read, listen to, and watch. For summer 2015, here is my list of the things that are inspiring me.

  1. IF YOU FEEL TOO MUCH by Jamie Tworkowski – Jamie’s book details, in intensely poetic language, the events, situations and thoughts that inspired the movement called To Write Love On Her Arms. This is not a biography, or a book of poems, or a self-help book. Although these are elements of the text, the book is wholly its own beast. Largely, it is a beautifully written and honest portrayal of the circumstances surrounding a now national movement to address the stigma of anxiety/depression that plagues so many. As an artist (and one who is writing a musical related to this topic), I find Jamie’s prose to be undeniably honest, tender and powerful in ways few texts have achieved. Although the topic can seem a downer, the book is uplifting and ‘real’ – a great summer read.
  2. FUN HOME (Original Broadway Cast Recording) by Jeannine Tesori, Lisa Kron, and the cast of Fun Home The 2015 Tony winner AND record-shattering new musical is a must-listen! The cast performances are decidedly brilliant – the story is revolutionary – the lyrics are out of this world. For lovers of new musical theatre, FUN HOME represents a changing of the guard – a way in which the ‘small’ (whatever THAT means) musicals being created every day by the great folks on NMT are being recognized by the industry like never before. Plus, Sydney Lucas KILLS “Ring Of Keys.” There is nothing “small” about FUN HOME.
  3. TURN – on AMC – So I love history – especially American history. I love AMC – which brought us Breaking Bad and Mad Men. TURN tells the story of the first spy ring in American history that launched the impetus of the American Revolution and forwarded its cause. More now than ever, it seems important to remember that the original founders of our country were not just stuffy men in Whig wigs, but young, outspoken men (and women) who had a crazy idea that defied everything that had come before. I (and I think you will be too) am inspired by their rebellion. Not to mention the writing is remarkable.
  4. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon – Yes – the play is a huge Broadway hit with plans for a US national tour in 2016. Yes – it brought us the remarkable Alex Sharp. But, if you haven’t already, read Haddon’s original work. It is beautifully written – part touching coming-of-age and part mystery thriller. Reading it will reinforce why the National Theatre of London is an incredible force to be reckoned with.
  5. X by Ed Sheeran – I didn’t pay much attention to Ed Sheeran when his first album, +, was released. I liked “The A-Team” but other than that, I knew very little about him. His newest album, X, has received a prominent place in my summer playlist. As a lyricist, I am particularly drawn to him. I don’t seek for brilliant lyrics in contemporary pop music very often, but this album is smart, divisive, and boundary-pushing. Sheeran makes me excited for modern radio airplay.
  6. SUMMER MOVIE BLOCKBUSTERS – I refuse to be ashamed that I love a great summer blockbuster. I would love to blame this on my 9-year-old son or my STAR WARS-loving wife, but that would be unfair. There is simply something to be said about being thrilled or moved to nostalgia that has an undeniable impact. The summer if FULL of them – as always. Most recently, I saw JURASSIC WORLD – the long anticipated new installment of Spielberg’s JURASSIC PARK franchise. I could sit here and debate the merits of the new film – or compare it to Spielberg’s original as so many have done – OR even debate the casting of Chris Pratt (as so many also have done), but I won’t. Why? Because I still thrill at watching giant CGI dinosaurs roaming the planet with humans. Adulthood be damned – keep ’em coming, Mr. Spielberg – and I’ll keep buying tickets.
  7. GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee and THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER by Tim FederleThese books could not be more different. Yes – I get that. As I look forward to more inspiration, these are texts that excite me most. First, this July – the long-awaited sequel/prequel to the classic TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD arrives. This may be the most highly anticipated (and controversial) read of the summer. The opportunity to revisit Scout is one I can’t resist. Second, if you haven’t read Federle’s BETTER NATE THAN EVER and its sequel, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE, then do yourself a favor – they are genius and smile-inducing. These books are aimed at a middle-school audience. So Tim’s first official YA novel, THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER, has me more than intrigued. However, contrary to the rest of this list, we will have to wait until March for it.

What is inspiring YOU this summer?

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