Issue #66: A Packed, Obsessively Curated Gift Guide
And the truth about affiliate links.
Morning Person is a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations and ideas—let’s get to it!
📚 We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman: Ashley’s life is messy and hard, but deeply human. At the center is her lifelong friend Edi, who is dying of cancer in a hospice center close to Ashley’s home. It’s the perfect setup for ruminating on life and death as Ashley is so full of the former: having sex with a rotation of partners, raising her daughter Bella with her ex-husband, Honey, and painting Edi’s nails. As a result, there are plenty of heartfelt and philosophical moments in the book, which somehow manages to maintain its edge and humor. I loved this line and reminder, “The hospice fridge is filled with cream: ice cream, sour cream, heavy cream, cans and cans of whipped cream. There is definitely a ‘now or never’ feeling about food around here and it makes you wonder what you think you might be waiting for in your own life. I mean, crusty gooey mac and cheese? Thickly frosted eclairs?[…] Eat your kale and blueberries and whatever else, but go ahead and have some of the good stuff now too.”
🎥 ‘Stutz’ on Netflix: In his documentary, Jonah Hill is so enthusiastic about his psychiatrist Phil Stutz, and the “tools” Stutz has taught him, that he wants to share them with a wider audience. But there’s something off about it, which is most apparent when Hill repeatedly deflects his therapist’s attempts to get him to be more vulnerable. About fifteen minutes in, we learn the actual reason for Hill’s reticence and the movie takes a different, deeper turn. Stutz’s tools, which mark the documentary like chapters and are the subject of his bestselling book, are not particularly revolutionary. They’re actionable skills and interventions grounded in popular counseling theories, and some are reductive, but they’ve sparked interesting reflections and conversations among my friend group (particularly the counselors I’m in school with), which make it worth the watch.
🍝 Cauliflower Bake from Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin: This is not a new cookbook, but when I needed a creative idea for repurposing an enormous amount of leftover Friendsgiving turkey, it was the first place I looked. I ended up borrowing Chaplin’s idea for a riff on Shepherd’s Pie with a cauliflower topping. She provides several ideas for filling in the book (one of which I’ve linked here!), but I went rogue and sautéed an onion in tomato paste and anchovies (similar to this famous Alison Roman recipe), then added in kale, mushrooms, and finally the turkey. It was honestly among the more delicious things I’ve made all year.
Liked, but didn’t love… ‘She Said.’ It’s about the New York Times’ article about Harvey Weinstein that sparked the #MeToo movement, but if you’ve seen ‘Bombshell,’ “The Dropout,” or ‘Spotlight,’ you can probably skip it. In case you missed it… One of my very favorite shows “The Sex Lives of College Girls” is back on HBO Max with Season 2!
P.S., This issue is packed. You may need to read it in browser or hit “Expand” to see the whole thing!
I’m sure you’ve noticed, after years of clicking into “10 Gifts for Your BFF Who Loves to Hike,” that gift guides tend to be repetitive and boring. Most link to Amazon, or Free People, REI, or Net-a-Porter. If there’s a small brand thrown in there, it’s often with a 15% off promo code you can add at checkout. There’s a reason for this: affiliate links.
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