Hi everyone! Lauren here with a new take on our weekly 5×5. Once per month, one of us on Team SWC is going to drop into the 5×5 with five picks of things we’ve been reading, listening to, watching, or otherwise inspired by. I’m going first with some of my recent diversions below. If any of these pique your interest, or if they inspire recommendations of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know!
—Lauren Tresp, publisher + editor
monk: Light and Shadow on the Philosopher’s Path
book / by Yoshihiro Imai
I bought monk—a part-cook book, part-coffee table book centered on the chef and story of Kyoto restaurant monk—to satiate my wanderlust, but the impeccable images only make my wanderlust worse. Chef Yoshihiro Imai’s personal essays on the art, science, and performance of Japanese dining offer an intimate, insider’s take on the unrivaled poetry of Japanese cuisine.
book / by Susanna Clarke
In Piranesi, the eponymous central character lives alone in a sprawling mansion, fishing the ocean tides that occupy the palace’s lower levels and tracking the weather patterns within its upper levels between visits with a mysterious “Other.” I can’t say much more than that about the plot, but Piranesi’s tale is an instruction in living simply and having respect and reverence for the natural world—apt themes for pandemic times.
The Kid Detective
film / Dir. Evan Morgan
With an absurd premise—a washed-up thirty-something former kid detective trying to solve a murder case between hangovers—The Kid Detective is a quirky and uniquely genre-bending dark-comedy noir drama. Adam Brody plays the titular character with typical Brody charm layered with a relatable blend of naïve ambition, self-loathing, imposter syndrome, loss of youth, and genuine empathy. If you need something light and surprising that never verges on silly, this fits the bill.
Ezra Klein Show
podcast / New York Times
I’m a latecomer to The Ezra Klein Show, having only started listening after the Vox founder’s move to NYT, but this podcast’s far-ranging discussions of rich, challenging topics have compelled me to listen and re-listen with care. While so many public discussions devolve into hot takes and black-and-white thinking, The Ezra Klein Show embraces nuance, long-form dialogue, and (civil) disagreement, spanning topics from politics to the implications of AI, from animal rights to science fiction. Episodes to catch: “What it Means to be Kind in a Cruel World” with George Saunders (February 19, 2021), and “Employers Are Begging for Workers. Maybe That’s a Good Thing” with Jamila Michener (pictured) (June 8, 2021).
TV / FX
I’m a latecomer to The Americans, too! But the show’s themes are timeless. Its six seasons center on two KGB spies posing as Americans near the end of the Cold War, their “real” American-born children, and their FBI-agent neighbor. Amid spycraft and high drama, the show tackles issues around identity, family, the tolls of deception and brutality, and the age-old ethical dilemma between one’s personal values and one’s duty to a greater good.