Podcast 281: Start a Social-Issues Book Club, a Deep Dive into the Problem of Flaky Friends, a Hack for Great Quotations, and a Spotlight on Jason Reynolds.

Try This at Home

Start or join a social-issues book club.

The first choice for Elizabeth’s book club is White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. (Amazon, Bookshop)

Happiness Hack

A listener finds it useful to post her favorite aphorisms or quotations in places where she can see them, and she asks for more suggestions about ways to display quotations.

We mention our beloved advertiser Framebridge (though this isn’t a paid ad).

Spotlight on a Black Author

Jason Reynolds is one of the preeminent writers of children’s and young adult literature today. He’s written many bestselling novels, as well as poetry and a graphic novel.

His work has won the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalist, Kirkus Prize, NAACP Image Award, Newbery Honor book, Printz Honor Book, and an Edgar Award, as well as been named to various “best books of the year” lists. In January, he was named as the Library of Congress’s national ambassador for young people’s literature.

I’ve read two of his books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks (AmazonBookshop) and Long Way Down (Amazon, Bookshop). I plan to make my way through his work, and next up on my to-read list are Ghost (Amazon, Bookshop), which is the first in a series; As Brave as You (Amazon, Bookshop); and All American Boys (Amazon, Bookshop). Also, just this March, he published the very timely book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning with Ibram X. Kendi (Amazon, Bookshop).


Deep Dive

Flaky Friends

In episode 277, we talked about a question from a listener who was frustrated because she and a friend started a film group, and certain friends flaked out over and over. We asked listeners what they thought about the situation.

We got such a huge response to this question.

Some themes:

  • Some people think it’s more polite and friendly to say “yes.”
  • Some people love the idea, but when the time comes, they find it hard to follow through — their schedule is too hectic, they suffer from anxiety.
  • Many people pointed out that they wouldn’t flake out on one friend, but if it’s a group event, it seems acceptable not to attend.
  • Something is happening in their lives that makes it tough for them to follow through.

The key lesson from this discussion? Remember compassion. We don’t know what other people are going through.

Also, if you flake but you want to keep being invited, say so. And if you feel pressured when you keep getting invitations, and you’d rather not get them, explain, “This isn’t a good time, I’ll let you know when things change.” To the person issuing invitations, it’s not always clear what’s considerate: asking or not asking.

Gretchen’s Demerit: We haven’t trained Barnaby to come when we call for him. 

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Gold star to people who work in restaurants. It’s a lot of work, and uncomfortable, to follow all the steps to keep restaurants safe, but everyone appreciates it so much.   


  • Need a quick jolt of energy and cheer while spending time at home? Click here to download a free bingo sheet with 42 easy challenges to lift your spirits. Cross them off as you go—gold star for you! 
  • If you’re looking for some mood-boosting music, we made a Happier 911 list on Spotify. So much great, happy music! Search Spotify playlists for Happier 911. All the songs were suggested by listeners.


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