In episode 283, we interview novelist Ann Patchett, and here’s the blurb she offered to write for the novel because she loved it so much: “I would say that Transcendent Kingdom is a novel for our time (and it is) but it is so much more than that. It is a novel for all times. The splendor and heart and insight and brilliance contained in the pages holds up a light the rest of us can follow.”
Here’s the official description:
Gifty is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief—a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut Homegoing.
In other news: Make your plan to vote! In the United States, we’re heading into election time. Make your plan now.
Try This at Home
Ask yourself, “Do I already own this?”
Elizabeth uses a coaster-as-spoon-rest. As under-buyers, a spoon rest is exactly the kind of thing we would never buy.
Read here about the general principles and guidelines of the “Buy Nothing Project.”
Create a mnemonic for anything annoying that you can’t remember.
His new book is called Feel Better in Five (Amazon, Bookshop), and it outlines a five-minute daily plan that will help us all to feel healthier and happier—tailored in the way that’s right for us. We talk about:
- why we have to think about “Mind,” “Body,” and “Heart” if we want to make long-lasting improvements in our physical health
- what actually works for busy people with busy lives
- why for many people, it’s helpful to start small—with even just five minutes—in a few different areas
- many examples of health “snacks” of five minutes, such as the “five-step release” for a brain download and the “tea ritual” to connect better with a sweetheart
- the health risks of loneliness and the importance of connections
His Try-This-at-Home suggestion
For a daily gratitude exercise, answer three questions: “What have I done today to make somebody else happy? What has somebody else done today to make me happy? What have I learned today?”
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee is a Rebel, by the way. If you want to take the quiz, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, you can take the quiz here.
Gretchen’s Demerit: I haven’t been making an effort to track the birthdays of important people in my life.
Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s beloved cat Blackjack recently died, and she gives a gold star to the vet group who sent a lovely condolence card. It was especially comforting to Adam.