I Don't Hate It | Summer Storms

Hey there. It's full-on summer here in Charlottesville (and maybe where you are, too). We've had mid-nineties and summer storms for the past week or so. The weather did its job to wreak havoc on the annual VQR Writers' Conference, which took place last week. Some faculty and participants suffered travel delays—I swear summer is worse than winter when it comes to air travel—and we made some game-time decisions regarding venues due to Mother Nature and her uncanny sense of humor, but at least one of those resulted in an unanticipated bar on site.

I'll be on vacation a week from now (barring travel and/or weather disasters), relaxing pool- or beachside with a book. I started packing days ago; of course there are more books than swimsuits. So far I'm planning to take: Kristen Arnett's Mostly Dead Things; Jami Attenberg's All This Could Be Yours; Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Fleishman Is in Trouble; Halle Butler's The New Me; Juliet Escoria's Juliet the Maniac; Claire Lombardo's The Most Fun We Ever Had; Rachel Monroe's Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession; and Yours, for Probably Always: Martha Gellhorn's Letters of Love and War, 1930-1945, by Janet Somerville. I like to have options.

1. I got to hear Amy Hempel read from her new story collection, Sing to It, a week ago. She is a master of the short form. If you didn't know that she has a new book out—new stories—now you do. Go get it, and see her on tour if she comes anywhere near you.

2. I also got to hear Mitchell S. Jackson read from his memoir, Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, last week. Talk about a book you do not want to miss. Wow. Mitch's profile of Colson Whitehead is the cover story of this week's TIME Magazine. Read about two paragraphs of that and you'll know you want more of Mitch's prose in your life.

3. This last recommendation is an odd one, I will admit, but just hear me out: Black Pearl Teeth Whitening Powder is the best thing I've found to whiten teeth at home. It's so much easier than Crest Whitestrips, those gel-covered pieces of tape that move around in your mouth and taste terrible and leave your teeth feeling sensitive. This is a powder that you brush with before you brush with toothpaste. It's painless. And the results are almost instant. Plus, it's vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and cruelty-free. (I'm trying to only use cruelty-free skincare, makeup, etc. It's a lot harder than you might think.) Again, I know it's an unusual rec, but if you drink a lot of coffee or red wine, or if you had your teeth professionally whitened twenty years ago but lost the trays and don't want to pay for new ones, or if you just can't imagine swallowing any more of that disgusting gel (all of those are me), this is the product for you. You're welcome.

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