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What's making us happy: A guide for your weekend reading and listening

This week, the Golden Globes announced its nominees — but it left many wondering: Why should we still care about this awards show? Time Magazine named Elon Musk its Person of the Year, andStation Eleventhe TV adaptation of the 2014 novel – began on HBO Max.

/ Simon and Schuster
Simon and Schuster

Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall, illustrated by Hugo Martínez

This is one of the most interesting graphic novels I've read in a long time. The author, Dr. Rebecca Hall, studies women-led slave revolts, and places herself in the book. It's about her experience trying to research slave history — at a time when names were slave one, slave two — and how, using documents of captain's logs and law transcripts, she tries to create a history that just was never documented.

It's profoundly moving and deeply devastating. Then, at the end, it's so hopeful and beautiful. I've read it twice already. I'll probably read it a third time. — Joelle Monique

Musician and artist Be Steadwell

Be Steadwell, a musician from Washington, D.C., put on a show there earlier this month called "Drummer Bois." It was queer caroling and it was so much fun. They had a cappella groups and burlesque and this whole evening was put together by this artist. I then went and looked up their music. They did some original songs at the show, in addition to carols, and I really loved it.

I've just been really enjoying Be Steadwell's music. And if anybody reading this knows Be Steadwell, I'd really like to be friends. — Daisy Rosario

Jackie Kashian's new comedy album Stay-Kashian

The comedian Jackie Kashian has a new album called Stay-Kashian. If you listen to podcasts, you might know her already from the The Dork Forest, where she interviews fellow nerds about nerd stuff. She's very smart, very funny, with a great Midwestern warm-but-sardonic vibe. I could listen to her talk for days.

She does pitch herself as a middle-aged white lady — though she's not using that as a cudgel, but a way to express where she comes from. She's aware that the world is changing, and she welcomes it with curiosity and enthusiasm while wondering why it's taken so damn long.

It's just so refreshing to hear a comedian at the top of their game, grappling with societal change and welcoming it in such a smart and specific and hugely funny way. — Glen Weldon

Guitarist Yasmin Williams

Recently, I was asked to join an NPR music panel where we talked about the best new artists and discoveries in music from the year 2021. My colleague Lars Gotrich said one of his favorite new artists of 2021 is a guitarist from Virginia named Yasmin Williams.

I was visiting my mom at the time, sitting in her living room on this YouTube chat with my buddies from work. When Lars played a chunk of Yasmin Williams' Tiny Desk Home concert, I burst into tears. This music was just so beautiful, so stunning and so marvelously, virtuously played. I was awed by its sheer quality. Williams put out a marvelous record this year that I've been swimming in the last few days called Urban Driftwood. — Stephen Thompson

NPR Kroc Fellow Mia Estrada adapted this Pop Culture Happy Hour segment into a digital page.

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Joelle Monique
Daisy Rosario
Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
Mia Estrada
Mia Estrada is a 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow. She will spend the year rotating through different parts of NPR, including the Culture Desk, National Desk and Weekend Edition.