Isabel Parham is a junior English Studies major, Sociology minor, and Honors student. 

I’ve recently found myself spending quite a bit of time at home, which means I’ve been able to catch up on the shows, podcasts, and books that I usually don’t have time for. This week, I wanted to share some of my current favorites.

What I’m Reading 

A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson 

This is my first Bill Bryson book, but it certainly won’t be my last. In A Walk in the Woods, Bryson recounts his adventures (and sometimes misfortunes) hiking the Appalachian Trail in his witty, sarcastic style. Bryson also peppers in the history of the trail, facts about the trail’s flora and fauna, and how the area is affected by climate change and deforestation. If you’re a conservationist, looking for an adventure (without having to leave home), or simply need a dose of humor, this book is an excellent choice. 

Owls and Other Fantasies, Mary Oliver 

Mary Oliver is easily my favorite poet of all time. She writes about nature, love, and life in a way that is accessible as it is beautiful. I have several of her books of poetry, but this book features my favorite poem, “Wild Geese.” Here are a few of my favorite lines: “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, / The world offers itself to your imagination, / calls to you like wild geese, harsh and exciting– / over and over announcing your place / in the family of things.” 

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng

I actually just finished this book, but I wanted to include it on this list because it’s such a fantastic story. I began reading this book thinking it would be a murder mystery, but it turns out to be so much more. Ng is a masterful writer, and spins the themes of family, love, and identity into a truly tragic and compelling tale. The subject matter can be heavy, but if you’re looking for a book you won’t be able to put down, this is it.

What I’m Listening To

Potterless (Spotify) 

As a self-proclaimed Harry Potter geek, this is one of my favorite podcasts of all time. It’s hosted by Mike Schubert, who’s reading the Harry Potter books for the first time. Each week, Schubert invites a Potter-obsessed guest on to the show to discuss, critique, and review chapters of the books. It’s so fun to listen to Schubert come to love the series, and it’s a great way to brush up on your Harry Potter trivia. Schubert has also now reviewed all of the Harry Potter books AND movies, so there are plenty of episodes to binge. 

Crime Junkie (Spotify)

Everyone is into true crime these days, and I’m no exception. While I listen to many (maybe too many) true crime podcasts, Crime Junkie remains one of my favorites. Host (and Hoosier!) Ashley Flowers discusses a new crime each week with co-host Britt Prawat. If you’re looking to learn about true crime cases in a thoughtful and respectful environment, then this podcast is for you.

What I’m Watching 

Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)

This TV adaptation of Celeste Ng’s novel, featuring powerhouses Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, is not something you want to miss. The story follows two mothers (Witherspoon and Washington) with starkly different families and ideals whose lives become entangled, and drama ensues. The series addresses familial struggles, socioeconomic inequality, racism, sexism, and so much more. If you enjoyed the Big Little Lies TV adaptation, I think you’ll love this series too.

If you’re looking for even more to watch and listen to, check out this post, where Honors student Grace Goze shares her stand-up and sketch comedy recommendations.


Are you an Honors student, staff, or faculty member who would like to contribute an Idea Exchange post? Send us a message on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or email Isabel Parham at