The Five: A book to read, a park to visit (before it disappears) and the link between inspirational sayings and fake news

"The Expectations" by Alexander Tilney
"The Expectations" by Alexander Tilney
Little, Brown

1. It’s the beginning of the school year, so how about a book that immerses you in the thoughts of a 14-year-old boy? “The Expectations” by Alexander Tilney is an intimate trip inside the head of an early teen who just started attending an elite prep school. Set in the mid-1990s, the story skillfully immerses the reader in the thoughts of Ben Weeks as he attempts to navigate social and financial anxieties during his crucial first year. There are thoughts and worries (lots of worries) and then, infrequently, another character's inner voice – maybe a parent speaking to a teacher, or a teacher to a peer – which makes for a powerfully contrasting point of view.

2. Please read "What does 'living fully' mean? Welcome to the age of pseudo-profound nonsense" in The Guardian. It uses pithy Instagram quote posts, like “Start visualizing what you want, then say no to anything that isn’t it,” to point out that no one really knows what that means! It also draws a surprising line between fake news and conspiracy theories to these seemingly harmless fluffy sayings. The author theorizes that the most significant difference between the spread of inspirational quotes and the spread of fake news is that quotes generally make users feel good, while fake news provokes anger or fear. “In either case, emotionality overrides rationality,” he writes. Thought-provoking.

3. Visit Nerstrand Big Woods. Once upon a time, before Europeans settlers arrived, Minnesota and Wisconsin were covered in red oak, white oak, sugar maple, basswood and elm -- the Big Woods. You can still see some of the old growth trees in Nerstrand State Park. But the trees are in danger. Rainfall isn't draining as it used to, and the Department of Natural Resources says "12 percent of the park is experiencing forest death due to lack of oxygen around flooded tree roots." Go see this natural beauty while you can.

4. Soul Music is a podcast from the BBC -- not about R&B, but about songs that changed people’s lives. If you need a place to start, check out the Waterloo Sun episode. You’ll not only get a critical view of music, you’ll get memorable personal stories.

BONUS: Kerri recommends the third episode of the 1619 Project. New York Times critic Wesley Morris says black music is central to the American sound – and he starts his theory by examining the black roots of yacht rock. Talk about unexpected.

5. Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian activist and singer. This song is one of her classics from the early ’80s. It will make you want to dance, even on a rainy day. Plus, she has one of the best nicknames of all times – the Elegant Stallion.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts , Spotify or RSS

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.