Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

The Five: An intense BBC drama, a podcast with a Minnesota twist and lush new music

MPR News director of programming Steph Curtis stopped by with an early fall edition of “The Five,” where she recommends things to read, listen to and experience right now.

1) “A Judge Asked Harvard to Find Out Why So Many Black People Were In Prison. They Could Only Find 1 Answer: Systemic Racism,” via The root. You can read the study it is based on, too.

If you need a quick explanation of how pervasive racism is in the justice system, read this:

Police are more likely to search or investigate Black residents. Law enforcement agents charge Black suspects with infractions that carry worse penalties. Prosecutors are less likely to offer Black suspects plea bargains or pretrial intervention. Judges sentence Black defendants to longer terms in prison.

2) Watch “Gold Digger,” a BBC family drama-romance-thriller about a recently divorced woman who takes up with a younger man — much to the horror of her children and ex-husband. Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes play the much-scrutinized couple. Your perspective on the relationship changes with each episode. It’s tense and addictive.

3) “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a new novel from V.E. Schwab, one of the most talented and inventive fantasy and speculative fiction writers out there. Her new book is about a French woman who makes a wish that’s fulfilled by a dark spirit and, hereafter, is cursed with eternal life.

What I love about her work is its depth. There’s a lot of fun fantasy out there that owes roots to fairy tales from Disney. Schwab's roots are in the dark folk tales that Disney sanitized.

4) Listen to “The Syndicate,” a new podcast about the drug trade that combines skydiving, some self-described "knuckleheads" from Minnesota, the DEA, buckets of cash, and loads of betrayal.

5) I love the new track from Jon Munson and Dylan Hicks, "Only Smoke." I am a huge fan of Harry Nilsson — and the clever, melancholy lyrics in “Only Smoke” remind me of him. Don’t miss the moments when the back-up singers join in! It’s gorgeous.

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