Everything Our Editors Loved in June
A beekeeping documentary, ‘Jurassic World: Dominion,’ and all things Obi Wan Kenobi
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Outside editors spent June checking books off their summer reading lists, from novels in the Star Wars universe to emotive poetry compilations. Here are the movies, books, music, and more that we enjoyed last month.
What We Read
Last month I reread Chinua Achebe’s classic novel Things Fall Apart. I hadn’t read it since college, decades ago, but remembered its theme of a man trying to hold on to what he had built in life as the world changed around him, which feels appropriate now. What struck me this time was how much of the work is dedicated to describing, in sparse, evocative prose, the culture of the Igbo people and the life that the hero, Okonkwo, creates for himself before the inevitable unraveling. When the fall comes, things go south fast before the tragic conclusion. I felt the same disgust as I did initially about those forcing their culture on others without understanding the ramifications of their actions, but also gained a new appreciation of how temporary our efforts are in light of the short arc of a life and the certainty of change, which doesn’t lessen their value. —Jonathan Beverly, senior running editor
The best thing I read in June was Courtney Bush’s poetry collection Every Book Is About the Same Thing, which is being published in a limited run by Newest York. It’s brilliant, funny, and accessible, even if you don’t typically read a lot of poetry. Reverent and attentive, delightfully unserious and dead serious at the same time, Bush collects insights from preschoolers, drunk friends, songs, books, movies, and more, then madly synthesizes all of it into something you can hold. —Abigail Barronian, senior editor
What We Listened To
At the end of May, I snagged a last-minute ticket to catch Baltimore hardcore band Turnstile. It was a particularly harrowing news week, and I welcomed the opportunity for catharsis in a crowd, all of us collectively banging our heads to some thumping tunes. June brought more demoralizing headlines, so I kept turning to Turnstile’s album Glow On, ratcheting up the volume on my headphones to get lost in the mosh pit of my mind. The opening song, “Mystery,” begins with a dreamlike sequence before bursting into explosive guitar, shepherding the listener into a riotous soundscape. Tracks throb with energy, kicking out short riffs that prompt a foot tap at minimum, but don’t be surprised if that’s a gateway to full-out dancing. Even if hardcore isn’t your thing, the album has a grooviness that cuts across genre—just take it from this pop-music lover. —Daniella Byck, associate editor
What We Watched
As a Star Wars fan who grew up with the prequels, I was psyched (and a bit nervous) to watch the new Obi Wan Kenobi TV series. The films had well-documented flaws, but Ewan McGregor’s Kenobi wasn’t one of them, and the trilogy’s world building sparked imaginations and spawned countless possibilities for other stories in the Star Wars universe. With every decision Disney makes to fill gaps in the story, some of that potential is either realized or taken away. Thankfully, the show was well worthwhile. Instant-classic Darth Vader moments more than made up for a few of the perplexing decisions in the series, and I loved the finale. To get another take on Ben Kenobi during his Tatooine desert seclusion, I concurrently read Kenobi, the 2013 novel by John Jackson Miller. The book isn’t canon anymore, and it diverges slightly from the show on the Jedi’s mindset. But its scale and timeline don’t intersect with the series—it’s more like a western set in one town—so I enjoyed leaning into what I liked most about each story. For more commentary, former Binge Mode podcast cohosts Jason Concepcion (X-Ray Vision) and Mallory Rubin (House of R) continue to produce fun and thoughtful podcasts that dive deep into all the episodes from a fan perspective. —Jon Ver Steegh, digital production manager
No, this isn’t some weird sci-fi film. The Pollinators is a 2019 documentary that follows migratory beekeepers as they bring their hives to fruit and nut farmers to pollinate crops. It delves into the mysterious decline of bee populations over the past several decades due to various mites, pesticides, and largely, as many beekeepers underline, other unknown reasons. As a beekeeper myself, I appreciated the gorgeous close-up shots of the workers taking flight and gathering pollen from flowers. And I definitely shed a tear or two when one of the men interviewed talked about losing half of his bee population in one season. Anyone who cares about our planet—or eating nuts, for that matter—should watch this film. —Abigail Wise, digital managing director
Before you shell out ten bucks to see Jurassic World: Dominion, you should know that—per Rotten Tomatoes—it has a critics’ score of 30 percent and an audience score of 77 percent. It’s not a good movie, but it is a good time. I watched it with my family over Father’s Day weekend (as did, uh, however many people equals over $60 million in ticket sales) and I only fell asleep once, during a scene toward the middle that was heavy on humans and low on dinosaurs. And that’s the thing about this movie—it very much delivers on the volume of velociraptors. Every scene goes like this: characters with names I can’t remember have to get somewhere—onto a plane, into a nefarious biolab, et cetera—but wait, there are dinosaurs chasing them. Sure, film buffs gripe that Jurassic World: Dominion is an “extinction-level event” and a “narrative cesspool” full of “overarching idiocy that permeates every scene.” Which, like, OK, but it’s chock-full of CGI and animatronic dinosaurs. It’s worth the ten bucks. —Isabella Rosario, assistant editor