#15 ...letter of rec

found a new home for the newsletter + now condensed & called letter of rec :-)

hi friends!

it’s been a long while (i say that every time, but it has been the longest while) and i apologize, but only a little bit. truthfully, it’s been harder to find the time, motivation, and energy to compile a whole-ass newsletter. i’ve still been consuming many internet things but it’s been quite nice nourishing other parts of my life. and summer hiatus is offically over!

if you didn’t already noticed, the newsletter looks (and sounds) a bit different. i am now using substack, which is a great new platform that makes it easier to pay newsletter-makers. i’m still doing this for free (for now haha), out of the desire to share great journalism and multimedia storytelling, so you will still get emails from me straight to your inbox. but my newsletters now have an official home! :-)

and while i still had motivation, i very quickly whipped up a rebrand. any name tbh, is better than “things i send/recommend to my friends, but all together: a newsletter”. but if i had waited for the perfect name to come or the newsletter to be perfect, i never would have even sent anything out in the first place. so…here’s to just doing the damn thing.

welcome to “letter of rec”, where i send out (love) letters filled with recommendations. (also i work in the world of college admissions, so there is double/extra meaning, lol)

thank you all for sticking around, being curious, and clicking on things ❤️. as always, i love and welcome discourse about any of the pieces and feedback about the newsletter. forward it to over to any nerdy friends you think would enjoy as well!

this time around, i am arbitrarily deciding to recommend in sevens. okay, enjoy!


  1. movies in theaters: sorry to bother you, blindspotting, crazy rich asians, searching

  2. netflix’s to all the boys i’ve loved before + twitter.com/bestofcentineo ;-)

  3. vox borders: hong kong

    hong kong milk tea = me

  4. CNN's: Finding Kamau Bell with ancestryDNA (3 episodes)

  5. this made my heart melt 😫😫 - How Surviving Cancer Changed Us | {THE AND} Raul & Rashel

  6. terrace house, always :-)

  7. insecure season 3 is back!!!! (s3e4 is The Best)


  1. Curiosity and What Equality Really Means (Atul Gawande for the New Yorker)

    “When people speak, they aren’t just expressing their ideas; they are, even more, expressing their emotions. And it’s the emotions that they really want heard. So I stopped listening to the man’s words and tried to listen for the emotions.”

  2. the Cut’s ‘Ask Polly’: ‘How Do I Start Over Now That I Know How Damaged I Am?’

    “You can enter the room as a broken person, sit with your brokenness without hiding it, and let it exist out in the open. You don’t have to share your own secrets straight out of the gate. You can ask people about the things that broke them, because you understand that being broken is interesting and includes a good story, or maybe 100 good stories. You listen to their stories not because you expect that then they’ll listen to yours, but because you’re making it your goal to take in reality, to connect, to get closer to the real world and the real people who live in it.”

  3. Directions (Robert Sullivan for Places Journal, an essential and trusted resource on the future of architecture, landscape, and urbanism)

    on gentrifying Brooklyn:

    “Giving and getting directions is an unsung ritual of civic life, a measure of local knowledge and belonging. But what happens when your neighborhood, your city, seem to have lost their way?”

    “Today, at the very heart of the city’s spectacular success, of its “revival,” is not its redevelopment as a place to live but rather its reconceptualization as a brand to market.”

  4. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Debt to Me (M.H. Miller for the Baffler)

    a sad account of an American family’s struggle for student loan redemption

    also read because Jia said so and is absolutely right.

  5. Private Dreams and Public Ideals in San Francisco (Nathan Heller for the New Yorker)

  6. I Gave My Breakup A New Name (ninamontagne.com)

    “It’s been a lot of moving forwards and then backwards and then being stuck for a minute or two and doing it all over again. It’s been purposely hiding from anything that reminds me of them and purposely shining the light bright on anything that reminds me of them in hopes that once day it won’t feel so… sad.

    The thing about unraveling is that it happens in circles. You spin, at first uncontrollably but then you learn to adjust the speed, however, the spinning will always lead you to you.

    This breakup has been my wake-up call to take control of my life. It has been my opportunity to circle my way back to myself.”

  7. How Plutocrats Hijack Campus Idealism (Anand Giridharadas buzzfeednews)

    “These elites believe and promote the idea that social change should be pursued principally through the free market and voluntary action, not public life and the law and the reform of the systems that people share in common; that it should be supervised by the winners of capitalism and their allies, and not be antagonistic to their needs; and that the biggest beneficiaries of the status quo should play a leading role in the status quo’s reform.”

+bonus: San Francisco's Besharam Serves Up Desi Nostalgia for Immigrant Kids because @ikya wrote for munchies/vice !!!!


  1. nancy - five simple steps

    Traveling to Taiwan with her mom, Kathy imagines the life she might have lived had her family stayed.

  2. the wilderness - brought to us by the crooked media folks!!

    Can the Democrats save America? This is the story of a party’s journey through the wilderness after the most crushing defeat in history. In a documentary that spans two centuries of American politics, Pod Save America's Jon Favreau talks to more than 100 strategists, historians, activists, and voters about how the party of Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Obama arrived at this moment, and how it can lead the country out. 

  3. scene on radio - MEN (series)

    Launching our Season 3 series, co-hosts John Biewen and Celeste Headlee look at the problems of male supremacy. And we visit Deep Time to explore the latest scholarship on how, when, and why men invented patriarchy.

  4. call your girlfriend - friendship dilemmas

    Amina and Ann are writing a book! It's a memoir-manifesto called Big Friendship, and, as we kick off the writing process we're answering some of your friendship questions. Friendships where privilege gets in the way. Friendships where one of you has moved on and doesn't know how to talk about it. Friendships that are post-breakup. Friendships where fat shaming comes into play.

  5. multiamory podcast: #181 - Settler Sexuality (with Dr. Kim Tallbear)

    Professor Kim Tallbear. Dr. Tallbear is the author of The Critical Polyamorist blog, as well as several books, articles, and talks on settler sexuality, Indigenous peoples, technology, and relationships. We dig into the details of what settler sexuality is, how it influences our relationships, and the many different ways in which we create extended support networks of kin. You can find more of Kim's work at CriticalPolyamorist.com and TipiConfessions.com.

  6. on being with krista tippett- alain de botton the True Hard Work of Love and Relationships

    What if the first question we asked on a date were, "How are you crazy? I'm crazy like this"? Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton's essay "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" was one of the most-read articles in The New York Times in recent years. As people and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. Nowhere do we realistically teach ourselves and our children how love deepens and stumbles, survives and evolves over time, and how that process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about our partner. The real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after.

  7. 99% invisible - 321- Double Standards - produced by 99pi’s newest asian american female producer, vivian le!! it’s about double eye-lid surgery

small things that have been giving me joy:

anjile’s science corner - making science things accessible to all of us (coming soon!)

in the mean time, she told me to remind you to all to please get tested because S.T.D. diagnoses reach record 2.3 million new cases in U.S.! please @ her on twitter @anjilean if you need resources or have science-related questions!! staye tuned for science things, which i can not offer.

thanks for getting all the way through this issue. <3

new to the newsletter? if you’re a curious person and enjoy learning, you’ll enjoy these! subscribe here at michelleli.substack.com. check out the archive (from mailchimp) here. you can find me on twitter at @michelle_ebooks.