Like always, lots of recommended reading this week. Much of it, you’ve probably already seen, some of it, you may not have. I tweet about all these usually anyway, but just in case you were looking for a collection of them, you’ve come to the right place.

Editor’s note: I was going to try and organize these, but then I realized that they’re not super groupable, save for the comics (though one of them could go with Evelina’s article…), so I grouped the comics, and will maybe someday do a better job of organization.

The Tallest Man in Ramallah

by Michael Chabon

The memory tickled Sam, though he said that if he were to do it today, he would not use Israeli suppliers, as he also did for the store’s refrigeration systems. “Today I would go to NCR, in Texas. Because today I have a choice, given that intifada conditions have waned, and I understand what it means to be dependent on Israel. That’s a political decision. If you go with the business decision, by design of Israeli strategy, it will take you to their market, because they’ve created all these obstacles to going outside their market. And I actually think that’s part of the reason, for them, for continuing the occupation. Somebody’s benefiting from it, to the tune of five billion dollars a year.”

I strongly recommend this essay, which is going to be a part of Kingdom of Olives and Ash, which I’m excited to read/pick up. Israel, Palestine, the occupation, and related issues are touchy (to say the least) in the Jewish community, and I grew up in a pretty uniformly, unquestionably pro-Israel environment (through the cracks in this started showing themselves when I was in high school), and so I was totally unaware of a lot of these stories, of this kind of information. Plus, it was written by Chabon, who’s a fucking monster (I mean this as the highest praise).

For something lighter by him, though, which I’d still recommend even though it’s in no way “current,” which is more or less what this list tries to be, I would point you to his wonderful and adorable essay in GQ, My Son, the Prince of Fashion.

What the Conversation Around Alex Tizon’s Atlantic Essay Is Missing

by M. Evelina Galang

It has been difficult to see wide-sweeping judgment coming from people who have no context nor familiarity with Filipino culture, history, or economics. “My Family’s Slave” cannot be read in isolation. There is a larger issue borne of hundreds of years of colonialism and economic hardship.

So, I linked to the Atlantic article last week, and I hope you read it. It was interesting and good and important to read, but, as Evelina says, context is important. So here’s some context. Also it’s cool to see my former department head (she’s still the dept. head, I am just no longer at Miami) published in Slate. I never took classes with her, but worked pretty closely with her on the lit journal there and some events and odds and ends, and she’s a thoughtful, smart writer, and if you read the Atlantic article, you should read this one, too.


by Jessica Hopper

To paraphrase Nixon sidekick H.R. Haldeman, “History is wack.” There must be some discussion, at least for context, about the well-worn narrative of the boy rebel’s broken heart, as exemplified by the last 50-plus years of blues-based music, that there are songs about loving and losing women; that men writing songs about women is practically the definition of rock ’n’ roll. And as a woman, as a music critic, as someone who lives and dies for music, there is a rift within, a struggle of how much deference you can afford, and how much you are willing to ignore what happens in these songs simply because you like the music.

This essay is awesome, and holds up remarkably well 14 years later. I was just a little shitty kid when emo took off, and was still a year or two away from my rock n’ roll awakening (i.e., when I realized that my mom was right all along: girls dig guys who can play the guitar) when this was published, but I distinctly remember arguing about punk vs. emo with my friends, about Green Day selling out, etc. But, being a little boy who was only later explicitly exposed to problems of gender and feminism in pop culture (though I was very well implicitly exposed via my parents and the wonderful novels of Tamora Pierce), I hadn’t even begun to consider the music through this lens. This is a good lens. And you should read through it, mmk?

Every Color Of Cardigan Mister Rogers Wore From 1979–2001

by Owen Phillips

Some sweaters were worn once and then never again, like the neon blue cardigan Rogers wore in episode 1497. Others, like his harvest gold sweaters, were part of Rogers’ regular rotation and then disappeared. And then there were the unusual batch of black and olive green]( sweaters Rogers wore exclusively while filming the “Dress-Up” episodes in 1991. To this day, members of the Neighborhood Archive message board claim those are the only sweaters Rogers wore that were store bought. The rest were hand knit by his mother.

I love me a good cardigan. And also Mister Rogers.

Online top ranking: what does Amazon Charts mean for the book industry?

by David Barnett

One advantage Amazon has is that it subdivides literary categories almost to an atomic level, which has both pros and cons. On the one hand, it gives a leg up to authors working in a genre that might not have its own New York Times bestseller category, and who might never trouble the upper reaches of the general fiction sales charts.

So, I strongly dislike Amazon, but this is interesting, especially in conversation with the article about the NTY Bestseller list downsizing I recommended in the second edition of this list. It also leads one to a discussion of the purpose of critics and lists insofar as canon-building, but that’s probably a bit too deep for what I’m trying to do today. Oh, and a bonus: here’s another article about it from Publishers Weekly.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice for Living

by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Second, teachers who influenced or encouraged me in my growing-up years. At Cornell University, my professor of European literature, Vladimir Nabokov, changed the way I read and the way I write. Words could paint pictures, I learned from him. Choosing the right word, and the right word order, he illustrated, could make an enormous difference in conveying an image or an idea.

Of fucking course her Euro lit professor was fucking Nabokov. Of course. But really, this essay was super interesting and cool, particularly so far as its narrative concerning the hurdles she overcame both as a woman and a mother in a time when being either wasn’t exactly an easy thing to be while also pursuing the law. I’m always fascinated by the structures and people who enable remarkable individuals like RBG to succeed and do what they do, and she is generous with details in this regard. Also she’s super cool.

Google Wants to Be Everywhere With Everyone

by David Streitfeld

Google’s ambition, as Mr. Pichai and the speakers that followed him made clear, is to knit all those devices and services together. Google users — which means just about everyone, in Google’s vision — will interact with the company all day long and do it so seamlessly that they barely notice it. … The future that the company sketched out was one in which people communicate with their Google devices by talking to them rather than typing. And the machines will anticipate trouble without your asking. They will warn you, for instance, that you need to leave for your child’s soccer game 15 minutes early because there is heavy traffic.

Kinda creepy fucking shit. I still try to keep up with tech news, but I am getting pretty lazy about it. I’m sure Google is already aware of this.


The exclamation point is really too cheery for the following, but,

The Slavemaster’s Son

by Sukjong Hong

Another great response to the Atlantic article, mentioned above.

Nothing Feels Real When You’re Getting an Abortion

by Vreni

This was intense, and I think important and good to read. It’s also a part of a forthcoming, pending-crowd-funding collection, Comics for Choice: An Anthology for Abortion Rights, which you can donate to here.