I am lazy and have let the original form of these posts lapse (which has been somewhat related to writing the last few of them in asciidoc instead of markdown) and so I went back to the O.G.s to steal the markup (I’m still using a convoluted style workaround that I came up with when I knew less about how to do these things (less because I still know nothing)), and was reminded that the first of these “Wednesday Weekly Recommended Reading” posts was in May 2017. Wild to think I’ve been shouting into the void this long.
There’s probably a real post rattling around my brain somewhere but that won’t be this week. Suffice to say I’ve made it over the end-of-year rush at the ‘ol publishing job and can now return more attention to my own pursuits, even if I’m still fixing a few first-year-on-the-job errors… but in any case, some reading:
by Samantha Ladwig
I too think a lot about youth and accomplishments and buying a bookshop, so this was fun for me. I’m also turning 30 in a few months. No 30 under 30 lists for me.
on the Civil Life
Civil Life brews maybe my favorite beer ever, and a few of them. I love this brewery.
One of the development editors I work with (I’m a production editor) is also a fellow St. Louisian (“what high school?” turns out we went to the same one…some years apart), and we were chatting dark beers after sending our last mutual book for the year to the printer and he mentioned Patrick and the library and we got to talking and he sent me this, some history I did not know. Post-COVID, however, I cannot wait to make a trip back to this brewery (I mean, go back and see my friends…)
by Katherine Morgan
Many of these books had been out for a year, maybe even more. Now some of them were on the New York Times bestseller list for the first time. Where was that energy when Trayvon Martin died? When Eric Garner was placed in an illegal chokehold by people whose job it was to protect him? When Mike Brown’s uncovered body was left lying in the street after he was also killed by police? Why did it take another Black man’s death for a good portion of the country to begin to take to the streets for weeks at a time? Even though I’d like to believe that many of these people were acting with good intentions, my general sense was that most of these cases could be summed up as performative allyship.
…White customers, in particular white women, would “(literally) cry about the work they wanted to do on themselves but were completely uninterested in buying titles that were NOT trending,” she wrote in an email. When asked if she thought that most of the customers were being performative allies, she agreed. “I’d say that more than half of the purchases were completely performative, and we could feel the general disinterest—plus they would all post the same pic with the antiracist titles while tagging the store lol.” Keliher from Subtext Books called it a “chance to put their order confirmation on their Instagram story to show off to their friends.” Christian Vega, the Events Coordinator at Astoria Bookshop, went so far to call it a case of “look at this on my bookshelf, I’m a Good White™.”
This is important and I thought this was a good treatment of an issue I think about a lot. I ran “metrics” on the books I read this year and I’m certainly nowhere near parity (maybe I’ll share these later, but that’s also not the point). There’s both performative reading and then also lots of shaming around it, so many calls to “decolonize your bookshelf” which is good, but also I feel like a lot of the shaming ends up driving the performative book-buying (and maybe even not-reading). I don’t know; it all feels a little above my paygrade and I don’t really think I can speak to the whole thing in this context, and anyway that’s why I recommend this reading.
by Kate Soper
There’s a lot in here and I recommend you read it.
by Amy Collier
This made me giggle, coming off a weekend filled with both Jane Austin and single friends telling stories about COVID dating.
by Mikka Jacobsen
Pairs (sort of) with the above. Really this is just a good meditation on Vonnegut, whom I like but don’t love, whom I seem to bump into every few years.
by Leslie Brody
I remember loving this book (and the movie?), but my memory of the text itself is long-gone. Still, this is fun and interesting. Also, lol.
Harriet is a writer devoted to routine. She loves her tomato sandwiches, her egg creams, and her spy route and notebook both because they give her a lot of pleasure and because they ground her. Like a working artist, she doesn’t want to think about the mundane details. That’s what a parent—and later, a partner—is for: somebody who can deal with practical things so an artist doesn’t have to. When Harriet’s routines are disrupted, all hell breaks loose. A thousand more writers would call that realistic.
(Though I will say: I know of no working writer who has parents or a partner to take care of “practical things” so they don’t have to. Maybe it’s a stage-in-career thing for me and my friends, or maybe it’s economics. It’s maybe both. Probably more economics, though.)
In all fairness, the essay is deeply laudatory, and has a few less-intentional lols (e.g., ‘whose politics were to the left of liberal and had what used to be called “class consciousness.”’ – we still use “class consciousness,” don’t we?), but anyway, it’s fun and a really fun (and, ‘class conscious’) reading of the book, which I should probably go find at the library…I need a breather from all this heady shit (he says, rereading “A Study in Scarlet”).
(Also, this is taken from a book about the author’s life; didn’t know much about the author but next time I need a literary biography I will look this up, I think. Hopefully it comes as an audiobook at the library… the best way to consume literary biographies.)
In other news, I did finish Mansfield Park and The Logic of Sensation if anybody wants to talk about them… now reading Jane Alison’s Meander, Spiral, Explode, Murnane’s Inland (which I’m not sure I like? Unclear.), and always chipping away at The Street of Crocodiles, which maybe I’ll just try to actually finish this weekend.