On this rainy December Sunday I thought I’d share some recent articles of interest, knowing that it’s very easy to miss worthwhile content in the endless reaches of cyberspace.
“Reading is important to me and I will prove it.”
One of the best newsletters on Substack (or anywhere, for that matter) is Anne Helen Petersen’s Culture Study. This morning she posted an essay I think we can all relate to, “Reading is important to me and I will prove it.”
In a series of vignettes, Petersen describes her reading habits and attitudes over the years.
“In 2018 I decided that reading more books would be one way I would recover from burnout: I would do what I actually wanted to do, instead of doing what my phone encouraged me to do (specifically: hang out with my phone). Other people were making spreadsheets of the books they’d read and tallying them and setting goals; I would too. 50 books in 2019. I did it, but the feat itself weighed on my mind constantly: am I reading fast enough to keep on pace? Should I pick a shorter book next, or avoid this longer one? It felt less like reading and more like optimizing my reading. I remember very little. . .
“Back in New York to give a talk with a free afternoon to walk through the Village in gorgeous Fall weather: the sort of moment that almost, almost makes you want to move back. I walked by McNally Jackson, started to walk in because I always walk into a book store, and scolded myself: you can’t even read the books you have, you’re not allowed to get any more.
“In that moment, it occurred to me, as if a revelation, that if I made the decision to read the books, if I did the damn thing, then I could do the other thing I wanted to do, which was to buy more books, have more books, have read more books. And so I walked in, bought Hua Hsu’s Stay True, and put myself to the test.”
Read the rest here.
We Need Diverse Books launches #BooksSaveLives initiative to fund library purchases of banned books
“We Need Diverse Books has joined the fight against censorship. The organization, which emerged in 2014 to advocate for diversity and inclusion in the publishing industry, announced a December 1 launch for its three-pronged #BooksSaveLives initiative. Books Save Lives will give as much as $10,000 in grants to schools and libraries in underserved communities so they can purchase challenged and banned books for their collections.”
Elizabeth Rosner shared this piece again this morning. Survivor Cafe: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory is a must-read.
The Los Angeles Times critics’ best books of the year
“Ask four critics to name their favorite books of any year and you’ll get an array of singular narratives. But if any theme emerged among our top 20 books of 2022, it was the individual struggle to shape the future in a range of hostile words: the harsh dystopias crafted by Celeste Ng and Sequoia Nagamatsu; the vicious liars who questioned Sandy Hook; the British colonizers Samuel Adams outwitted and the American colonizers bested by the great Native athlete Jim Thorpe. These are stories told brilliantly — substance meeting its match in style — in which reality might be inescapable, but hope is unkillable.”
Mary Ann Gwinn
The Washington Post‘s 50 Notable Works of Fiction
The New York Times‘ 10 Best Books of 2022