Reading List, ‘Oh, Wow’ Edition.
"In summer, the song sings itself" [William Carlos Williams]
“There is no final, satisfying way to balance our need to be known with our need to be alone. The balance is always uncertain and provisional; it’s always a matter of dissatisfaction, give-and-take, and sacrifice.” [Joshua Rothman, the New Yorker]
"There’s always another level of truth sitting around and waiting for you to move to another country.” Laura Jane Faulds, Strawberry Fields Whatever.
A whole supplement on Lana Del Rey in the New Inquiry. This part especially, by Sarah Nicole Prickett: “And if all she wants is dope and diamonds, so what? What if the most radical - fuck it, feminist - thing you can do is believe everything a girl says about her life, whether or not you like it?”
“Even in nonfiction I was still constructing characters - myself included. I began to see how I might owe myself the same things I owed my fictive characters: complexity, interior conflict, strengths and flaws caught in tense tandem.” Great advice on writing (and life) from Leslie Jamison in The New York Times.
"I’m determined to feel a kind of purchase, to defy the instinct that I’ve developed in the last couple of years to always be ready to go.” Jean Hannah Edelstein on a new life in Brooklyn.
"I have blocked so much of, say, ages 13-25 out. I try to be as polite as I can. I wish I could remember. It confuses me that they all remember me, and so distinctly. They tell me stories about things I said or did. I was often sassy, I have noticed.” Roxane Gay.
I recently had to wipe my laptop and everything on it. I’m ok with this. Kate Stull explains the magic of moving on electronically.
"Let’s get one thing straight: I do not talk on the phone,” says Nicole Cliffe on The Toast. “You don’t have to! You never have to talk on the phone if you don’t want to.” My hero.
“One regrets the loss even of one’s worst habits. Perhaps one regrets them the most. They are such an essential part of one’s personality.” Oscar Wilde, via Gretchen Rubin.
Penelope Trunk, being clever on why we are all terrible multitaskers and really need to just focus on what we most want to achieve.
What happened when a couple gave their kid the mother’s last name [Molly Caro May, The Hairpin] … This is interesting. I am happy to have both my parents’ surnames, which was pretty cool of them in 1980. I remember, as a kid, railing against people who ignored my mum’s name when addressing me. They did that a lot.
How the Babysitters Club does money - a Billfold series by Nicole Dieker.
"My verbal changeability is not a sign of a lack of personality. Rather, it’s a function of what it means to be many things at once, but never just one - that one will always speak as befits an insistent now, because there is no pure centre from which to do so." [Navneet Alang, Hazlitt]
Reading List, Mercury Retrograde edition.
“I understand now something about the world that I didn’t before. And that’s why I wrote it.” [Ta-Nehisi Coates / Longform Podcast]
Like every time my pelvis touches a sink brim. [Fiona Duncan, Adult Magazine]
… And this, by Larissa Pham. Adult Magazine continues to be amazing.
A surprisingly intriguing essay on YouTube beauty vloggers. [Alice Bolin, The Hairpin]
"If you are ever going to wear a crop top, the time is now.” Lauren Laverne is keeping Eva Wiseman’s Observer column warm and it’s very, very good.
“The amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.” Nora Ephron on maintenance in Oprah Magazine (via @hadleyfreeman)
On the laws of probability and why impossible things happen all the time. [David Hand, Aeon Magazine]
The most wonderful story by Amanda Hess about her father, who got her out of the Grand Canyon alive - twice. [Slate]
"I say all the time that living in New York City requires you to find some kind of drug. It can be yoga, or it can be meditation, or it can be drugs”. Sarah Nicole Prickett interviews Emily Gould for Vice.
“I don’t feel like I’ve worked in four years.” Rosie Spinks on GOOD: Have Plug, Will Travel.
Very important: Captain Janeway sass x 46 on Buzzfeed. [Cate Sevilla]
A visit to the world’s largest ball of twine [Claire Suddath, The Awl]
Reading List, Hottest-State edition
"At which point Yinka Shonibare [RA, MBE] mentioned, dead casually, that he only works three days a week ‘because I need at least one day a week to just stare into space and achieve absolutely nothing’. At this point, everyone went a bit quiet.” [x]
[Arundhati Roy, by Pankaj Rakesh]
A wonderful essay about going to the lakes during the hottest summer heat in Louisiana, by Sam Anderson in the Oxford American (via @rachaelmaddux)
Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s wonderful story about Britney, on Medium. Medium has been getting really good lately.
Weird corporate Twitter. [Kate Losse, the New Inquiry]
28 things that definitely aren’t porn that have been described as “porn for women”. Amanda Hess in Slate.
“Hi, sorry, this is a women-only balcony. Women’s balcony, sorry.” Actual LOL: Western art history: 500 years of women ignoring men [Mallory Ortberg, The Toast]
"Becoming a person who asks for what she wants has not come naturally. Like many people, I always feel like when I ask for things, I’m fighting against that part of me that wants to be rewarded for not asking. I feel like someone will notice my supreme sacrifice and quiet patience – above all, what a good person I am for not being demanding – and all my wishes will come true because I didn’t ask and was good and quiet.” Amy Azzarito on DesignSponge on asking for what you want and, by extension, social conditioning.
Lean-In advice for female hurricanes [Beth Novey, NPR]
”Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds.” By self-proclaimed nerd and Jeopardy champion, Arthur Chu, on the Daily Beast.
Related: “The notion that all women can get effortlessly laid, if only they open their legs … It’s not hard to find female tales of not being able to get laid, but for some reason, these stories rarely seem to make it into the cultural conversation.” [Lux Alptraum, in Nerve]
This profile of Tavi Gevinson is so dreamy. [Emily Witt, The New York Times]
"What is your idea of perfect happiness?" "Being alone, but knowing I’ll soon see someone I love.” <3 [Jessica Stanley on the Benah blog]
"But he also said that it means I don’t want anyone to infringe on my ability to do whatever I want and I want other people to have the same ability, which means by extension I care about anything that affects that. Which I’d never really thought of. I just always thought of myself as selfish.” Katie West!
Reading List, London-Is-Dreaming Edition
"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
Chandelier, a music video by Sia.
The only time I’ve ever been to Connecticut. Mallory Ortberg of The Toast writes a personal essay.
Navneet Alang in Hazlitt on Twitter and oral history.
Related: ICYMI and how the internet messes with our sense of time, by Elizabeth Minkel in the New Republic (via @annfriedman) … Just because something has been discussed on Twitter for two days doesn’t make it “old” - because most people aren’t on Twitter.
Amy Nicholson in LA Weekly, on how YouTube and gossip sites revolutionised celebrity reporting.
Hunter S Thompson’s daily routine. … This is nuts, but if you took out all the drugs and just looked at the timings (sleep, food, work) it’s actually not a bad solution for night owls who want to have a social life. I mean, he sees his friends, gets his rest, AND gets a lot done.
The business case for the three-day weekend. Like Prince says, it’s the dream we all dream. [Lisa Evans, FastCompany]
"Your companion didn’t get an ice cream sandwich. He thought maybe you’d give him a bite or two. Bullshit.” Realtalk from Meaghan O’Connell in The Billfold.
An improved version of The Hobbit where the dwarfs never show up and Bilbo stays home making cozy meals and goes to bed early.
"I have been gay for ten years now, and things are going really well. Thanks for asking. I have been Asian for my entire life, and I still don’t know exactly what the fuck that means.” Joel Kim Booster in The Toast.
Lucie Goulet on the lack of representation of female engineers in the fashion press, and why representation matters.
"Why is she humoring him?” “Because he looks scary.” Following from the important and heartbreaking #YesAllWomen Twitterstorm, Amanda Hess in Slate on why most men don’t notice the harassment women experience.
"It was surreal to get everything I wanted in one bright flash.” Roxane Gay in BuzzFeed on the book deal(s) experience.
Alice Gregory on the Longform podcast, talking about how being interested and reactive is the key to being a good talker, and how and when to include your personal experience in the story. … Related, a quote from her Believer interview with Renata Adler: "As she leaned in to answer my questions (and ask plenty of her own), the tail of Adler’s famous, waist-length braid sat coiled on the table like a sleeping snake."
Reading List, Atlantic-to-Pacific edition.
I’m home on the island again and I’m not going anywhere for a long long time.
[David Bowie via @bimadew]
On staying hungry. Rachael Maddux in Medium.
Love Sia Furler. [Steve Knopper, the New York Times]
"I hate vagueness and love ambiguity, and when I die nobody will be able to say that I didn’t choose my own adventure.” Sarah Nicole Prickett’s newsletter for Adult Magazine is good.
The trick of life. Akhil Sharma in the New York Times, via @dailydoseofjess
Some recent notes from Lucy Morris. (This Recording)
Literature’s love affair with the only child. Caitlin Keefe Moran in Medium.
Love how Ellen Willis talks about the freelancer spirit (and jealous of her description of what sounds like the journalism glory days). Excerpt from ‘The Essential Ellen Willis’ in Scratch Magazine.
“It is excruciatingly difficult to try to get someone who doesn’t like heaviness to try to grapple with heavy shit.” Oh Polly! [The Awl]
"With only me to stop me, I was unstoppable.” Ann Friedman on being single. [Marie Claire]
”Study finds that women aren’t run by their periods. Scientists everywhere are confused.” I don’t know whether it’s an editor or Amanda Hess herself who writes her Slate headlines, but they’re always brutal.
"Why do publications make it so hard to figure out what they’re looking for?” Big question from Ann Friedman at CJR.
"Ann Patchett writes in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage that you’re not allowed to complain about not being able to write until you’ve sat down for an hour every day for 30 days trying to do it. She says that she has told countless people the same thing, and none of them have ever come back to complain about it again.” Sit and bleed, says Kara VanderBijl.
Reading List, Island edition.
It’s late and there are no sounds in my house other than the gentle rush of the night traffic, My brain is whirring slowly around nothing and everything, it’s been hours like this and it’s so wonderful when it’s quiet.
I’m still on the meditation, which is nothing like I thought it would be and so much better than I ever thought possible. I am starting to hear the hum again.
[Image: From Iain Baxter ‘Reflected San Francisco Beauty Spots’, 1979]
Los Angeles is a woman. Roxane Gay.
"We are not minds who have bodies, in the way we have a cricket bat or pair of sneakers. We are bodies." Charlotte Wood, via @dailydoseofjess
Keith Gessen in Medium, on the opening up and closing up again of Russia.
A new sense of energy and optimism: The state of journalism 2014, by Amy Mitchell and the Pew Research Journalism Project
Adult Magazine has put some stuff online at long last and it’s thoroughly wonderful. This one is a roundtable about money and how it feels. This one’s about bad sex (LOL), by Chelsea Summers. This one’s in Ruth Curry’s sheets: “It’s one of the nice things that I like about being single - whatever goes, you’re fine.”
"I love the rhythm of all this but it feels like stasis. It feels as if I’m in a purgatory of sorts, and nothing yet has emerged.” Felicia Sullivan
"Sorry, I can’t go out. I’m going to be tired later." Katherine Carlson, The Hairpin.
Pete Doherty, in a field, playing Fuck Forever.
Stevie Nicks’ weather forecast. Because the Internet <3
"The company of fellow travelers, the slow burn, the long view - and the perpetual guiding change of nature. Both are bigger than us; they support and carry us. We can fly at the back of the formation they form and take our place as a part of patterns they make … We set out to make something about companionship and wonder in the face of bitterness and disillusionment - and we set out to hope that companionship and wonder might win." Tilda Swinton, speaking to Carl Swanson at New York Magazine.
“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.” Sylvia Plath
Reading list, Purist edition.
“Reality is in the details, and even if you can predict what’s going to happen you can’t imagine how you’ll feel.” [Chris Kraus / I love Dick]
[Image via Behance: Not Girl with a Pearl Earring]
"There always has to be somebody with a story, somebody who isn’t completely defined by their past achievements, somebody who’s prepared to do ‘that’ … Somebody who will come close to the photographer and be forthright and opinionated, because so many interviews you read these days, you give yourself a shake and realise they’re not saying anything at all." Penny Martin discusses The Gentlewoman, with Steve Watson at Stack.
I’m so happy about Eva Wiseman, and her ways. [The Guardian]
This piece on Nicole Dieker’s first job in telemarketing is strangely wonderful. In The Billfold.
Like I said to my friend: “If you are in the market for a ranty, sweary blog written by a brilliant, mouthy lady with no regard for etiquette, sexual delicacy or personal hygiene, Sam Irby’s your gal.”
"That many freelancers sound like they have to defend their chosen career path says something about the state of the work world. It’s as if being satisfied in your work and how you go about it is something to feel guilty about; like somehow being your own boss is equated with not having a real job and faffing about in your jammies; as if in order to do real work you have toil away at a ‘stable’ job with an office and its attendant politics.” Rae Ann Fera in FastCo Create.
"I hate that by advocating for a few minutes of time to myself it makes me sound like I don’t enjoy collaboration—as if one must be the opposite of the other." In defence of the do-not-disturb sign, by Jason Feifer on FastCompany.
A polaroid a day from San Francisco.
That video of strangers kissing.
I paid the light bill just to see your face: Stephen Powers, muralist. And, Don’t Fret.
The XX Factor section on Slate has been really good lately.
"The face that radiates no life experience, and so, so much awkwardness. While I may not look better at 30 than at 23 … there’s something nice about knowing that whichever ravages of ancientness have yet to reduce me to looking as I did at 16.” Phoebe Maltz Bovy.
This is a timeline of how old Joan Didion was when she published her various books, essays and scripts, because the good stuff takes time. And, Joan Didion on the economy of words.
Reading List, Light Leaks edition
I bought a paper magazine for the first time in about a year: The Gentlewoman. It’s a treasure. The internet (my personal internet at least) seems full of pictures and snippets at the moment, and that’s ok. I think spring is on its way, but since I wasn’t really here for winter I don’t know what the hell is going on. That’s ok too.
"A friend recently tried to console me by saying that I’ve failed at more things than most people have ever tried. Most people, I said, try more honestly." Sarah Nicole Prickett in the archives at Hazlitt, on the privilege of fucking up. “Not trying to do something for which you possess the mind, the talent, and the intelligence, because you cannot bring yourself to care enough, or because you succumb over and over again to the deep dark malaise of self-doubt … that’s failure.”
And to flip it around, Cassie Marketos in Medium: ”In retrospect, I realize that I was suffering from a kind of mimicry. Rather than thoughtfully defining what I personally wanted, I had absorbed an arbitrary value system from my surrounding environment. Based on that, I had created a set of goals that I had no real desire to accomplish, but felt crappy nevertheless for failing to achieve.”
Emily Gould’s essay in Medium. <3
At long last, an article has been written about little girls rubbing Barbies together. Ann Friedman, of course. [NY Magazine]
This photo of Stoya and James Deen, by Clayton Cubitt (NSFW-ish)
The Normcore thing, by Fiona Duncan for NY Magazine
12 months of neon love, by Victoria Lucas and Richard William Wheater.
Very interesting interview with Melissa Gira Grant by David Burr Gerrard in The Awl, about her book on sex work, Playing the Whore.
The shapes of stories, illustrated. [This isn’t Happiness]
Can’t we talk about something more pleasant? By cartoonist Roz Chast in the New Yorker.
The real ending to Harry Potter - Molly McArdie in The Toast.
On the intimacy of binge-watching. Nicholas Miriello in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
The freelancer’s cookbook, by Dayna Evans in The Hairpin. 🍯🍯🍯
Reading List, Little Winter edition
It’s cold now, but not for long. Like Captain Kirk says at the end of ‘Wrath of Khan’: “I feel young.”
[Image: Color Block by Kaitlin Rebesco]
"But the pain of a tattoo is something to which you have to surrender because once you’ve started, you cannot really go back. I enjoy the implacability of that circumstance. You have to allow yourself this pain, you have chosen this suffering, and at the end of it, your body will be different. Maybe your body will feel more like yours." Roxane Gay is brilliant.
"My mom used to be very critical of me when I was a child for how much I needed something to look forward to. She’d say, “Sometimes there’s just nothing to look forward to and you just have to live.” Now I see that I’ve designed my life so that there’s always something to look forward to." Miranda July, interviewed by Ann Friedman for Cos.
"I avoid books that seem to conservatively follow stale formulas. I don’t read for plot, a story “about” this or that. There must be some kind of philosophical depth rendered into the language, something happening." Rachel Kushner on reading, in the New York Times, via @dailydoseofjess
On clever kids and procrastination, by Megan McArdle in The Atlantic.
On changing dreams. Emma Chapman. [A Beautiful Mess]
"Writers are doing other things to make a living all of the time. And yet few of them admit this; and it’s maybe understandable, it maybe does make one seem a little less dedicated to one’s art if you admit how many hours you’re putting in to graft at other things to keep a roof over your head." Jean Hannah Edelstein on how to be a writer (while also paying rent).
Related: Ruth Curry on publishing.
A brief history of having hair extensions in Los Angeles. Julieanne Smolinski in xoJane.
The six stages of receiving gifts (for non-gift people).
Against likeability. Emily Keeler, in Hazlitt.
"Like many thrilling things women do - fucking or hitchhiking, being demoniacally ambitious or telling an asshole to stick a chainsaw in his eye - society tells us that growing up leads to ruin. Yes, you get older, but you can also grow tougher, kinder, braver. You can claw out the life you wanted. But as you age, the world will tell you you’re less worthy, even if you know that’s a lie. If there’s one thing society won’t stand for, it’s for a woman to be content."Molly Crabapple! [Vice]
"A life of nothing comes from not wanting to be any of the things that you naturally are." Heather Havrilesky
Reading List, Solar Flare edition
Hello February! Currently: in Qatar, jetlagged again. Coffee, books, Imran, pale sun and violet sky.
"Maybe my dreams of plenty are a failure of imagination, settling for the felted comforts of comfort, when what I need is a reason, as in a raison. What I want isn’t actually the toothsome beauty and decadence we crave, but instead some act of becoming to give me purpose, meaning. What I need is a bloody grail quest, a Bond villain to best.” Your selfie-realisation, by Chris Wallace in The Awl.
The empathy exams, by Leslie Jamison in The Believer.
The emergency of your life - What they don’t teach you in writing school. Hanif Kureishi in the Daily Telegraph.
Bim Adewunmi: On desire, expressed. #Bims10Things #ladyboner [Related: This photo of James Deen. And that one of Lake Bell, whose film “In a World” blew my mind on the flight from Melbourne.]
A new Eva Wiseman classic, on fainting. In The Guardian.
Great journalism by Hadley Freeman in this interview with Thora Birch.
Natasha Vargas Cooper in Bookforum, on why making teens read literary canon is wrong: they don’t have the experience to understand the often subtle emotional references, so it convinces them reading is boring.
Coincidentally Kate Carraway, Kate Stull and Phoebe Maltz Bovy all wrote about buying and not buying clothes.
Another story about shampoo-free living (Lauren O’Neal in The Hairpin) and I continue to be intrigued. The initial part seems grim but oh the time savings down the line!
There are a lot of right things to choose, says Kate Fridkis’s mother.
Snow days with Hattie Watson.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anaïs Nin