Reading List, Big Thing edition
Hello, I am happy. It’s a little weird to say that but also, pretty cool. I’m not sure what happens next, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will be fun. I mean, why not.
Some good things: London, all of it. Invitations to friends’ weddings; amazingly none of my friends are married yet so this is a first. The cinema, where I go just twice a year but then love it. That salted caramel ice cream cake thing at Hawksmoor, where for a moment I understood why some people claim foods are better than sex (but just for a moment). Stoke Newington, my London pocket. Science fiction. Thai food. Karima. Tara. Magni, my mother. The almost-summer feeling. The man who calls me Girlfriend and makes me blush.
“The writer has to negotiate with her memories, and with her reader, and find a way, without interrupting the flow, to caution that this cannot be a true record: this is a version, seen from a single viewpoint. But she has to make it as true as she can.” Hilary Mantel in the New York Times. (via @dailydoseofjess)
“But I didn’t ever have to go to an office, didn’t ever have to commute during rush hour, didn’t ever have to go to a meeting, and never had to buy or wear any article of clothing because it would be good “for work.” As my remnants of workwear wore out, my wardrobe devolved in a cotton-lycra blend-y direction. I got really good at creating elaborate procrastination regimens, taking advantage of my ability to do chores and errands on weekdays that office workers can only squeeze into their weekends and lunch hours. It took me several years – really, it took starting a business — for me to figure out that this attitude is anathema to getting any kind of work done; even if you don’t have a 9 to 5 job, it behooves you to be at your desk during those hours, even if it means taking more-crowded yoga classes.” Emily Gould, on the thing that seems to be turning into my Big Thing for 2013.
I can’t put my finger on why I love this Eva Wiseman piece but oh my how I do.
Christian Lorentzen on expatriatism, in the London Review of Books. (via @communitydisco)
Mills Baker on a triumph at 4am.
Amanda Hess on Angelina Jolie’s preventative mastectomy, in Slate. [Related: what is possible the most offensive Daily Hate Mail headline yet. I can’t even.]
Daft Punk spoke to Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music, and I listened to the radio in my own house for the first time in my life. Also, Caitlin’s ‘Get Lucky’ addiction diary (£). Song of the year, guys.
” “No. Because…” he chooses his words carefully, “my parents loved the f***ing life out of me. So I felt confident about the world. Not… entitled. Just like… I could step into the world. Investigate it.” ”
Caitlin Moran meets Benedict Cumberbatch (£) and yeah, she smashes it.
“You know what I need to do though? Put the phone down and ask myself who in the whole wide world is supposed to take responsibility for what I write if I won’t do it myself. … You have to stop walking around like a giant fucking question mark. You have to stop looking for reassurance from half-interested friends, and you have to stop asking other people to help you shape your work from start to finish. Calm the fuck down and get back to work.” Realtalk from Heather Havrilesky in The Awl. Oh, um, yeah. Ok.
Reading List, In-the-Circle edition
May happened. Among other things. … Heh! I can’t explain and I won’t even try, so for now at least, here are some other people’s stories.
“I went to Homer, Alaska during breakup season, the time of year when the ice splits apart and things start to thaw. Breakup season, people warned me again and again prior to my arrival, is ugly. Sometimes it snows, sometimes it rains, but it’s always wet. Breakup season is all brown and gray in a state that’s usually crisp whites and blues and greens. But everyone, it turns out, is kind of excited about breakup season. They don’t compare the muddy thaw to summer, which is by then a distant memory, but to the winter they’ve just weathered. “Boy, it was a long one,” said the coffee shop owner from Corpus Christi who had a smoker’s rasp and stick-and-poke hand tats and a single diamond stud in his ear. “So breakup season ain’t so bad.” Ann Friedman
The prettiest girl in New York is a porn star. Amanda Hess’s cover story on Stoya.
What should we call girl pain? Safy Hallan Farah (via @britticisms)
How to ditch happily ever after and build your own romantic narrative. Amanda Hess from the ‘Good’ archives. #this
“I allowed [the photographer] to get to me because I was already over scheduled. Tired. Doubting my ability to juggle everything and doubting how much of the positive feedback on my aerial work and writing is because I’m actually good and how much is just because I’m naked on the internet. Wondering how much of my success in life is based on merit and how much is just beauty privilege. Unable to figure out how to even discuss these concerns without coming off like an egotistical asshat for calling myself pretty or beautiful in the first place.” Stoya on (not) standing up for herself. #AndSheWasWithholdingCaffeine
“Stability, intellectual peer and monster sex machine.” Robert Downey Jr describes his wife and yes (£).
Everything Caitlin says in this Evening Standard interview.
“Men I might regret sleeping with were it not for the music they introduced me to.” Lily Heron in The Hairpin.
Daily Fleetwood: Stevie Nicks’ original demo for The Chain - completely different than the final version, and mesmerising.
“What do you want to do when you get back on the internet?” “I want to do things for other people.” Paul Miller is back after a year without the internet (via @dailydoseofjess) #reallife
“What if news organizations confronted the reality that nearly all media will be ‘social media’ a decade hence? … What if news organizations acknowledged this - or even got out in front of it, ahead of the curve this time - and organized themselves as platforms for talent?” Big whoa idea by Nicco Mele and John Wibhey at Nieman Journalism Lab.
“It was 1968. Early summer evening, a Saturday. My mate and I were hitching home in the Essex countryside. We got a lift from a happy couple in a boaty car that smelled of leather and engine oil. We were 15, they were proper old, 20-ish. Relaxed and so very much in love. They treated us as equals, laughed at our jokes, we smoked their cigarettes. Walk Away Renee by the Four Tops came on the radio. We all sang along to the chorus. I felt a blissful certainty that life as an adult might genuinely be a laugh. The entire encounter lasted no more than 10 minutes. I have thought about that couple every day since. Every day, for 45 years. Imagine that. A Belisha Beacon of kindness pulsing through the murk of a whole life.” Ian Martin in The Guardian.
“I can’t say in all honesty that it’s as if it was written by somebody else, but it was written by a different version of myself, and in a way, it’s more radical, because the selves we leave behind are more strange to us than strangers.” John Banville.
Reading List, Orbital edition
“I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.” [Mary Oliver]
[image] … Spring is here for real and it’s not a relief, it’s an electric shock. Happening: lots of work, lots of miles on the Overground (the unofficial London Orbital), lots of listening to The Black Keys. The new Daft Punk track is delicious. … Another thing, and this is big for someone who’s always hated being misunderstood: I’m starting to realise I don’t really care what anyone thinks anymore. *drops mic, walks off stage*
“To move with purpose is to rebel against the world that manipulates how we exist within it.” Britt Julious in WBEZ, writing beautifully on how to walk like you own the place. #strut
“I don’t actually think these events really happened to me, but they’ll still come to mind when I think back on a time when a secondhand event seemed to hold some kind of truth that reality did not.” Tavi Gevinson. Ooooh I remember feeling like this. [See also: the existence in this world of Before Midnight, the second sequel to Before Sunrise, which was out when I was 15 and I wore out the tape. I can’t even think about this last instalment, I’m too excited.]
Experience matters, by Jon Reiner in The Atlantic (via). Basically, it’s that Thoreau quote again: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
Madison Moore knows good sex [Thought Catalog] #4
Caitlin Moran proves why she’s the queen in this piece on how to drink - properly. (£)
“There’s no point in your language being “correct”, if only 12 of your friends can understand it.” Helen Lewis on perfection in language.
“Because life is very, very boring if we don’t scare ourselves.” Penelope Trunk and the realisation of wanting not happiness, but an interesting life.
Ann Friedman on the Longform podcast, on why she’s so excited to be working at this moment in media. #patronus
The personal self: One more from Friedman on merging the personal and the professional - this is from last year but it’s still sound, and not just for journalism. There are some things I’m not talking about still, but maybe it’s time to bring my whole self to the table? … I’m thinking a lot about this at the moment.
Reading List, Spring-is-being-Dreamed edition
“Since the thing perhaps is
to eat flowers and not to be afraid”
[Image by Peter Zéglis; quote by EE Cummings. Am resisting the urge to call it the ‘Coldsnap edition’, as I like to keep it sunny side up. But to record-cold March: don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And hello April, I have plans for you!]
“It was about doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. It was about being the person you’ve always wanted to be. It was about seeing things yourself, staying curious, learning, laughing, confronting your fears, finding what you love and never letting go.” Britt Julious on being a solitary person, beautifully.
“When you were not writing, you’d ask yourself, ‘What am I doing? Why am I doing this instead of work?’ ” Renata Adler interview in Believer Magazine (via)
Kara VanderBijl hits refresh, in This Recording.
“To resist is an active state.” It’s Eva Wiseman.
Ben Lytal on maps, in The Paris Review.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” A thought-provoking essay by Anna March in Salon.
Tomorrow is a latter day: Oliver Burkeman on the Book of Mormon. I can confirm the hype on this super-offensive musical after Imran and I went to see it the other week. And this is from someone who hates musicals. [In related offensiveness: the Found Footage Festival! After which Laura and I came out wide-eyed with wonder over how insane and wonderful the world is. Jazzercise! Worldliness! Oh it goes on.]
“This is not relevant to the post. But I need you to know it because it’s fascinating to me, and I want you to be fascinated by the article, too. I loved the song the guy wrote. I loved the photo Melissa edited. I want you to see the amazing things I see so that we can talk about it.” Penelope Trunk.
“I don’t think there are “good girls” and “bad girls”, I think there are girls “who think food is the same as sex” and those who “don’t”.” Kate Carraway is good at Twitter.
The Gateway Pie from Ann Friedman. Am mentally compiling my own pie on this topic; so far I’ve got Adderall, Pinterest, and emoji :/ [Also, Friedman’s weekly newsletter of what she’s written has a little reading list in it too, and it’s worth subscribing to just for that.]
“We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less. We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining loss, we’ll suffer less. We’re wrong. There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.” Brené Brown, in this post by Jessica Stanley on not being afraid to be openly happy about it anymore. High five.
Reading List, Wordsmith edition
Kenny: You must fancy her rotten.
Spike: Who, Lynda? I’d drink her bathwater.
Press Gang! So many feelings. Image by Damian Loeb. This list is full of worthsmithery, because that is ultimately what it’s about. Ok not all of it. There’s also spring, red wine, coconut ice cream, and this: Buckingham Nicks’ 1974 version of ‘Sorcerer’. Happiness.
“I can remember the smells of every one of my boyfriends - one smelled of flan, one of wool sweaters removed in fall from the wooden drawers in which they’d spent the summer, one of Pears soap, one of paisley (imagine what a paisley would smell like - like a father, I guess), one of puffed rice, one of coffee that’s percolated upward through the top of a skull. I once had a confused relationship with a smoker. I kept trying to get a sexual read off of him, but he just smelled like smoke. I deemed him unknowable and broke up with him.” Heidi Julavits (via) and, ehm, swoon.
Sophie Heawood’s Vice column every Friday is so my new favourite thing. The last paragraph in this one kills me.
“Beauty breeds beauty, truth triggers truth. The cure for writer’s block is therefore to read.” Matt Haig on writing, in The Telegraph
“And because doing something is always better than doing nothing, and because sometimes in order to do something you have to do whatever it takes.” Emily Gould
Eva Wiseman is feeling better now, but she was ill. [The Guardian]
Texts from the Babysitters Club. [The Hairpin]
When you hear hoofbeats, think zebras. [Ciara]
“A tablet is never just a tablet, but is hope sealed in a blister pack.” Love this piece by Gaby Hinsliff, on the placebo effect. [The Guardian]
Kate Stull on The Billfold, being my hero in this piece on being an introvert and asking for what you want.
““It has to do with: what is the fundamental core of human nature?” Early Enlightenment thinkers wrote about how it is creative character that separates humans from the rest of the organic world. This character is manifested most clearly in language. Later intellectuals extended this idea to the social sphere. “So, if there is anything that restricts a person’s natural need to carry out creative work under their own direction, that is illegitimate.”” Lunch with Noam Chomsky, The Financial Times
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” [Margaret Atwood]
Reading List, Spring Equinox edition
“I dealt with it the same way I deal with everything. I just tended my own garden, didn’t pay much attention, behaved - I suppose - deviously. I mean I didn’t actually let too many people know what I was doing.”
Joan Didion said this, about something specific but it doesn’t matter; I’m claiming it. Image by Alexandra Valenti, of self-made rainbows and, also, the yoga pose I can now do for the first time. I feel good about that. I feel good about a lot of things. Spring is so close, and there’s fun to be had.
“What compels me to return home to it is to see and learn more, not be reassured by what I think I already know.” A beautiful piece by fellow in-house journalist Zakia Uddin, in The Paris Review.
“In the past year or so, I have gone from someone who felt I had a ‘personal brand’ as a journalist specializing in sex to someone whose career mantra became Nuke Your Personal Brand. The more I embraced this the more I become the same with everyone. The me I upload on instagram is the same me I present to my parents. ” Comments about Persona by Rachel R White. #this
Why women make up names for the people they date. In The Atlantic by Sara O’Brien. #newboy
“I am in a constant negotiation with Norway. It is no one’s fault: it is a function of cultural difference. I like to think we have reached a rapprochement.” In the Financial Times, Derek Miller is an American in Oslo (via). Related: Bark up or down? Firewood splits Norwegians [New York Times]
A Tesco has opened on Tim Dowling’s street. [The Guardian]
“Digital journalism isn’t really about writing, any more - not in the manner that freelance print journalists understand it, anyway. Instead, it’s more about reading, and aggregating, and working in teams; doing all the work that used to happen in old print-magazine offices, but doing it on a vastly compressed timescale.” The trouble with online freelance journalism, by Felix Salmon in Reuters. Like Rachel Hills points out, the most shocking fact in this story is probably that there are retainer jobs out there paying $125,000 for six stories. #DearSanta
The science of sleeplessness. Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker
“Far from being delusional or faith-based, having a positive outlook in difficult circumstances is not only an important predictor of resilience — how quickly people recover from adversity — but it is the most important predictor of it.” Emily Esfahani Smith on how the benefits of optimism are real, in The Atlantic.
“The darkest of dark secrets: how much I hadn’t read, and didn’t know. How little I felt I had to say that was different, or new, or mattered.” On ghostwriting Sweet Valley High, by Amy Boesky in the Kenyon Review (via everyone)
“I drank coffee outside my office the morning I decided to stop trying to remove parts of myself and I stood content with who I’ve become as well as all my past versions.” Anaïs Escobar on the meaning of ink. In This Recording, which I’m really enjoying these days.
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” Oscar Wilde
Reading List, Rush-of-Blood-to-the-Head edition
There was a moment, it was last Friday night as I stepped out from Camden Road station, when the air was just a little bit warmer and the weekend was just starting, and I found myself locking eyes with a stranger and we both smiled. And I could feel it: spring is coming.
[Artwork by Harland Miller, via This Isn’t Happiness, which is a really great Tumblr]
“Bruce [Springsteen] is a writer so he had to learn this too, that you’ll spend half your life trying to pass as generic, the written equivalent of the newscaster’s non-regional dialect, and then quite suddenly you’ll spend the other half peeling off the varnish and getting down to the business of telling your story in your own cracked accent.” Lindsay Zoladz for the Unbest project.
Who cares about work-life balance when you can have work-life fusion? (Harvard Business Review, via Nextness)
And seamlessly on to Stefan Sagmeister on TED: The power of time off
The age of girlfriends, by Anna Holmes in the New Yorker (via). I’m not sure I agree entirely, but I so so get it (#She’sMyPerson). “It is other women, not men, who most impact the evolution of girls into women. Other women, not men, who provide the opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery. Other women, not men, who bear witness to the triumphs and tragedies of young womanhood. Other women, not men, in whom we both find and lose ourselves.”
Related: The description of emails to a friend while on a family holiday, by Durga Chew-Bose in This Recording.
Nicole Cliffe reads her way through the stomach flu, in The Hairpin.
This is the first post in the new-ish blog by one Alex Marie Lombino. She’s good with tangents, and there’s food, too.
“I was different then, less malleable and a bit more stupid. But I was also shy and not really able to explain.” Sylvie Guillem interviewed by The Guardian.
“Chose a way harder and way more excellent career path than I was about to (easier than it sounds).” Kate Carraway: Best stuff I ever did to be happy.
“Now is not the time to wilt into the underbrush of your insecurities. You have earned the right to grow. You must carry the water yourself.” [Cheryl Strayed]
Reading List, Londinium edition
It feels like it’s coming together. [image]
“I think at one point I accidentally fell asleep after doing some work, and woke up thinking I could keep sleeping if I wanted to, or do anything, or nothing.” Edith Zimmerman’s happiest moment of her trip to London. I read this sentence again and I love it a little more.
Sophie Heawood on the weirdness of having a kid, in her new and awesome Vice column. This piece is the opposite of mumsy; in fact it’s exquisite.
Rachel R White in Thought Catalog: Another one on babies that isn’t really about babies. Because in between there are these moments about being in awe of grown-up city life, and it shines.
“We’re the ladies.” [Ann Friedman in the New Republic] I adore the term “lady” and was so excited to see this piece pop up. I appreciate my fangirling over Ms Friedman is getting a bit out of hand, but what can I say, the lady’s got it going on.
“If you don’t design your career, someone else will” Greg McKeown is a man with a plan.
Meet people, get a job (even if you’re an introvert). Kate Stull makes the case for networking in The Billfold. As horrific as the concept sounds for my lot, I may need to crack on with this. … BTW I’m increasingly enjoying reading The Billfold - the articles are just as diverse as anywhere else but it bravely takes into account that dirty topic that is money.
Maggie Hamilton is looking for a new job.
A guide to freelancing, by Jeremy Gordon (via). Jeremy says 9am is early enough for a freelancer to get out of bed, and he seems to have his shit together. Meaning, there’s hope for me yet.
“I’m fairly certain that this happened, and almost 90% certain that it happened to me.” Emily Gould
Reading List, London Calling edition
After six weeks on the road I’m very happy to return to London, and to my favourite morning habit of coffee and RSS reader. As this is partly a personal archive, the first Reading List of 2013 covers the backlog. … Being away meant 2013 sort of sneaked up on me, but that’s ok as I’m not in the market for any major resolutions. 2012 was about asking for what I want instead of what I can get, which proved both necessary and fruitful so I’m going to carry this motto through to 2013. As they say in Scandinavia: I’m ready as an egg.
[Triangle amazingness by Spires, and there’s lots more where that came from. And, a documentary-ish version of ‘Angel’ (via) where Stevie wears legwarmers in two separate scenes. #this]
Rachel Hills makes resolutions. I like her thing about tackling one thing a month. I may steal this. #NoMoreMissionDrift
In celebration of Berlin, now officially a Top Three City (alongside London and San Francisco): How to be German.
“If people abandon the traditional model and forgo children or marriage it does not destroy societies, it can liberate them.” Jill Filipovic in The Guardian. This debate on the alleged selfishness on child-free living has come and gone, but I just need to say, selfish how? Your genes are not that special, I assure you. [Related.]
Kate Fridkis eats all the donuts, learns who she is.
Jean Edelstein is learning German. #bloghalloffame
Emily Gould on a man using her presence as an outlet for whatever it was he was feeling, even though she’d made it clear she wasn’t interested. Made all the more pertinent because I read this while in India, where this sort of stuff had been happening more days than not.
Edith Zimmerman in The Awl: Advice is futile.
And my 10 favourite blogs right now. These:
Reading List, Indian Winter edition
England, I love you dearly but you’re cold and dark and rapidly becoming impossible. I wish I could remain graceful as this gets worse, but as I can’t (#brat), I’m doing a preemptive strike and getting on a plane. I’m going to a place I know nothing about, except that it’s hot and light and full of wonder. India, I’m rolling the dice.
[Image: Aaron Siskind (1956) The Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation // Walk like a Panther by Jarvis Cocker + All Seeing I, via the other Jess]
Christopher Hudspeth in Thought Catalog on the feelings we should be able to bottle for later use. “4:59 PM on a Friday. 4:59 PM is the Edge of Glory that Lady Gaga was singing about. 4:59 PM is that the helicopter when you’re on a deserted island. 4:59 PM looks like rainbows, smells like roses and tastes like bacon.” [Also on TC, this list of what happens when it’s been too long since you’ve had sex; every single point is like reading my own diary from what I now know as the Great Drought of 2008.]
How to make a truly spectacular cup of coffee, in Slate. 2012 US Barista champion Katie Carguilo reveals how it’s done, but as it gets complicated and long-winded all I can say is stop blocking the caffeine. Having said that, I do respect a good obsession.
On that note: Tess Lynch on how she’s fucked up her coffee. Key takeaway: “I drank it anyway.”
In Nerve, Rachel Rabbit White asks her parents how they met and it’s adorable.
Ciara at Hilarity in Shoes: Reuptake
A few pieces on travelling. Wanting to go is a hard habit to break: Living with your wanderlust by Julia Phillips in The Hairpin. Dawn Foster: The perks of travelling alone. Some practical travel tips from Jodi Ettenberg, from her excellent travel blog ‘Legal Nomads’. And in case you’re wondering how this freelancer can afford to go to India, this is how.
Penelope Trunk: How to develop your resilience. Similarly, Liz Rush on hustling her way onto an airplane, in The Billfold. This is a skill I want above so many others.
I love these photos by Matt Fry, of Claire Corbeau and her amazing tattoos. Yes I’m hankering for number 9. Oh and the Crashingly Beautiful tumblr: go, browse, stay.
“A state of grace is that kind of balance with which you ride the chaos that you find around you. It’s not a matter of resolving the chaos, because there’s something arrogant and warlike about putting the world in order. But having that kind of, like an escape ski down over a hill. Just going through the contours.” Leonard Cohen.