This Week Was Lit

This Week Was Lit! Weekly Roundup: December 7-13

Coming ‘atcha with your Friday roundup of literary haps on the web!

It’s almost the end of the year—a time for reflection and regrouping, looking both backward for insight, and forward to the self we imagine in the year to come. So, what better way to quantify everything in that most neurotic of human impulses…making lists! Haha. Seriously though, poet Ada Limón, has put together the one below, and what she has to say along with it is pretty inspiring.

“How do we count the hours as they elongate in the world’s strange suffering. What helped me navigate the world most this year (and every year?) was books. While I travel constantly and I’m often on the road or in an airport, it was living with a variety of other voices that helped me to feel grounded, less isolated.”

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Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things, and most recently, The Carrying, is a poet I admire, and I feel a kinship to her sentiments in the article below about the powerful role of reading to guide one’s life.

You can find it here at The Millions: “A Year in Reading Ada: Limón.”

 

OMG the Tournament of Books shortlist was released early!! And there are lots of surprises…

Lo and Behold, The Morning News’ 2019 ToB shortlist!

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Of these, I’ve only read So Lucky by Nicola Griffith!

Milkman by Anna Burns, naturally, was/is up there at the top of my reading list for the new year.

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For a NYT interview with Anna Burns, check out “The New Booker Prize Winner Who May Never Write Again,”

I had also planned to read The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman; The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sopinka; The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner; Call me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi; There There by Tommy Orange; and My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

The rest weren’t necessarily on my list, but I may still try to read them, as I’d really like to participate in the festivities!

 

While we’re talking award-winning books I’m dying to read, here is an article interviewing the author of my most anticipated read for next year.

From the New York Times, a great article/interview about National Book Award recipient Sigrid Nunez, “With ‘The Friend,’ Sigrid Nunez Becomes an Overnight Literary Sensation, 23 Years and Eight Books Later.”

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Oh, my beautiful Tin House… This one hurts.

And particularly coming right on the heels of my favorite literary fiction magazine of all time, Glimmer Train, that shuttered its doors this year as well, and which I mourned in a previous post.

Tin House announces their farewell to one of the coolest independent art and literature quarterlies around: On the Closing of Tin House Magazine. They will continue to publish books and hold workshops, which is where the funds previously allotted to the magazine will be diverted.

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Photo from Lit Hub

Both of these publications were Portland native, two of the three quarterlies that I subscribed to consistently over the years, the third being Black Warrior Review. The fact that both of these gems are saying goodbye just as they are ringing in their 20th and 30th anniversaries, makes it that more of a gut punch. I’m so very sad to see them go.

 

On a brighter note, this new children’s book just legit gives me the warm fuzzies.

This beautiful book, a labor of love created by Maria Popovo of Brain Pickings, is introduced in her announcement article, “A Velocity of Being: Illustrated Letters to Children about Why We Read by 121 of the Most Inspiring Humans in Our World.”
It was so cool, that it sold out in like the first few days. Dang, and, I am beyond stoked about the authors included in the anthology.

A labor of love 8 years in the making, featuring contributions by Jane Goodall, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline Woodson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Oliver, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Rebecca Solnit, Elizabeth Gilbert, Shonda Rhimes, Richard Branson, Marina Abramović, Judy Blume, and other remarkable humans living inspired and inspiring lives.

What a a beautiful idea to introduce children to the love of literature, and the reasons why certain works of art remain timeless. A perfect gift for the kiddos of any literarily inclined friend or loved one. The artwork is so striking and strange and magical, and the material within so special, it really would be a treasure for adults and children alike.

I love that you can also purchase prints of the individual drawings from Society 6, as announced in, “Illustrators Celebrate the Joy of Books: 11 Art Prints from “A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader.”

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Art by Mouni Feddag for a letter by Alain de Botton from A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader. Get the print.

 

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Art by Ofra Amit for a letter by Mara Faye Lethem from A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader. Get the print.

 

The Art of Jealousy

Elisa Gabbet from The Paris Weekly wrote an article this week that I love so much, “On Writerly Jealousy.” That it begins with a discussion of Sylvia Plath’s work is what first drew me in, but what follows is even better. I appreciate the honesty in this article even when it makes her look “bratty,” as she say.s 

“There’s a bad double bind in being a writer: If you don’t write about things people are interested in, nobody is going to read you. But if you write about things people are interested in, other people are writing about them, too. Reading writers I admire writing about things I want to write about, obsessions I’m protective of, makes me feel unspecial: a bratty thing to feel, or at least to admit.”

It discusses a topic that I, too, have struggled with as a writer. For every idea you can think of, it seems someone, perhaps many someones, have already done it before, and, ones fears, better. I remember feeling this way even in college, where it sometimes seemed every idea I had that I thought was original, someone else had notice or written about it before. I even felt this way in the classroom, rushing to speak up fearing someone else might say what I wanted to say first.

So, how does one stand out?

The article also discusses a similar phenomenon in reverse—those who consume art being jealous when other people also love what they love. Those “I-found-them-first-and-no-one-else-reallyyy-understands-their-art/music/writing-like-I-do” vibes. This reminds me of ye olde hipster manifesto of “I liked it before anyone else liked it,” and once the masses think it’s cool, it’s no longer cool.

There is another interesting article I read this week as well that, despite being focused on filmic storytelling, rather than literature, speaks to some of these ideas: “Rewriting Trauma: The Business of Storytelling in the Age of the Algorithm.”

“As storytellers, we help produce what seems today a vast sea of almost limitless content; our audiences simultaneously feel the virtual presence of this infinite galaxy of stories, while at the same time they must turn away from it, and somehow drown out the overwhelming din of its endless appeals, by substituting or covering that din with the noise of just one particular story at a time (or, if they keep their phones, their laptops, and their TVs on and at hand, three or more simultaneous stories)…”

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Last but not least, a challenge I would like to participate in for the new year.

Check out Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2019! And here is the link to downloadable and editable PDF of all the awesome tasks!

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“The Read Harder Challenge, created and written by Rachel Manwill, is back and we’re celebrating Year #5. Book Riot’s annual challenge gets bigger every year with more and more of you discovering this reading adventure. Once again, Read Harder has 24 tasks designed to help you break out of your reading bubble and expand your worldview through books. With new genres, new authors, and new points of view, the challenge will (hopefully) help you discover amazing books you wouldn’t have otherwise picked up.”

Loving the journal so much, btw!

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A Literary Blog I’m Loving

As with much of the independent bookish content I unearth on the web, I discovered Conquistadora Books on Instagram through Yafrainy Familia’s account @conquistadora.books.

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I can’t tell you how much I love her feed. Her photos (as you can see for yourself below) are gorgeous, vibrant and impeccably composed, and the material discussed therein is intelligent, insightful, thoughtful and unique. It truly is a joy to explore.

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«I just couldn’t live without writing. Why?… When I was a child, when I was an adolescent, books saved me from despair: that convinced me that culture was the highest of values, and it is impossible for me to examine this conviction with an objective eye.» — The Woman Destroyed, Simone de Beauvoir. • Hey guys, I finally decided to read Simone de Beauvoir. I picked The Woman Destroyed, which are three well-known stories. This book is part of her fiction, although the voice and plot sound so real, I believe they might be based on her own life. Either way, the writing is gorgeous, witty and brilliant. It makes me want to be in Paris drinking coffee and reading books. Happy Friday, readers 🌺🍃

A post shared by Yafrainy Familia (@conquistadora.books) on

Her blog is, unsurprisingly, lovely as well. As described by her, the site is “a bilingual space dedicated to diverse books, writing and traveling.” In it, she takes a much deeper dive into some of the material shared on her Instagram account, in the form of beautifully written and explored essays.

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Photo by @conquistadorabooks

Her latest, “On Accents, Migrating, and Jhumpa Lahiri.” Here she discusses Lahiri’s book, In Other Words, a reflection on her time spent in Italy teaching herself to write in the native language, and exploring her relationship with reading, writing, and language itself. Having loved Lahiri’s two collections of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth I’ve been interested in picking up this book for quite awhile, and even more so now.

 

A Brilliant Instagrammer, Article Writer, and Newsletter Curator

Her name is Victoria Storm, and I implore you to visit her Instagram account @becomingliterate, and subscribe to her weekly newsletter by the same name, like yesterday. She describes her mission as “pursuing comprehensive literacy via reading 24/7,”  and hers has long been one of my favorite accounts, with beautiful photos and insights to match. Her taste in literature is impeccable, and I’m often led to books and authors that I wasn’t familiar with.

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“I’m restless and harsh and despairing. Although I do have love inside me. I just don’t know how to use love. Sometimes it tears at my flesh, like barbs. If I can hold so much love within me, and nevertheless continue to be uneasy, it’s because I need God to come. Come, before it’s too late. I’m in danger, as is everyone who’s alive.” . Rating: 10/10 . . . . . . . . . . #bookstagram #amreading #bibliophile #booklover #belletrist #belletristbabe #girlsatlibrary #coolgirlsread #bookclub #bookoftheday #bookofthemonth #shelfie #femaleauthors #bookclub #booklove #whatimreading #thatsdarling #becauseofreading #bookstagram #booklovers #ilovebooks#vscoreads #igreads #betterwithbooks #litfic #penguinmodernclassics #claricelispector #aguaviva

A post shared by Victoria Storm (@becomingliterate) on

And overall, I am just so impressed with her vision and her work.

You can sign up for the Becoming Literate newsletter, HERE. I admire her approach and enjoy her voice and candor, and I think you will too.

The two articles below can be found in her Linktree on the ‘gram, but to make it easier for you, I’ve linked to them below.

The first, “The Simple Healing Power of a ‘Mental Health Shelf'” was published on the ever-cool Man Repeller. The photo below also links to her Instagram post on the same topic. AND I absolutely loved that week’s newsletter, which discussed this and bibliotherapy in general.

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Photo by Victoria Storm

 

Because that particular issue of the BL newsletter is from awhile back, and thus isn’t listed in the archive, I’ll include the link to an AWESOME article she referred to on the topic, and to a site that deals with the concept of a “sanity shelf.” Both were included, and I was secretly jealous I hadn’t discovered them myself haha.

The article is, “Can Reading Make You Happier?”  published by the The New Yorker.
The website to check out is  Girls at Library.

Finally, back to Storm’s own writing, below is her article, “How to Learn Everything You Need to Know,” which can be found at Cultura Journal.

 

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Photo by Victoria Storm

 

 

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