“In Her Debut Column, Maris Kreizman Considers This Spring’s Flood of Great Books”
Maris Kreizman describes the kinds of books she, as a critic, likes to cover:
The books that move me aren’t the kinds that are written by celebrities; they’re often labors of love that are beautifully written but don’t necessarily have a built-in audience. They probably aren’t getting huge sales pushes or bookings on morning shows. I feel beholden to advocate for these debut novels or essay collections or literary biographies, but there are not nearly enough hours in the day to look at all of them.
Usually, she says, there are about eight or nine books she wants to cover in any given month, and she is able to read four or five of them. But this March “there are 30 books on my radar that I want to read.” That number “is beyond the scope of one person or one publication to adequately cover even a few of them.”
Why, then, aren’t publishers spreading out all these new books over a few months so that fewer of them will fall through the publicity cracks? Blame the situation on the 2024 national election in the U.S., when people wiil be more interested in keeping up with politics than in reading a new novel.
To help us navigate this huge wave of book publications in March, Kreizman gives us access to her spreadsheet and encourages us to talk with local librarians and booksellers to help us “look beyond the three or four buzzy books of the month and consider the many gems you may otherwise miss.”
Jael Goldfine laments the dissolution of feminist media: “With exceptions like Teen Vogue and The Cut, most of the women’s publications that survived the 2010’s rarely cover politics or publish criticism, and rather focus on fashion, celebrity and internet culture.”
unsurprisingly, journalists tell me that the landscape for feminist writing has become narrow, competitive, and lonely. The options available—tidying pitches up for mainstream publications, making inroads at lefty magazines, or forging into the creator economy—are leaving behind crucial stories about women, feminism and gender.
“A requirement of writing well is the capacity to trust yourself.”
Temim Fruchter, author of the novel City of Laughter, describes a time in her life when she hit rock bottom—physically, mentally, existentially:
Without my noticing it, I’d become something of a shell, populated only by my anxieties and doubts, the ones multiplying so quickly by the day that before long, they’d replaced whatever else had preceded them. . . . I had taken my place in the world but my place in the world didn’t want me anymore and my body knew this with a certainty my brain did not possess.
Sometimes, I fear that I throw around concepts like change your story, change your life glibly, without experientially understanding how very fundamentally difficult and unsettling such a process has to be. But Fruchter explains that process very well here—how writing fiction helped her find her way back into life.
It’s a good article. I encourage you to read all the way through it.
“The New Yorker writer and bestselling author — who says he’s not a ‘natural writer’ — shares the research and writing process behind his latest book”
I’m always interested in pieces about an author’s writing process, particularly when that author writes nonfiction, which is where my writing lives. I was especially intrigued by Katia Savchuk’s remark in the introduction to the interview that David Grann’s latest work The Wager “is not only an enthralling tale of survival, but also an exploration of how certain narratives prevail while competing versions of the truth are suppressed.”
Full disclosure: I’ve been logging my reading on Goodreads since long before Amazon took it over (which this article tells me was in 2013). I continue to use it for the few stats it throws at me at the end of every year: how many books I read that year, how many pages, the average length of my books, my average rating. It’s not my major book-tracking method (I use a spreadsheet for that), but it’s quick and easy for the way I use it.
And I continue to use it because of inertia—it’s easier to keep doing what I’ve been doing than to try to find something else that might offer a better experience. But a lot of people have either sworn off Goodreads or would like to. If you’re in either of those two categories, the article suggests some useful options.
What particularly appeals to me about this article is that it comes from the tech department rather than the book department of the Washington Post. I love the folks at Book World, but I appreciate how the tech writers can run an app through its paces and judge its performance.
I have big plans for an upcoming discussion post on my ambivalent relationship with social media. For now, let me just say up front that I don’t have the TikTok app on my phone and have never even looked at the website. (I assume it has a website, but I don’t really know).
However, every bookstore that I’ve visited since the world reopened after COVID has a dedicated shelf of BookTok-recommended books, so I accept that TikTok exists. And if you’re interested, here’s one Book Riot writer’s opinion of it.
I was impressed with this list because it doesn’t feature all the latest self-help books. Instead, it’s a solid selection of both nonfiction and fiction “that will leave a lasting impression on your life.” It features nonfiction such as The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, nicely balanced by fiction such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
We readers use the alphabet every day, but how much do we really know about its origin? In this article aimed at kids, Jane Sancinito, assistant professor of history at the Lowell campus of the University of Massachusetts, provides some insight. And don’t be fooled by the kid emphasis; I found a lot of information here that I either never knew or had forgotten.
© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown