Most readers have their own idiosyncratic systems for displaying the most valuable titles they own. For a lot of people, it makes the most sense to keep their favorite books on a particular shelf. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein writes about an odd phenomenon — “The Phantom Shelf,” which consists of books you love so much you had to lend them to friends. (Related: Kevin Hartnett on reading our parents’ bookshelves.)
John Steinbeck’s son criticizes the state of Texas for invoking Of Mice and Men‘s Lennie Small, in ruling that certain mentally retarded individuals can be sentenced to the death penalty. The great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville wonders where her great-great-great-grandfather’s editor was when he wrote Moby Dick.
“Think the kennel partner was a man? Think he was, in Braverman’s telling, threatened by her success? You are correct. There are so many stories like this, in Double Bind, of ambition built up and then put in its place: the high school classmate who sneered to Roxane Gay, when he learned that she’d been accepted to Yale when he had not, ‘affirmative action.'”
The Believer posts a 2003 essay featuring Donald Barthelme’s reading list, which came secondhand to Kevin Moffett, a self-professed non-reader: “Barthelme’s only guidance, passed on by Padgett Powell, one of Barthelme’s former students at the University of Houston and my teacher at the time, was to attack the books ‘in no particular order, just read them,’ which is exactly what I, in my confident illiteracy, resolved to do.” (via The Paris Review)
“To some degree, as I move outside of the exclusive genre audience, the exclusive genre issues don’t bother me as much.” The Atlantic talks with N.K. Jemisin, the first black writer to win speculative fiction’s Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Fifth Season. We wrote about Jemisin’s work when she was nominated for the Hugos a few years back.
“I prefer … to believe, in the weird and sometimes happy accidents that result—in this case—in kissing a beautiful stranger in the rain. It didn’t really change anything, but it wasn’t trivial. It was one of those encounters that rises up out of nowhere and sinks back into it, giving off light and energy as it goes.” Kim Addonizio’s new addition to Guernica’s “The Kiss” series is fantastic and life-affirming.