Meet Shondaland, a new website created by Shonda Rhimes and dedicated to storytelling that launched this week. One of their most recent posts highlights 28 books to read this fall. We know there’s a lot of reading recommendation lists around this time of year (like our September preview) but we appreciate the diversity of this list in particular and its willingness to hold back judgment if we don’t finish all the suggestions. Pair with our interview with Jesmyn Ward (whose Sing, Unburied Sing made the list), along with Year in Reading alum Eleanor Henderson’s Twelve Mile Straight.
Somewhat overshadowed by David Simon’s recent op-ed on the state of modern America (if not capitalism itself) was the news that Wendell Pierce – featured prominently in both The Wire and Treme – secured a book deal for his meditation on Hurricane Katrina and “the effect it had on his family, his life, his memory, and his hometown.”
Out this week: Black Glass by Karen Joy Fowler; The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera; The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler; The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George; The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango; Tradition by Daniel Khalastchi; and Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“In the twenty-first century, the lyric essay at its worst is a utility or an app; at its best, it’s a cross-hatch of a genre in which things cross over; implicitly chiasmic, it’s a space in which incompatible discourses are allowed to intermingle; wherein poetry and prose create productive frictions, enabling a new, unnatural form, illegible and readable for the first time.” Mary Cappello writes about the lyric essay and Djuna Barnes.
The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries — many of them relating to their own personal traumas — in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.