“It was just one small sign in a bustling city. But it was a sign, nevertheless, that Florence has not forgotten the Brownings after all.” In the New York Times, novelist Ann Mah explored Florence looking for signs of the literary couple who called it home for many years: Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. From our archives: a more sober look at the famed city.
“I can read whatever I want. No one can stop me. I can help other people read what they want. And no one can stop them.” Zoe Fisher for The Rumpus about being “a horny queer teenager” who found her home in libraries. Pair with a controversial piece from our own pages this week by Douglas Koziol, a bookseller exploring what to do with “a book that you not only find objectionable but also believe actually dangerous in the lessons it portends amidst such a politically precarious time?”
In his recent collection of poetry, The Americans, David Roderick examines the spaces in which Americans make their homes, calling on his readers to view them in the context of American history. At The Rumpus, Brian Simoneau reviews the collection, which he says illuminates some of his own odd feelings about moving from Boston to Connecticut.
Recommended reading: elderly sisters contend with the youngest dying, in a quietly wry new story by Allegra Goodman at the New Yorker. “She pretended to sleep, and then she really did drop off. When she woke, her sisters were hovering over her. Some of us have overstayed our welcome, Jeanne thought. And then, with sudden shock, No: I’m the one. That would be me.”
The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. “Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists.” Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.
Recommended Reading: Bailey Lewis’s short story at Paper Darts “When the South Wind Blows Glass Shatters and Disappears Like Rain.” “A young girl’s body hurtles through a stationery store window at top speed.”