It’s that time again. Out come the bathing suits, floppy hats, and…beach-focused marketing campaigns? For Vulture, Allison Duncan dissects the category of the “beach read,” noting that the typical beach read is written by a woman, and is probably not about the Byzantine Empire—unless that’s what you’re into? “If historical nonfiction has a place in your beach bag,” Duncan writes, “then it’s a beach read.” For the most part, of course, “the best beach reads go down like Hallmark holiday movies—and I mean that in the best possible way.” The beach read, it turns out, contains multitudes.
Last Friday marked the feast day of Francis de Sales, better known as the patron saint of writers and journalists. The saint, who lived in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, got his title thanks to his propensity for using flyers and pamphlets to convert people to Catholicism. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring reads the saint’s most famous work, Introduction to the Devout Life.
When our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait, he wrote that the book compels you to keep reading because “the more Levé says, the more facts he sets down, the more you realize he hasn’t said.” But what if at the end, you’re meant to reread the book, too? Over at Words Without Borders, Jan Steyn says “the only way to get a better idea of how [these sentences] fit together is to keep reading, and reading, until the end, and then perhaps to read the book again.”
Edith Pearlman has been writing stories for a long time, but it’s only recently that she’s received widespread attention for them, as evidenced by this New Yorker piece on the author by James Wood. In it, Wood writes about the ways in which Pearlman is “a fabulist in realist’s clothing,” among other things. Pair with: Josh Cook on Pearlman’s book Honeydew.
“What does each president’s fitness for parenthood reveal about his fitness to run our country?” Daniel Jones reviews First Dads by Joshua Kendall, which takes an inside look at the fathers of our nation. You could also check out our own Janet Potter’s project to read a biography of every sitting president.
“I had invented a writing table out of a wheelbarrow in the coal bunker, just beyond a wall from where a dynamo ran. It made a deep, constant humming noise. There was no more work to do until about 4 a.m., when we would have to clean the fires and get up steam again.” The University of Mississippi power plant where William Faulkner wrote his self-styled “tour-de-force” As I Lay Dying is slated to be demolished. Here’s a nice, complementary piece on slowing down to read Faulkner.