Recommended reading

I do read other things besides books. Here's a bit of what I've been reading lately, some of which you might find interesting.

  • Philip Roth announced his retirement from writing in 2012. He was near 80 at the time. Six years later he has stuck to his retirement pledge, but that doesn't mean he's stopped observing with the eyes of a writer or that he's quit having opinions about what's happening. He shared some of his thoughts with The New York Times.
  • More from The Times: I always look forward to Gail Collins' columns, at least partly because she usually manages to find some humor in things even at the darkest times. In a column this past weekend, she argued that even though Hillary Clinton lost, the future is hers: "It’s 2018, a big election year, and women are going to be running everywhere. We’re sort of astonished by the numbers, but not by their ambition. They’ll be elected to city councils, state legislatures and Congress and hardly anyone will give their gender a second thought. That’s Hillary’s gift."
  • Margaret Atwood is always worth listening to and it seems that she's never been more popular, what with the successful adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale for television and now Alias Grace as well. To The Guardian, she denied that 2017 was her fault and says, "I am not a prophet. Science fiction is really about now."
  • Texas saw its maternal mortality rate more than double between 2010 and 2014, as the state closed more than half of its abortion clinics and severely cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Thanks to Texas and a few other states with strong “pro-life” lobbies, mostly in the South, the US now bears the ghastly distinction of having the highest maternal mortality rate of all the world’s wealthy democracies. Barbara Ehrenreich argues that those who claim the mantle of pro-life are actually pro-death.
  • Zadie Smith has a lot of fans and some of them are famous. She answered questions from some of them, as well as some unfamous people, for The Guardian.  
  • Here's a mind-numbing but mesmerizing read. Once I started, I found I had to go straight through to the end, but I warn you it is appalling and you need a strong stomach. 
  • If you feel the need of a rinse-off after that, Jill Abramson tells us that even after the year we've just been through, there is still hope amid the horror
  • Finally, Elena Ferrante has started writing a weekly column for The Guardian and her first column is about first love.
Since I have given up broadcast news because of its vacuousness, I find that I spend a lot more time reading in order to keep up with what's going on in the world and that the world is a more interesting place. 


  1. I have been reading much more of the news and political turmoil in the last year, too. My husband and I comment often how TV news, especially our local news, has become more about soundbites than anything very substantial.

    1. I grew completely disgusted with TV (and to a lesser extent radio) news during the 2016 presidential campaign. Their "news" essentially consisted of "all Trump all the time." The day of the election, I turned it all off and I haven't turned it back on.

  2. Thank you for the round up. Yesterday I started reading a 1963 publication entitled The Presidential Papers by Norman Mailer. It is a collection of pieces he wrote during the campaign, election cycle and inauguration of JFK. He could be an annoying person so I hear, but what a writer, what a cogent thinker. He writes about the factors that in hindsight, one can see led us to this moment. Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, and others you have mentioned have taken up that mantle. Thank goodness.

    1. I'm always interested to read what writers that I admire have to say about current affairs, even if I don't agree with them.

  3. It's good that you are reading other things besides books. I spent a whole year hardly watching broadcasting news at all because the coverage of Trump's presidency is not only overwhelming in terms of who said what/who did what, but it is also massively skewered. If it were more balanced I may return to watching, but it is all about negativity when for the first time in a reaaally long time the economy is painting another picture. I'm not a Trumpist at any rate, but the media coverage of his first year in office has exploited the public resentment rather than providing a more balanced depiction of what has or hasn't been accomplished thus far.

    1. It's interesting that you feel "for the first time in a reaaally long time the economy is painting another picture." A lot of Trump supporters would probably agree enthusiastically with that statement.


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