Things to Read


For the website Shepherd, I recently wrote a piece highlighting five books that had influenced me when I was working on Gradual.  (Aubrey Fox did a companion piece, which can be found here.)  It was a fun assignment because it offered a chance to tip my cap to some of the writers who have helped to inspire me. We listed a bunch of them in the Acknowledgments section of the book, but maybe I will also try to use this space to highlight them in the days ahead.  For now, here are a few recent clips from writers that I like:

Partisanship & Denial by William Deresiewicz (Salmagundi) -- "If you say the other side is worse, you let yours off the hook. And we have to stop letting ourselves off the hook: not despite the fact that the other side is worse, but precisely because of it. The other side is terrible, is evil, and that is why we have to win. But you do not win by ignoring reality."

I Don't Want to Smell You Get High by Thomas Chatterton Williams (The Atlantic) -- "In the absence of wider unspoken controls, the anything-goes mentality flirts with pandemonium."

It Only Counts When It Hurts by Freddie deBoer (Substack) -- "I’m not asking for people to be rounded up. I’m not calling for more police. I’m not asking you to abandon compassion, but to do the exact opposite - to have compassion for people as they really are. And some people are really badly broken, in a way that makes them dangerous and antisocial."

How Women Colonised Yoga by Kat Rosenfield (Unherd) -- "The gender trajectory of yoga is a complicated one, a winding journey through a decades-long miasma of gender stereotypes, fitness fads and shifting, sex-specific beauty standards about what constitutes an ideal physique."

Plus here's one more that I recently read that struck a chord with me.  I haven't read anything by Max Ridge before, but his recent piece for Dissent -- The Language of Democracy -- is a compelling argument on behalf of the importance of plainspeaking, using Christopher Lasch's writing guide, Plain Style, as a foundation.  Anyone who is interested in effective communication should check it out. 

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