RBR Sunday Salon
Volume 1, Issue 1
Welcome to the first edition of Roof Beam Reader’s Sunday Salon! This new weekly feature was inspired by the many “critical linking” and “weekly round-up” type posts that a number of my favorite book bloggers do so well. I’ve been weighing whether or not to jump-in with my own version of this for some time, now.
I finally made the decision to move forward after realizing that, at the end of every single week, I have something like 18 browser windows open on my phone and/or desktop, stuck on posts that I loved and want to re-read or share. So, why not create a shareable archive of my own, where everyone gets the benefit of what I think constitutes “good and important reading,” and where I can find again in some easy, logically organized way?
As you’ll see, I have a number of genres/categories, each with a few favorite links from things I read in that category during the current week (they might have been published earlier, but I only just got around to reading them myself during the current week.) I hope you enjoy some of these as much as I did!
Blog Posts I Loved
- On Bookes: “The Birthday of the Infanta by Oscar Wilde.” . . . I began to really appreciate what a powerful writer he was. That, I believe, is confirmed in his short stories: there is great beauty, darkness, and melancholy in his stories that never fails to leave an impression.
- The Book Binder’s Daughter: “The Worst Kind of Irreligion: George Eliot on the Reception of Daniel Deronda.” In a letter dated the 29th of October, 1876, she describes . . . her surprise that Daniel Deronda has not met with more resistance because of its Jewish subject matter. She describes the shameful racism and bigotry she witnesses among her own class…
- The Misfortune of Knowing: “We March(ed).” With every attempt to suppress voters, every reiteration of Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban, every mean-spirited version of TrumpCare, every attempt to strip our right to enforce civil rights laws through litigation, and every roll back of our environmental protection policies, my disdain for Donald Trump and the GOP at every level of government intensifies.
Noteworthy Literary News
- JSTOR Daily: “When Harriet Beecher Stowe and George Eliot Were Penpals.” On April 15th, 1869, the famous American novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a letter from her home in Mandarin, Florida, to the famous British novelist George Eliot. Thus began a long, fascinating, passionate, epistolary friendship between these two very different writers.
- BBC: “The 100 Stories that Shaped the World.” In April, BBC Culture polled experts around the world to nominate up to five fictional stories they felt had shaped mindsets or influenced history. We received answers from 108 authors, academics, journalists, critics and translators in 35 countries…
- Literary Hub: “25 Nonfiction Books for Anger and Action.” For those looking to channel their fear and grief into anger and action, here are 25 books which help illustrate exactly what’s at stake under the new administration and demystify how you can—and why you should—resist.
History and Politics
- The Stranger: “The Green Party, Ladies and Gentlemen.” There are lots of examples out there of Republicans running as Greens or recruiting homeless people to run as Greens or financing the campaigns of Green Party candidates at the local and national level. Republicans donate to Greens, Republicans run as Greens, and useful-to-the-GOP idiots vote for Greens.
- BBC: “Forbidden Love: The WW2 Letters Between Two Men.” While on military training during World War Two, Gilbert Bradley was in love. He exchanged hundreds of letters with his sweetheart – who merely signed with the initial “G”. But more than 70 years later, it was discovered that G stood for Gordon, and Gilbert had been in love with a man.
Culture and Society
- The New Yorker: “A Hollywood Hedonist turns Ninety-Five.” Scotty Bowers is one of the dirtiest nonagenarians you’re likely to come across. He’s also a Hollywood legend of sorts.
- Conde Nast Traveler: “14 Best Coffee Shops in Chicago.” Chicago takes its coffee seriously. With independent roasters and cafes as numerous in certain neighborhoods as bars.
- The New Yorker: “The Many Lives of Pauli Murray.” A poet, writer, activist, labor organizer, legal theorist, and Episcopal priest, Murray palled around in her youth with Langston Hughes, joined James Baldwin at the MacDowell Colony the first year it admitted African-Americans, maintained a twenty-three-year friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, and helped Betty Friedan found the National Organization for Women.
- The New Yorker: “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.” Coming from a group of academics in the nineteen-seventies, the contention that people can’t think straight was shocking. It isn’t any longer. Thousands of subsequent experiments have confirmed (and elaborated on) this finding.
Essays and Articles on Writing
- Medium: “Hello, Go Away.” Writers bravely put their work out into the world and someone who supposedly knows the industry is saying, “I don’t want it.” But undesirable though the message may be, isn’t a direct response better than silence?
- The Rumpus: “Why Writing Matters in the Age of Despair.” That was the narrative we spun about who we were. It was a better story than the one we were actually living. It turns out you can live in a fiction for a long time. For a lifetime, perhaps, but my limit was twelve years.
Posts from Roof Beam Reader
- “Joansing for Didion.” Reading Joan Didion is like reading the 4th of July. It is fireworks in my brain and sitting down with an old friend to chat about and think about everything and nothing, and leaving exhausted by the pure and exhilarating experience of being together again.
- “Considering the Secret of Northanger Abbey.” Neill refers to each character individually, pointing out their less admirable traits, without paying much attention to what positivity or sensibility the characters might actually bring to the story.
- “Prompt: The Sound of Your Language – Be Gorgeous.” The exercise in general was enjoyable. It reminds me of reading like a writer. The sound and rhythm are important…
- Good Without God by Greg M. Epstein
- Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips
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