Required Reading (June 4, 2017)

My new weekly column, Required Reading, will uncover works – in both print and online – that I think should be required reading (or at least deserving of more attention). 

If you’re anything like me, you are often overwhelmed by the amount of things to read. Not only do I have an embarrassing 800+ books on my “To-Read” shelf on Goodreads, but I am constantly squirreling away lists of articles I want to read “later.” I hoard old issues of magazines – literary and otherwise – which I’ll eventually get around to.

Well, I figure now is as good a time as any. So I’ll be working my way through all the things I have wanted to read “later” and I will recommend the ones I like the best. The lists could include everything from essays published the day yesterday to short stories from the 17th century. I don’t want to miss anything.

Which brings me to my next point: what should I be reading (non-book wise)? Send me your “Required Reading” and I’ll get to around to those too!

For my first “Required Reading” column, I have three pieces I read that I think you should too.

1. “8 Great Books by LGBTQ Authors From Places Where It’s Illegal to be Gay On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia” | By Emily Temple, LitHub (May 17, 2017)

In honor of pride month, I was seeking out some lists that delved into LGBTQ literature and came across this great list from LitHub (who always does fantastic work). I love the fact that the list highlights authors from places where being gay is illegal, where the writers could never reveal their true selves. It speaks to the courage in speaking truth and humanity to power and ignorance.

Gay people exist even if they are not able to come out, and sometimes they create wonderful art from that struggle; this list is indicative of that. It includes both known (Marlon James and Nicole Dennis-Benn) and, to me, unknown authors, which is much appreciated. Of course, this list has made me add even more books to my ever-growing To-Read list.

2. Afterlife: Writer at Work| By Jane Maher at Creative Nonfiction (Issue #59, Spring 2016)

Who knew writing about someone who writes about death could be so fun? This essay focuses on Margalit Fox, an obituary writer at The New York Times who has written over 1,200 obits, her craft, and the process of writing perhaps “the truest form” of creative non-fiction. It’s a wonderful glimpse into her everyday life and what goes into writing the defining record of a person’s life. If you love reading obituaries or are morbidly curious about the process, this piece is for you. (P.S. Pun very much intended).

3. “The Mystery of the Hardy Boys and the Invisible Authors” | Daniel A. Gross, The Atlantic (May 27, 2015)

This piece is all about the ghostwriting business and how Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Sweet Valley High not only exist, but thrive, because of it. I loved reading these types of series when I was younger – along with Nancy Drew, I was a huge fan of The Baby Sitter’s Club and The Baby Sitter’s Little Sister series. It was a very interested deep dive into the shadowy world of ghostwriting, and who wins and who loses from the anonymous business model.

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What is “Required Reading” for you? What should I absolutely read and why? Leave it in the comments and I’ll read it as soon as I can! 

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