Tagged: Nonfiction

things I’ve read lately, vol. 3

I’ve got a real backlog of magazines on my end table, and yet I just can’t stop reading. Here are 12 things I read and loved (or at least couldn’t stop thinking about) this past month. (See the previous things I’ve read here.)

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things i’ve read lately, vol. 2

be forewarned: a lot of these are #longreads. a lot of the links in this edition are amazing older articles that i recently found or revisited.

notable recent reads

Long time no blog, right? But I’m back with three recently read, utterly awesome books, all written by women with three names:

Adrian Nicole Leblanc, “Random Family”
Leblanc spent a decade hanging out with a random family from the Bronx, then she wrote this book. I’d read an interview with her in New New Journalism but just now read this book, which is just an amazing piece of creative nonfiction. It’s something like 500 pages, but I couldn’t put it down. I read some criticism of the book that took her nonjudgmental approach to reporting the story as her supporting the decisions the protagonists made, which weren’t always the hottest decisions. But I thought the dispassionate approach to writing the story kept it the protagonists’ story — would you let somebody judging you follow you around for 10 years? Probably not.

Ellen Ruppel Shell, “Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture”
If you have any interest in sustainability, business ethics or human rights, you have to read this book. It opened my eyes to a lot of the assumptions we make about things we buy, why we react the way we do to low prices, and why handmade is more important than ever.

Esther Pearl Watson, “Unlovable, Vol. 2”
Possibly even better than the first Unlovable comic collection!

Lotsa good books getting read in 2010… with the way I’m hitting the nonfiction so hard, I might not make it to 50, but I’ll keep trying.

Graydon Carter, George Kalogerakis and Kurt Andersen, “SPY: The Funny Years”

I found an old issue of this acerbic, New York-centric magazine for a dollar and fell in love with it. Got a good deal on this hardcover from Copacetic Comics in Pittsburgh!

THE LOWDOWN
Published: 2006, 304 pp.
Obtained via: Copacetic
Date started: 2.10.09
Date finished: 2.30.09

What I liked: The mid-’80s seem like such a heady time to start a magazine. The economy was good, and the technology was laughably low-tech. The founding editors, Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen, are recognizable names now—Carter’s the editor of Vanity Fair, and Andersen is a novelist and the host of Studio 360. It seems like everybody who got in on the ground floor at SPY went on to do great things. Sounds like heaven.
I also loved the page scans of notorious articles, and the pranks the staff would pull using only a fax machine and moxie.
What I didn’t like: Once I finished reading, I remembered how dismal the current magazine industry is. Around 1993, the original staff had fled, and the last few years of the magazine were decidedly less funny, hence the title.
What I learned: Staying true to your ideals works for a while. But when the ride’s over, it doesn’t mean you stop moving.

book update

Current word count: 9,400 (out of 30,000)

I’m not as far along as I’d like to be, but I’m making progress. I’d hoped to hit 15,000 words by the end of October… that’d take a miracle at this point, I think.

But really, I’m not terribly behind. I’ve started interviewing a ton of awesome crafters, but I’ve integrated relatively little of their information into the book. So once I start doing that, it’ll write itself. (Or so I keep telling myself.)

In any case, I’m almost a third of the way there with about four months to go.

The title meeting for my book was the week before last, but so far there’s still no final decision. I pitched a few ideas, as did my editor, but there are many more people in on the discussion—the publisher, salespeople, marketing managers. I hope there’s a decision soon… I think the book will start feeling more real when there’s a title attached.

I’m writing a book

I very vaguely alluded to a big potential project in my last post of 2007. That project is now very real, so I feel OK with letting the cat out of the bag: I’m writing a book. Got a deal and everything. (Though deal is a kind of misleading word—it implies six-figure advances and major publicity campaigns, neither of which I have.)

The book—as of yet untitled—is a how-to business book for indie crafters. My final manuscript is due in February, and the book will be on shelves in fall 2009, if all goes according to plan. I’m still going to write my little capsule book reviews here in this blog, but I’m also going to use it to keep track of my writing progress. Like so:

Current word count: 6,793 (out of 30,000)

And I have stories to tell about the wild world of book publishing. I might create an FAQ. The most FAQ has to be whether I get to pick the title of the book. I don’t—that’s a decision left up to the publisher, with the input of my editor and the marketing/sales folks. The more you know!

So, that’s why I’ve totally dropped the killer reading pace I had earlier this year. It’s an exciting project, but dang, is it a lot of work.

If you have any questions, post a comment!