Wednesday, July 17, 2024

FOR TEN YEARS or more, my weekday alarm is set for 6:23. I get moving, meditate like I have for 40-some years, text a Cleveland friend to let him know I’m still alive. C-SPAN at 7:00 on my phone like radio. Make the bed. Exercise briefly with some light weights. Make sure the lights are off and the refrigerator door is closed, and head out. I love the routine. 

Friday, July 12, 2024

The best recent poetry – review roundup

Fierce Elegy by Peter Gizzi; Adam by Gboyega Odubanjo; Bark, Archive, Splinter by Jay Gao; Polkadot Wounds by Anthony Vahni Capildeo; Goodlord by Ella Frears; Skeletons by Deborah Landau

Sunday, July 7, 2024


Beach Reads

We spent a sweltering summer Saturday at Jacob Riis Park to get some bookshelf inspiration



York’ Magazine)

Friday, July 5, 2024


Garth Risk Hallberg: ‘David Foster Wallace convinced me to change the way I was living’

The American author on how Infinite Jest made him face up to his substance abuse, and the joy of Judy Blume

Monday, July 1, 2024

I’M GOING to put this in my bag this morning when I go downtown with the sign. I’m going to read it on the subway again a little each day for the third time.

Saturday, June 29, 2024


These classic ’60s books shout from the shelves to be read again

Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Harper Lee and others asked provocative, brave questions about many of the same urgent issues we face today.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Friday, June 21, 2024

Meet the people behind three of the UK’s brilliant independent bookshops

Rebuilding from a fire, competing with Amazon and launching during lockdown – how these indies continue to thrive

Sunday, June 16, 2024


‘I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.’

 ~Joan Didion

Friday, June 14, 2024

I JUST READ THIS TWICE IN A FEW MONTHS. I read it on the subway only, on the way with my sign in the morning. I keep it in the old Patagonia bag I take with me. So it was slow going, a couple pages a day. The train trip is short and I usually stand on the more-crowded return train. ANYWAY, it’s quite a book. Won the Pulitzer Prize. I may read it again. A memoir. A Taiwanese-American student at Berkeley. Why would I read it twice and maybe/probably again? An honest-seeming voice, good details. Very good details. A real life. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024


Nell Irvin Painter’s understanding of America is beautiful and bracing. 

We should listen.
“I Just Keep Talking” brings together wide-ranging and pointed essays by the author of “The History of White People.”

Monday, June 10, 2024


THE SIGN is by the door ready for 7:40 in the morning when I take it with me to the subway downtown. Many of the same people see me every weekday when I hold the sign on Chambers Street. Some give a thumbs-up every time. A bright-faced Latino young woman folds her hands prayerfully and moves her mouth shyly without making any sound and says, Thank You. Sometimes I say to her, sometimes I say it to others:  It Would Change the World.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024


States begin to push back on book bans – by banning them

2:14 PM EDT June 4, 2024

As a record number of school districts face bans on certain books and lawmakers enact measures that limit what can be taught about race and sexual identity in the classroom, some states are moving to counter the measures with laws that prohibit banning books.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Where to start with: Rachel Cusk

From a novel sequence that dispenses with much of what we expect from fiction to fearlessly honest memoirs of motherhood and divorce, Cusk is a challenging writer. But also a genius

Friday, May 31, 2024

After Words (from C-SPAN, a video conversation)

Mike Hixenbaugh

NBC investigative reporter Mike Hixenbaugh looked at how issues around race and identity are playing out in school districts around the country. He was interviewed by Chalkbeat story editor and author Cara Fitzpatrick.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Monday, May 27, 2024

‘My mother used to color in all the characters in my picture books brown, with a brown magic marker. So, when I read The Little Prince, he had the same complexion as me because of her loving hand.’

-Lynn Nottage

Sunday, May 26, 2024


The lasting impact of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A’

Steven Hyden’s “There Was Nothing You Could Do” explores the blockbuster album, which turns 40 next month.

Friday, May 24, 2024

In Honor of Duke Ellington: Here Are 15 Great Books About Jazz

Ed Simon Recommends Langston Hughes, Dorothy Baker, Geoff Dyer, and More

Thursday, May 23, 2024


A memoir by Nicholas Kristof and a biography of Barbara Walters invoke halcyon days in the news business. What can we learn from their lives?

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck wins International Booker prize 

Erpenbeck is the first German writer and Michael Hofmann the first male translator to win the £50,000 prize for novel which tells

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Wednesday, May 15, 2024



Working with the author, who has died, at ninety-two, was both a thrill and a lesson in intentionality

Monday, May 13, 2024


Rebecca F Kuang: ‘I like to write to my friends in the style of Joan Didion’

The author of bestseller Yellowface on her agent’s fears about publishing the novel, the joys of a social media purge and being a workaholic who gets bored easily

Friday, May 10, 2024


Paul Auster, American author of The New York Trilogy, dies aged 77

The writer of The New York Trilogy, Leviathan and 4 3 2 1 – known for his stylised postmodernist fiction – has died from complications of lung cancer

Here, contemporaries pay tribute to his life and work:

Thursday, May 9, 2024


Two Poems, four years in 

detention: the Chinese dissident 

who smuggled his writing out of prison

My poems were written in anger after Tiananmen Square. But what motivates most prison writing is a fear of forgetting. Today I am free, but the regime has never stopped its war on words


Wednesday, May 8, 2024


In Praise of Pulitzer Prize-Winner Jayne Anne Phillips

Jonathan Corcoran on the Teacher Who Taught Him That Writing Begins Far From the Page

Tuesday, May 7, 2024


UK audiobook downloads up 17% last year, Publishers Association data shows

Audiobooks are fast becoming ‘a major route to market for consumers of books’, the trade body says

Sunday, May 5, 2024


‘I can say things other people are afraid to’: Margaret Atwood on censorship, literary feuds and Trump

At 84, The Handmaid’s Tale author is as outspoken as ever. She talks about aging, culture wars - and why “the orange guy” can’t be allowed back into the White House