Welcome to the Vox weekly book link roundup, a curated selection of the best writing online about books and related topics. Here’s the best the internet has to offer for the week of July 30, 2017.
- Did you read Animorphs? The books were all the rage at my elementary school, but I deemed them “boy books” and would not pick them up. (My elementary school self had some Problematic views.) At Avidly, Cassius Adair remembers reading Animorphs as a trans kid:
When I meet trans people for the first time, especially in mixed company, I’ll sometimes try out this line where I mention Animorphs offhand, as if I don’t take it seriously, as if I didn’t spend the majority of my first puberty wishing that I were turning into a bird or a tiger instead of into a young woman. More often than not, trans folks will say something to me like, “Oh my god, right? Tobias was totally trans!” Cisgender people will usually take this as their cue to get another drink.
- Romance novels are some of the most consistent sellers in publishing, which means romance novelists have to hustle: Authors at the top of the field are expected to produce multiple books a year. Quartz talked with two of them about how they stay so productive:
H.M. Ward, a self-published romance author who’s sold 13 million books, says she writes two hours a day, averaging about 2,500 words an hour. (For context, that’s two of these articles in the time it takes to eat lunch.) “Phone is set to silent. Stop watch is timing me. Door to office is shut,” she writes in an email.
- As part of its “dystopia week,” Vulture has created a comprehensive list of 100 different imagined future societies ...
- ... and the site talked to science fiction writer William Gibson about the current craze for dystopias:
Q: Why do you think we, as a culture, are so endlessly obsessed with stories about last-ditch attempts to stave off the end of the world?
A: The end of the world is universal shorthand for whatever we don’t want to happen. We have very little control over anything much at all, individually, so fantasies of staving off the end of the world are fairly benign fantasies of increased agency.
- E.B. White’s old farm is for sale. Listen, it’s only going for $3.7 million, so if we all chip in, I really don’t think the per-person cost will be that bad.
- Open Culture is teaching us all about Jacobean traveling libraries, which it describes as “a big book, which itself holds 50 smaller books.” Sold.
- PBS is starting a new documentary series about America’s best-loved books. The winner will almost certainly be a book that everyone read in the eighth grade (probably To Kill a Mockingbird, but there’s a chance The Great Gatsby could be the dark horse), and I will almost certainly watch every episode.
- At LitHub, R.O. Kwon is reading books by furious women:
I ask friends what books they’ve read that spotlight furious women. I’m talking Medea-level wrath, I explain. Like Ferrante’s writing at its raging best. In addition, I want the books to be written by women. I believe, I do, in writers’ ability to invent humans unlike them, but this time I’m craving the real thing, hits of firsthand rage.
With my first book, I was talking about various phases in my life, and I ended one of those little chapters with the line, "I licked the platter clean." Now, that was my era; that was the kind of thing you would have said. It came straight from my mouth. And my editor had put his line through it, he'd slashed it. So, when I sent it to the copy editor after looking at it, I just wrote "stet," and it was stetted. Sometimes, you just know that's better than argument.