Welcome to Vox’s weekly book link roundup, a curated selection of the internet’s best writing on books and related subjects. Here’s the best the web has to offer for the week of August 19, 2018.
- Cody Wilson has been evangelizing for 3D printed guns, arguing that they should remain unregulated as a free speech right. Amazon just took down the book where he explains what code to use to print your own. Forbes has the story.
- Amazon has also enlisted a small army of warehouse workers to respond to any criticisms of the company’s labor practices on social media. Reassuring, or creepy and dystopian? Your call.
- At the existentialist advice column Ask Polly, Heather Havrilesky takes on the question of how to write a book while you have a day job:
So my best advice about writing a book is this: Learn to savor the work itself. Authors talk about what torture it is to write, to finish a book, to get revisions. And it can be torture! But it’s a luxury to write, a luxury you have to train yourself to savor. There’s no fucking reason to do it if you can’t savor it. And not only is it harder to finish creative work when you view it as a means to an end — a path to a shinier, more important life — but looking at it that way keeps you in the mind-set of a loser with a big question mark painted on her forehead. Once you’re published, you think the question mark will be removed. But, SURPRISE! It’s still there.
- At Electric Lit, Rachel Klein writes about how reading Jane Eyre helped lead her out of Orthodox Judaism:
What I had found in religion was something I would only be able to put words to later, when Charlotte Bronte would name it for me: “A new servitude.” It wasn’t God I was serving, but order, boundaries, the rules I felt would keep me and my body safe from those who, due to animal desire and lack of self-control, would seek to harm it. I knew somehow, innately, that the kind of freedom I truly desired was much more hard-fought and hard-won than the one I’d sought in the rules and restrictions of yet another constructed paradigm.
- At Atlas Obscura, Anika Burgess explains the hidden meanings behind medieval bestiaries:
The fox was commonly portrayed as untrustworthy, and ensnared birds the way the devil traps sinners. The panther symbolized Christ, with the ultimate serpent—the dragon—as the devil. The life-giving lion was, of course, related to the resurrection.
- In the New Yorker, Joan Acocella celebrates the legacy of Little Women:
Simone de Beauvoir, as a child, used to make up “Little Women” games that she played with her sister. Beauvoir always took the role of Jo. “I was able to tell myself that I too was like her,” she recalled. “I too would be superior and find my place.” Susan Sontag, in an interview, said she would never have become a writer without the example of Jo March. Ursula Le Guin said that Alcott’s Jo, “as close as a sister and as common as grass,” made writing seem like something even a girl could do.
- At the Atlantic, Laura R. Micciche delves into the history of portable technologies beloved by writers:
Writing boxes had an effect a lot like that of today’s electronic devices: They created an aura around writing, investing tools with an energy and power that enabled writers to gain pleasure from writing—or from the idea of writing, which might be equally gratifying.
- At Rolling Stone, Anna Merlan reads her way through some of this summer’s crop of right-wing conspiracy theory best-sellers:
There are yet more Deep State books to come, a continued low, rageful howl of victimhood that should carry right through the midterms and deep into 2020. This flurry of post-factual books printed to protect a corrupt presidency is not only a bizarre social phenomenon — the most powerful person in the world doesn’t usually need quite this much defending — but a particularly profitable one. Jarrett’s book has topped Amazon’s best-seller list since it came out; his publisher is HarperCollins, under its conservative imprint, Broadside Books, which allows a major publisher to make money from right-wing conspiracy theories while respectably siloing it at a safe-enough distance. Pirro got the same treatment from her publisher Hachette; her imprint is Center Street, and her book, too, is on the New York Times best-seller list: they are in fact numbers one and two right now.
Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the week in books at Vox:
- How whimsical/horrifying! Here’s a book of clown faces painted onto eggs.
- In the new novel Severance, the apocalypse looks a lot like another day at the office
- The Hugo Awards just made history, and defied alt-right extremists in the process
- How to get a good night’s sleep
As always, you can keep up with Vox’s book coverage by visiting vox.com/books. Happy reading!