clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Shel Silverstein’s extremely cozy houseboat is for sale

And the rest of the week’s best writing on books and related subjects.

If you buy something from a Vox link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Shel Silverstein’s Sausalito houseboat.
Dianne Andrews, Engel & Voelkers
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

Welcome to Vox’s weekly book link roundup, a curated selection of the internet’s best writing on books and related subjects.

I hope you have been able to go for plenty of walks this week. I was doing full self-isolation for a while, and even with living room yoga, I started to ache all over from not moving: Being able to go outside is so important.

And so are books! No matter what else is happening, we still have books, and an opportunity to talk about books. Here is the week’s best writing on books and related subjects for the week of April 12, 2020.

We’ve been thinking about the rise of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia in America, especially since the introduction of Covid-19, and what our role is in combating it. We believe it is everyone’s responsibility to resist anti-Asian racism whenever it arises, but beyond that, we must leave no doubt in the minds of Asian friends and family and neighbors and colleagues that we love and value them. So friends, let us address you directly, please hear us when we say: we love you, we value you, we appreciate and respect you. We are here to support you in whatever ways we can.

Part of showing our love and support means acknowledging that you are more than the work you’ve produced, but another part, which we’d like to do here, involves helping to celebrate your artistic achievements! We’re so grateful that you have shared your stories with us, and we’re excited to share this list of Own Voices fiction and poetry books by Asian writers, which are all new or forthcoming.

Rumaan Alam: What would your perfect day look like?

Maira Kalman: The perfect day of work is not working! The perfect day of work is waking up and not feeling exhausted from terrible dreams, having a cup of coffee, reading the obits, going for a walk, looking at trees …

Reading the obits?

Of course, everybody must read the obits. It sets you into a mode of, what am I really going to be doing with my life today? The stories in obits are very much about lives, not about death. So you’re looking at these heroic or interesting or absurd lives and saying, “Well, how would they write about my life if it was condensed into 10 paragraphs?”

O what an account I could give you of the Bay of Naples if I could once more feel myself a citizen of this world—I feel a spirit in my brain would lay it forth pleasantly—O what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints! My love again to Fanny—tell Tootts I wish I could pitch her a basket of grapes—and tell Sam the fellows catch here with a line a little fish much like an anchovy, pull them up fast.

The Houston Public Library told its staff that, though its branches were closed, the city remained “open for business” and they must report to work.

And so they have for several weeks, filing into the largely empty branches, where city officials say social distancing is maintained, and gloves, wipes and hand sanitizer have been made available.

Incredible, really. Or so it seemed to me as I went by and heard the thing play out. Further along there were those very small raindrops, droplets I suppose, which attach themselves with resolute but nonetheless ebullient regularity among the fronds of a beautiful type of delicate crass, appearing, for all the world, like a squandered chandelier dashing headlong down the hillside.

It’s oddly fitting that so many people are reaching for Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” in the midst of this particular crisis, not least because the novel’s opening pages are probably the most ecstatic representation of running errands in the Western canon. “What a lark! What a plunge!” Clarissa Dalloway thinks, as she embarks on her morning expedition in quest of decorations for the society party she will throw that evening. At a time when our most ordinary acts—shopping, taking a walk—have come to seem momentous, a matter of life or death, Clarissa’s vision of everyday shopping as a high-stakes adventure resonates in a peculiar way.

And here’s the week in books at Vox:

As always, you can keep up with all our books coverage by visiting Happy reading!

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.