Recent reads (& Friday links)


We’ve been trying to figure out the best way to choose the books in our bookclub. For a while we switched to a Survey Monkey list, where everyone ranked their picks and an algorithm chose the winner. We were surprised to find that no one liked this as much as letting each month’s host choose the next month’s book (with input from everyone, of course). We were trying to understand why this seemed to work better. For one, it seemed to ensure a wider range of book types—from page-turning thrillers and funny memoirs, to serious dramas and provocative nonfiction. Another theory is that by choosing books with online votes, we weren’t discussing the options and sharing the reasons why the book might be the right choice. It like going to a movie without having seen any previews.

Whatever the reason, we’re back to a more subjective method of choosing and first up, in January, is Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth. Have you read it? It takes place over a span of 50 years and the New York Times called it “rich and engrossing.” I really enjoyed her earlier books, Bel Canto and State of Wonder. Patchett is a beautiful writer. Other books floated for the next few months were Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award Winner The Underground Railroad (I loved his John Henry Days and can’t wait to read this), and You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein, the head writer on Amy Schumer’s show. I heard her interviewed by Terri Gross and immediately wanted to spend more time with her. I’d also like to read The Association of Small Bombs

What else should we add to the list this for consideration? My favorites from last year were All the Light We Cannot See, People of the Book, and Modern RomanceAlthough it was our discussion of Between the World and Me that was most impactful.

I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading lately!

Here are some links of note from around the web, for something a bit more brief in the meantime… 

Kottke put together a post with a ton of those “best books of 2016” lists that are circulating out there.

Are you done holiday shopping? You’d think I’d be. My four lists ran weeks ago: For Her, For Him, For the Kiddo, and For Everyone Else.

One of my favorites I’ve seen since is this, a guide to charitable giving. Thank you, Erin!

“Providing nurturing conditions and trusting children’s natural inclination to engage their minds is far more likely to produce independent, competent children, full of ideas.” The case for boredom. (Via Cup of Jo)

And the case for messes. 

The most popular TED talks of 2016. I meant to but never read The Year of Yes, so I’d like to listen to that one.

Behind the scenes on photographing a cookbook.

One day I’d like to visit Portugal. Starting with here.

#WhatIfItWereHRC. (Aron’s new hashtag. I was shocked it hadn’t been used before.)

It was disturbing to me as well that my first thought upon seeing this was about organizing.

Yet more heartbreaking news out of Aleppo as civilians continue to flee.

If you need a primer on what’s happening on Aleppo. (Also, more relevant than ever, Russia’s involvement).

And what can be done to help.

Hard-hitting satire shared yesterday, in the wake of the Sandy Hook anniversary.

Just so I don’t leave you mixing a molotov cocktail for yourself, something a bit more fun.

And finally, a question for you: I’ve been thinking about cutting back on the number of posts I share each week in the New Year. How do you follow the blog? Is it best to announce new posts on Instagram? Do you follow me there?

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