A look back at our Read Like an Artist book club picks
I just started a wild 1889 novel called THREE MEN IN A BOAT — it felt like it could've been written yesterday because the first few pages are about how whenever he reads the symptoms of a disease he decides "I have that" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Men_in_a_Boat
I also just started Iain McGilchrist’s THE MATTER WITH THINGS. It's massive, probably 1400 pages and will take me all summer. But I loved THE MASTER AND HIS EMISSARY and McGilchrist writes so clearly, I'm strapped in: https://channelmcgilchrist.com/the-matter-with-things/
I'm off to the bookstore today to pick up two books:
Dan Chaon's new novel: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250175229/sleepwalk
and Jody Rosen's new book about bicycles: https://www.jody-rosen.com/two-wheels-good
Thank you for doing all that you do Austin! Each newsletter continues to bring me joy.
My office is across the street from the downtown library which is a total bonus for not working from home. Just checked and Arbitrary Stupid Goal is in the stacks. I'm definitely picking this up because I sometimes think half of my to do list is just that. An ASG. Going to the library is never an ASG.
I really enjoyed reading Phosphorescence by Julia Baird recently. It left me with plenty to ponder and think about. Painting Happiness by Terry Runyan is a book I am looking forward to diving into to get me painting alongside my 8 and 6 year olds. It’s a great book. Just listened to Jennifer Grey’s autobiography and loved it! Also I re-read Keep Going and kickstarted my blog and did my first collage for ages after I finished reading - thank you for the wise words Austin!
Hey, Austin 👋 Thanks for the book club picks. You helped kick off another great reading phase of my life. Thanks to you, I found The Art of Noticing, Understanding Comics, and my new all-time favorite book What It Is. Like you mentioned feeling with other books, I keep reading it and saying out loud, you can do that in a book?! It's magical ✨
Have you read Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement? I found it on the curated picks table at my local bookstore. I devoured it in two reads. https://bookshop.org/books/prayers-for-the-stolen-9780804138802/9780804138802
Cheers, friend! Here's to more books and less BS.
Best — Jaycee
A Most Remarkable Creature, by Jonathan Meiburg
The remarkable creature is the caracara, and, while the book is certainly about this truly remarkable bird, it is also about much, much more. A Dallas Morning News reviewer wrote, “Calling this a bird book is like calling Moby-Dick a whaling manual.” And I very much agree with this comment in a Texas Monthly review by Brian C. Parker: “With striking prose and talon-sharp wit, the book delivers on [Meiburg’s] lofty ambitions. After reading it, I found myself looking at birds differently, as well as the world at large and humans’ relationship to it.” The author is a member of the band Shearwater, which is about to release its first album in six years. Strong local connections for this book.
The following podcast is, I think, a great introduction to the book and its author:
Range is one of my favorite books from the last few years. I picked up Tim Kreider's book but have yet to read it. I feel like I NEED to read Oliver Burkeman's book. I subscribed to his newsletter and have read several of his columns, so I know I will love it.
I'm currently reading a book you referenced in last week's email, Austin: Maps of the Imagination by Peter Turchi. I just read the first chapter yesterday and it seems like it will be a really cool read. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on it.
For fiction, I'm reading Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, about a teenage girl whose family runs a declining gator wrestling park on an island off Florida. I read Orange World, a book of short stories by Russell, and fell in love with her writing style. So now I'm working through her older work.
Austin, I started reading this yesterday and it strikes me as something you would really enjoy: NASTY, BRUTISH, AND SHORT: ADVENTURES IN PHILOSOPHY WITH MY KIDS by Scott Hershovitz. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/639701/nasty-brutish-and-short-by-scott-hershovitz/
I wanted to share with you all- I have just started re-reading Allan Shepherds Curious incidents in the Garden at Night Time. It was written in 2005 when awareness about climate change was just beginning to be mainstream. Beautiful and poignant reading.
Such a great list, already bought Understanding Comics and Four Thousand Weeks and can’t wait to read. Recently, I read Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility and was absolutely blown away. I know you’ve read Station Eleven (which I haven’t yet) but if you haven’t checked out Tranquility yet I highly recommend it. It’s a perfect short read with an intricately structured narrative and some fantastic characters. I just love how she writes and experiments on the page. Plus, both the US and UK covers are gorgeous. Thank you for all the other new recs!
I’m reading the Annotated Mrs Dalloway, and the annotations really help me see the times and circumstances that Virginia Woolf was living in and writing of. I had just finished reading the non-annotated version so this is a great follow-up.
Currently reading THE CANDY HOUSE by Jennifer Egan and am loving it. Very smart commentary on our internet world, weird and realistic characters. Also I have to mention again PURE COLOUR by Sheila Heti. I’ve become quite the fan girl for her work. Also read Louise Erdrich THE SENTENCE—a book for our time. Wanted to love it more then I did but 🤷♀️
I own (and love!) several of these, but it makes me especially happy to see Hold Still on here!! As a photographer who loves to write myself, Sally Mann has been a tremendous influence on me. It always makes me so happy when this book gets noticed outside of photography circles. ❤️
Dear Austin, I was not part of the book club but investigated some of the titles this past year (I am not much of a joiner). But I am a grateful devotee of your Friday Newsletter, and a subscriber. Thank you, thank you, thank you for introducing me to Lynda Barry and Scott McCloud. Looking forward to whatever your next book might be.
Looking forward to reading whatever you write with the time you gain! I'm currently reading Emma Bull's War for the Oaks, a 1986? novel about a rock musician in Minneapolis who becomes entangled in a war between two factions of Faerie. I love stories like this that play with cruel fey and glam rock. I learned about it after finding the "woodland goth" aesthetic on the Aesthetics wiki (I'm very interested in modern cultural aesthetics, like cottagecore and dark academia, as a phenomenon). Woodland goth is exactly the vibe I've had since my 80s childhood: "a hybrid of fey imagery, Glam Rock glitter, and the lighter side of 80s goth." You know, like Labyrinth. I really recommend the book if this sounds like your vibe. (And after you're done, check out Holly Black's Tithe.)
My nonfiction reading is all over the place right now but most recently it's been the book How Higher Education Works, which is illuminating, disheartening, and apparently timeless since it came out around 2008 and the same issues have only been exacerbated in the intervening years.
A random, but somewhat related question so I thought I’d drop it here. When buying books, is it better to buy directly from the publisher or from a local bookstore (like BookPeople)? I’ve recently made a conscious effort to not buy books from the likes of Amazon, but am often torn at where to buy them from. Does buying directly from publisher mean more money in the authors pocket? I also recognize the importance of supporting local bookstores, but don’t know how the economics work out. Anyways, curious on your intel and thoughts on the buying preferences (and then of course where libraries fit in with that!).
PS - I read about 5 of these books and 2 of them in your book club and I’m forever grateful being introduced to new authors and books. Hoping to read the rest of this list in the future!