Tired of reading the same recommended books from the usual sources? Just think of our weekly What We’re Reading column as your non-committal book club with FADER and some of your favorite bands. For this installment, associate style editor Deidre Dyer shares her recent reads.
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead
By Sheryl Sandberg
From mid-February to early June, I was staying in hotels, racking up frequent flier miles and eating a lot of airport food. I was grateful to be traveling for an awesome freelance opportunity, but would often lose track of the days and sometimes forget where I was when I woke up. To compensate, I exercised at every hotel gym and watched tons of cable news. Somewhere between Cleveland, Ohio and Palm Beach, Florida, the chatter around Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, reached a screaming pitch. Waiting for my flight back to NYC, standing in line with the retired elderly, I picked up a copy at a Hudson News in Palm Beach. I took my time reading this book, absorbing the stats and figures that Sandberg put forth. Though I do not have a boyfriend nor children and currently walk the tenuous tightrope known as freelance life, someday soon, probably sooner if my mother had her way, I will be summoned by the universe to perform miracles and undertake the balancing act of working motherhood. That said, if you’re one of those women that want it all—the job, the husband/co-parent and genius child—or even if you just want some of it, read this book. At the very least, it will put you on to some feminist game and make you want to run shit and kick ass at whatever it is that you do.
All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
By Terry Gross
To sharpen my own skill, I believe in studying great writing. Terry Gross, the lauded host of NPR’s Fresh Air, is a masterful interviewer. All I Did Was Ask, her first book, is a greatest hits collection of interviews from her show. I came to this book wanting to learn how conduct a better interview and how to get subjects to open up in unexpected ways. Fortunately and unfortunately, I tore through the transcripts, enjoying the conversations more than studying them. To learn more, I’ll keep this on hand for a revisit.
by Teju Cole
The quiet, passive prose of Open City’s first 48 pages just did not jive with my breezy summer lifestyle of stoned beach days and midnight BBQs. So a couple months ago, I set it aside, and have been shuffling through non-committal periodicals ever since. Then, yesterday on The New Yorker’s site, I read Cole’s eulogy for Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor, who was killed during the massacre at Nairobi’s Westgate mall last weekend. His words are moving and eloquent. Stationed in his hotel room half a mile away from the mall, as the shooting spree turned into a multi-day hostage situation, Cole recounted hearing attack helicopters swirl overhead and heavy gun fire. Oddly juxtaposing the noise of warring forces, Cole also remembers morning birds chirping and children playing outside of his window. He recorded all of these sounds and uploaded them to a SoundCloud, a chilling audio diary of that day. After listening, I felt like a jerk for not immediately understanding and appreciating Cole’s atmospheric and remarkably still approach to writing in Open City. Writing as meticulous and watchful as his demands more attention than my summertime self could spare. This fall I will attempt it again with due diligence.