Worth Reading: Volume 4

It's a rainy day prefacing a long weekend here in Ottawa, and though I have a to-do list as long as my arm to get done before end of day, allow me to procrastinate just a little bit and share with you some of the gems I've read lately. Perfect leisurely patio reads for the rest of the weekend? Maybe. 

The Prettiest Girl at the Party

If you're interested at all in the inner workings of the news media, you may have noticed all the talk about Jill Abramson's departure from the New York Times this week. More than any other article I've read, this piece by Rachel Sklar really resonated with me. Beautifully written, it tapped into some of the ideas that so many people struggle with when leaving a job; whether by choice, or when the choice is made for you. Some of my favourite bits: 

Abramson was let go in this way not because of a failure of business or journalism — the point of the enterprise, lest we forget! — but because Arthur Sulzberger is himself a bad manager, and managed this situation spectacularly badly.

Your power does not come from luck. Your power comes from you, and what you invest in it every day, in the work and the sweat and the giving a damn. That is what you carry around with you, even as you walk out of your fancy top job for the last time. That is what you carry into the next thing, and there will be a next thing, because you are good and because that’s what you do. That is your capital.

Diary of a 24-hour dive bar

"Dive bars are inherently patient places." I very much wish that this patient place was in my neighbourhood, too. 

The Ghost Files

Often, when looking in a box of diplomatic records, he would find a single sheet of paper, slipped in between the others that described the rough outlines of a document that appeared to be missing. 

Storytelling Is a Magical, Ruthless Discipline

Zadie Smith on storytelling, at the Moth Ball Gala earlier this month (via The Li.st on Medium). In a time where so many people call themselves "storytellers" (I'm looking at you, marketing communications), it was nice to look at storytelling in a different light. 

Storytelling is a magical, ruthless discipline. The people who tell stories are often tempted to create a hierarchy in their lives, in which stories come before everything else, including people.

The New Playlist for Productive Work

I'm going to stop procrastinating now, and turn up some Super Mario Brothers to get things done. Until next time.


2013: My year in books

In 2012, I'm not sure I read much of anything except whatever the internet happened to be talking about. It was a busy year, and our local library had a terrible lack of English books available on both Overdrive and on their shelves. Quebec was tougher on my book-devouring habit than I had thought possible.

This past year I rediscovered reading (also, free time) and started reading everything I could get my hands on (my Pocket app tells me I read more than 700,000 words in longreads alone). I also started obsessively tracking all of the books I read, and for the last twelve months, that turned out to be just over 50. I had set a goal of 65, but don't feel the least bit bad about failing to meet it. 

Some of it was escapist fluff (we all have our vices, right? Mine is crime novels.) and others were some of the most delightful, impactful writing I've read in a long time. Easy favourites would be Curtis Sittenfeld's Sisterland, Kate Pullinger's Mistress of Nothing, Nino Ricci's The Origin of Species, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, and Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. View the full list of books.  

This year's goal is 52 books - one per week, and I've already finished book #4. Want to follow along? I'll be keeping track on Goodreads