What are you reading?

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My erstwhile Everything is Fine co-host Tally Abecassis told me about Daisy Jones & The Six, which she thought might be right in my wheelhouse. The book is by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and it’s a fictional oral history of a band that makes it big in 70s L.A. And it is right up my alley in so many ways: it satisfies my obsession with 70s L.A., and rock history, and it reads like such a real oral history that I have to keep reminding myself it’s not.

I’m not especially proud of this fact, but I am fascinated by the royal family. I don’t admire or wish I knew them—most of them seem, frankly, like a snore—but I do think the fact of their existence in 2022 is pretty crazy. Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor—the Truth and the Turmoil is an irresistible combination of juicy gossip, rigorous research, and snappy writing. And though it sags in certain sections, it remains a rollicking good time.

I’m not sure how I was supposed to resist the siren song of Anna: The Biography, but rest assured, I didn’t. So far it feels far from definitive—Anna’s a slippery character, and even though a number of her friends spoke to author Amy Odell, a clear portrait of her doesn’t emerge—but it’s full of plenty of good nuggets that I haven’t read or heard elsewhere. Any fan of old-school magazine culture will get a kick out of this.

 

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64 Thoughts on What are you reading?
    Sari Botton
    11 May 2022
    11:10am

    Four books I recently adored and can’t recommend highly enough: Carry the Dog, a novel by Stephanie Gangi. Mouth to Mouth, a novel by Antoine Wilson (I couldn’t put it down and read it in a day). Vladimir, a novel by Julia May Jonas. Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos.

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      Papersitter
      11 May 2022
      12:51pm

      I just finished Vladimir. Great story and lots to think about.

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      Ashley
      12 May 2022
      7:42am

      Mouth to Mouth is incredible! I found myself slowing down as I read because I didn’t want it to end.

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    Michellebeth
    11 May 2022
    11:17am

    If you like a good “stylish read” as I do, have you read “Chanel’s Riviera” by Anne de Courcy? This is a fascinating and well-researched study of France just before and during World War II, full of fascinating characters including the indomitable Chanel (who comes off better than expected).

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    Tammy
    11 May 2022
    11:41am

    I’ve been on a non-fiction binge, of late. “Invisible Child” by Andrea Elliott is about a family dealing with poverty, incarceration, living the projects and dealing with various agencies in New York. “Family Roe” by Joshua Prager discusses the background of Norma McCalvy, her daughters, and others associated with Roe v. Wade.

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    Adrienne
    11 May 2022
    11:52am

    Liz, you will probably like ALT, Andre Leon Talley’s first memoir. The writing is so much better than The Chiffon Trenches, and he describes his childhood and young adult memories, which led to his entry into fashion and luxury. I loved The Beautiful Fall, but also excited about reading the Anna Wintour bio.

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    elise
    11 May 2022
    11:54am

    Just finished Black Cake and highly recommend! Read Malibu Rising (also by Taylor Jenkins Reid) – good beach read, a bit long tho. I’ve been on a “suspense” kick lately so glad to get other recommendations. Fun post – thanks Kim!

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    Adrienne
    11 May 2022
    12:00pm

    Kim, I highly recommend both of Kristen Van Ogtrop’s (former EIC of Real Simple) memoirs, Just Let me Lie Down and Did I Say That Out Loud. Full of humorous anecdotes and “Kristen-isms,” which are hysterical (beware of going to the Book of Too Much or reading Flamethrower Emails!)

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    Rebecca
    11 May 2022
    12:04pm

    If I may – the audio of Daisy Jones is … sooo worth it. Judy Greer and Benjamin Bratt, in particular, make you feel like you are right there taking interview notes. I gave up on the hardback but have listened to the audio – in tears, sometimes, which is unheard of for me – more than once.

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      Tanya
      12 May 2022
      3:31pm

      Yes! I read the audio of Daisy Jones and loved it. Malibu Rising on audio was also very good. It had a strong sense of time and place.

      I’ve recently read three of Lucy Foley’s books (The Guest List, The Paris Apartment, and The Hunting Party [last two on audio] and really enjoyed them. Not deep, but fun absorbing reads.

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      Kara
      12 May 2022
      9:51am

      Yes! It’s my favorite audiobook to date because the cast was so good.

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    Tally
    11 May 2022
    12:11pm

    Oh niiiice! So glad you’re reading it!!

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    cw
    11 May 2022
    12:23pm

    Just finished The Candy House by Jennifer Egan. I love her writing so don’t want to be negative about it, but it didn’t seem on the same level as A Visit From The Goon Squad, BUT I have been so distracted by RvW and other political nightmares that my judgement about anything is caddywhompers. A book I haven’t read, but want to is Country of Origin by Dalia Azim. I also have the new Emily St.John Mandel waiting for me. I LOVE these posts because I always discover books that have escaped my attention.

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      Jenny
      11 May 2022
      1:56pm

      cw,if you want to feel affirmed in your position, I strongly recommend reading Ron Charles’ review of The Candy House, in The Washington Post. I think you can get at least one free article before the paywall drops. https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2022/03/29/jennifer-egan-candy-house-book-review/

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        cw
        11 May 2022
        3:59pm

        Thank you, Jenny, for linking that review. I have a subscription to the Post, but somehow missed the review and YES I do agree with what he says! I believe one of the dangers lurking for me is how our culture has caused me to develop a need to “binge” forms of entertainment such as television shows, podcasts and books. If there is a sequel I want it to be available immediately after I finish the original (which is both demanding and entitled not to mention unreasonable). As Mr. Charles points out, it has been 12 years since the Goon Squad and I simply don’t remember enough about the first book to make the sequel deeper. I’m not criticizing Ms. Egan for taking 12 years between the two––not at all––it’s more a commentary on my own shortcomings.

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      Betsy P
      12 May 2022
      9:44am

      I predict you will love the ESM book. If you have not read The Glass Hotel, that is excellent too.

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        Liz
        12 May 2022
        12:27pm

        I haven’t read Sea of Tranquility yet, but I’ve read all of ESM’s other books and The Glass Hotel was my favorite. It was also without question the best book I read that year. I couldn’t put it down.

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    Jen
    11 May 2022
    12:38pm

    Loved Daisy Jones and the Six, and excited to watch the miniseries Amazon is making of it. Just finished Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and truly enjoyed it more than anything else I’ve read in the last six months or so. Really absorbing and provocative.

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    Peggy O.
    11 May 2022
    12:27pm

    Co-signing on the audio book of Daisy Jones. It is FANTASTIC. One of the best audio books I have “read” in ages! Print books, my favorite recently was “Cloud Cuckoo Land.” “Crying in H Mart” is great. Oh, and “Lincoln Highway.” I am, for work reasons, also reading Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities,” and while it is hard in 2022 to sink into something from the 19th century, he is as brilliant a writer as I remember from college. PLUS, ToTC is frighteningly relevant to our current time. And love that Madame DeFarge…..

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      kimbersam
      11 May 2022
      3:12pm

      “Hard Times” even more so.

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      Viajera
      12 May 2022
      1:31pm

      I love Dickens too, even though he had such serious issues with women. I can’t decide which to read next. Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby, Pickwick Papers, the __ Friend one. (I was just at the library bookstore – the deeeeals are insaaaane … and, I couldn’t pick. I’ll have to go back. I could just re-read Bleak House I suppose.)

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        Tanya
        12 May 2022
        3:37pm

        Dombey and Son is one I’d never heard of before my husband turned me on to it. It’s so good!

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          Viajera
          13 May 2022
          1:04pm

          Oooh, me either … I’ll have to look for that! Thanks!

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      Wendela
      12 May 2022
      5:45pm

      Agree on the Daisy Jones audiobook! Also in Crying in HMart, a memoir by the lead singer of Japanese Weekend if I’m getting the details right. Also just plowed through The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave which was fun, suspenseful but not in a way that makes it hard to sleep after reading It.

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    Papersitter
    11 May 2022
    12:50pm

    I was underwhelmed by Daisy Jones – maybe it was overhyped? I think Malibu Rising is a superior story – I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. I am currently reading Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin which I suspect is going to turn out to be a more engrossing read than the title suggests.
    Finally, I want to plug The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin. It’s such a great read about a woman trying so hard to get her piece of “the American Dream”. I finished it a year ago and it still haunts me.

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    kc
    11 May 2022
    5:58pm

    I finally read Station Eleven last week and just loved it. For those who like “substantive chick lit” (for lack of a better descriptor!) I recently read Just Last Night and highly recommend it.

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    Jenny
    11 May 2022
    2:04pm

    I have really enjoyed Charlotte Carter’s Nanette Hays series. Joan Silber’s interlinked story collection, Improvement, was breathtaking. Trinity by Louisa Hall, also interlinked stories, also very good. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo is spectacular (also interlinked stories, which I usually don’t like). Whenever I’m at a loss about what to read next, I just look at Molly Young’s the latest “Read Like the Wind” newsletter.

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    gilli treiman
    11 May 2022
    2:40pm

    I loved “Daisy Jones”! The” 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” also by Taylor Jenkins Reid is really good, I like all her books actually. Now reading ” Lost and Found” by Katherine Schultz. Tried to read “Anna” but I did not like the writing and it was repetitive. Jennifer Greys book was fun to listen to on Audible. Thanks for so many good recommendation’s here!

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    LisaH
    11 May 2022
    2:55pm

    I found a copy of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers in a little free library in my neighbourhood recently and re-read it: I read it and loved it when it came out in 2000, and was astonished at how you can rediscover a story 20+ years later. I recalled that it was funny and a bit of a romp through a particular era of my youth, but reading it this year I was captured by the aspect of navigating loss of parents and handling sibling relationships in adulthood. Books speak to us differently at different times in our lives.

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    patty
    11 May 2022
    2:58pm

    Matrix by Lauren Groff. Set in the time of Eleanor of Acquitane (sp?)
    The rise of a young girl to her old age as she brings an abbey from dire circumstances to a solidly successful operation. Beautiful writing.

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      kimbersam
      11 May 2022
      3:19pm

      Plus it beautifully centers a gay character in a historical context.

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    lauren spencer
    11 May 2022
    12:59pm

    Being a fan of California rock (of a certain time), you might dig Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie. Based very very (maybe not at all) loosely on Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. Lessons in Chemistry is also amazing: funny, sharp, the story of a woman in the 60s who is a chemist but becomes a food-show host having been sidelined from her brilliance…because, you know, womanhood. Her subversive comical ways are really well written.

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      lauren spencer
      11 May 2022
      1:04pm

      and I’m with Gemma on The Final Revival of Opal & Nev (also done in interview form and a great unfolding of how race marginalizes and destroys in Rock’n’Roll…

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      VTElizabeth
      13 May 2022
      10:01am

      Lessons in Chemistry was SO GOOD! I feel like its chick-lit cover doesn’t convey what a fresh, snappy, delightful read it is for smart feminists.

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    Gemma
    11 May 2022
    10:12am

    If you liked Daisy Jones and the Six, you may also like The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, which is a fictional archival history of an interracial rock band of the 70s.

    I’ve been re-reading The Comfort Food Diaries, by Emily Nunn, which is such a good memoir about grief and coming to terms with your life in middle age. It’s so funny and sad. She’d be a terrific guest on your podcast.

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      MARGARET
      11 May 2022
      6:15pm

      YES PLEASE, WE NEED MORE EMILY NUNN. She has a fabulous Substack about salad (really) and she is frequently on Twitter reaming the Washington Post a new one for age discrimination (pretty much the only woman on staff over 50 thereis the new editor in chief). She applied there, with decades of magazine and newspaper jobs, and was told they wanted someone more “experienced.”

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    Liz
    11 May 2022
    10:14am

    Kim, if you haven’t read Laurel Canyon by Michael Walker, I think you’d love it. I’ve been obsessed with 70s LA basically since high school, and this book was definitely one of the most dishy ones I’ve ever read.

    I just finished The Chiffon Trenches and enjoyed it (the first half was better than the rest, and the writing wasn’t great), but that book lead me to pick up The Beautiful Fall, which I’d somehow never heard of. I’ve only read the prologue so far but am really excited about it, since it’s about the drama of the 70s Paris fashion world, which were my favorite stories from Chiffon Trenches, and it’s nice and long.

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      Liz
      11 May 2022
      10:18am

      Oh, and Kim, you should also read the Stevie Nicks bio Gold Dust Woman by Stephen Clark, which I can imagine was probably the real life version of Daisy Jones. I didn’t know I was all that interested in Fleetwood Mac, but I read it last summer and could not put it down. The drama was insane, and it’s so well written.

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    Lisa
    11 May 2022
    10:18am

    I loved Daisy Jones! And putting in a plug for the two documentaries about the Laurel Canyon music scene. Still pining after Jackson Browne… The royals book and the AW book also look just right for escapism, which may be how I cope with the current world. And I’m taking notes on the other recs from commenters. Putting them all on my library holds list. Thanks!

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      Betsy P
      11 May 2022
      11:21am

      What are the names of the 2 docs on Laurel Canyon? By far, my favorite music (Eagles, Jackson Browne, JD Souther) was incubated there.

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        liz
        11 May 2022
        12:08pm

        I saw one on Netflix last year. I think it was just titled Laurel Canyon.

        I also love the film with Christian Bale among others.

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          Betsy P
          12 May 2022
          9:48am

          Thanks. I have the movie in my queue, but I will also look for the documentary.

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          Jax
          12 May 2022
          12:22am

          I *love* both movies by Lisa Cholodenko — Laurel Canyon (what a great Frances McDormand role) and High Art. I liked The Kids Are All Right, but I love those 2 earlier movies.

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            liz
            12 May 2022
            4:22pm

            Had to add that I just saw a scene with her in “Almost Famous”. She was really good. I’ve seen the movie many times and it is also relevant to the 70’s music scene.

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        Lisa
        12 May 2022
        7:24am

        Echo in the Canyon is one, and the other is simply called Laurel Canyon. I watched them during the same week. One has more footage from back in the day and one has more current interviews with the musicians. The two docs complement each other. It’s amazing to see those gorgeous faces (and voices) in their older forms. What a time they had.

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    Shelly
    11 May 2022
    10:32am

    I’m reading the Joan Didion biography “The Last Love Song” and a big part of it covers Didion’s time in Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s. I am a huge Didion fan but I’m not sure how I feel about the book. I think it’s a struggle because it confirms what is clear from her writing, which is that she was a wildly talented but also very complicated and not particularly happy human being who loved fame and wealth while pretending that she was above it.

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      MaryAlice
      11 May 2022
      12:51pm

      I, too am ambivalent about Joan Didion. She interviewed a friend of mine for a piece she wrote about a local scandal, and the subsequent story was breathtaking in it’s snobbery and classicism. She came from old California money and was incredibly condescending to anyone who wasn’t from her social strata. Beautiful writer, though – but I can’t read her anymore knowing what I know.
      I’m amused to hear that so many of our GOACA are obsessed with LA in the 70’s. I was there! I turned 18 in 1977 and yeah, it was fun 🙂

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        CeeJay
        11 May 2022
        4:28pm

        Agree, once you know something not so nice about a famous writer, it is hard to read them again. Through a round about way I know Nora Ephron was not a nice person, quite petty, and it is hard to see her fellow celebrities saying how lovely she was.

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    Michele
    11 May 2022
    10:20am

    A few of my friends and I started a “Banned Books Cabal” book club, using lists I found of books that have been either banned or challenged in various US schools and libraries (also, a couple of prisons) since the 1990s or so. It’s a long list.
    So far we’ve read “The Underground Girls of Kabul”, which was fascinating although it gets a bit cringe-y when the author starts opining on gender. Now we’re on “The God of Small Things”, which so far is a bit meandering but delicious.
    I’m also reading “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South” which is quite brilliant.

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    Dawn
    12 May 2022
    12:22pm

    I’m burned out on memoirs, and current fiction often leaves me disappointed, so for the past two years I’ve been reading John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series (there are 21 novels). They were originally published in the 1960’s and 1970’s and they are so good, truly each one better than the last. JDM is an excellent writer, and the mystery aspect is terrific and the social commentary insightful and timeless. I have five more to read and I’m dreading not having any more after that.

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    Kathy
    12 May 2022
    8:52pm

    I loved Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau. Also, Dream Girl by Laura Lippman—anything by her, really. Her Tess Monaghan modernish cozy mystery series is entertaining, but the recent stand-alone books are SO GOOD. Sunburn and Lady in the Lake are also killer. Just finished True Biz by Sara Novic and didn’t want it to end.

    Recent nonfiction: Dark Money by Jane Meyer, Midnight in Chernobyl, What Happened by Hillary Clinton, Going There by Katie Couric…

    I love to read, and am always happy to get recommendations!

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    Elisa
    12 May 2022
    8:02am

    I loved Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. It’s long, but it went quickly. I also really liked The Index of Self-Destructive Acts by Christopher Beha. Also long, but a family saga that is somewhat Franzen-esque (but I think better). And there are a lot of recommendations for Emily St. John Mandel books, and I loved Glass Hotel.

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    VTElizabeth
    13 May 2022
    10:37am

    I am here to push Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garman HARD — it is a fresh, smart, delightful feminist novel set in 1960 that took me by surprise with its humor and depth. Its cover makes it look silly but trust me: it is a complete joy on every level. I would put it up there with Early Morning Riser (Katherine Heiny), Great Circle (Maggie Shipstead) and Still Life (Sarah Winman) as a book I can recommend to everyone .

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    VTElizabeth
    13 May 2022
    10:15am

    I am here to push Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garman HARD — it is a fresh, smart, delightful feminist novel set in 1960 that took me by surprise with its humor and depth. Its cover makes it look light but trust me: it is a complete joy on every level. I would put it up there with Early Morning Riser (Katherine Heiny), Great Circle (Maggie Shipstead) and Still Life (Sarah Winman) as a book I can recommend to everyone .

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    D.Morgendorffer
    11 May 2022
    7:32pm

    I am in the last 300-page stretch in my ten pages a day reading of the Royall Tyler translation of The Tale of Genji. The depiction of the female characters is amazingly fresh. After I finish Genji, I’m going to read L.A. Woman because I always feel it’s right to start an Eve Babitz book in the summer. Along the way, loads of manga (not that anyone asked…like Wave, Listen to Me!)

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      Viajera
      12 May 2022
      1:35pm

      Oh, great ideas! I wish I read faster.

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        D.Morgendorffer
        12 May 2022
        4:22pm

        Viajera, on a different book note, I always wonder if you’ve read any Fidelis Morgan. I read one of her mysteries years ago and thought she was a lot of fun.

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          D.Morgendorffer
          12 May 2022
          4:32pm

          Last comment, I swear! Just spotted your response to my call for Candidate Viajera. You are NOT a slug, by the way. Your first task should be keeping an eye out for potential collaborators to back the Viajera Vision and make sure you have the proper support. As a reward for graciously considering this, let me share a shoe that I am currently trialing that I think you’d be interested in (go up a size if you’re a half size like me). I have not yet submitted the shoes to the true test, doing the beginning of the month Costco run, but it’s encouraging so far https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CKFBQ4C?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

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            Viajera
            13 May 2022
            1:00pm

            Oh, thank you! Those look very cute and I love anything that references cloudlike comfort. It takes me back to the old days, when I could wear sneakers. There was just nothing like a brand new pair of Sauconys. They made me want to buy new shoes for the entire planet. … … … And thank you again for the encouragement! I don’t think I am suited for actual candidacy, being introverted and not a morning person, however, maybe I can find someone who is and sort of cheer them on. And you know, I will also consider whether I couldn’t also encourage myself to do a bit more. Of *something.* Maybe I just need to find my niche. (In my case, it is taking a reeeeeeallly long time – like, sooooo long. I did always *want* a niche, but, no niches have appeared.) Anyhow i love your positivity. I am making a note about the book too. Right now, I am reading James Bond books. I have found action movies to be very helpful during the covid. But, I can mix in other things too.

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    Anastasia Christou
    11 May 2022
    8:47pm

    Just finished ‘Semi-Gloss’ a memoir by Australian Fashion magazine editor Justine Cullen, was an easy commute read! She is now appointed to edit Instyle Australia so looking forward to see how she goes with the revamp.
    I’m now reading ‘The Fran Lebowitz Reader’, love her wit and observations and of course NYC

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    The Prof
    11 May 2022
    9:06pm

    Nobody writes about GOACA better than Anne Tyler. I’ve just started Vladimir, mentioned above, and already love the 58 yr old narrator. Maybe because I too am a 48 yr old prof!

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    Mouse
    12 May 2022
    6:52am

    Not remotely fashionable, but as summer begins attempting to break out my reading takes a turn for escapist. I’m reading the Mick Herron Slough House series and wishing that I had the strength to shell out for AppleTV so I could watch the impending series. Not going there yet though–2 streaming services are enough; I refuse to do it.

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      Jen
      12 May 2022
      10:29am

      Mouse, not to tempt you further, but the AppleTV Slow Horses was so good that my husband, who has read all of them, now says he can’t help picturing the actors from the show as he reads the latest book version.

      I read an old but very summery novel in the NYRB series, The Go-Between, recently and thought it was completely amazing. AND it actually turns out the band the Go-Betweens (whom I love) are named after it!

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    Karen
    12 May 2022
    6:54am

    Not by design, but Just before i spent 1.5 weeks with at my mom at her senior community i read The Thursday Murder and its sequel, The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman. Light reading for sure, but entertaining and fun.
    I’m starting to put together my summer reading list, so thanks for this post, lots of great suggestions

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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