Review: Make Good Art

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman and Chip Kidd


Every graduation season, amazing people make amazing commencement speeches. And because we’re lucky enough to live in the digital age, their stories, advice, and inspiration is available to everyone, not just the graduates. In 2012, Neil Gaiman joined in the fun with his “Make Good Art” speech delivered to the graduating class of Philadelphia’s the University of the Arts. I remember it absolutely blowing up around this time last year, as I was facing my own graduation from college.

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Review: Fic

Fic by Anne Jamison


I may not have been raised by fans, but I was raised on (and by) fandom. While I consider that first viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001 the revealing of my fannish destiny, I watched my first episode of Digimon in 1999. Add Internet access and the now actually lost Lost Temple of Ishida (a thousand blessings on the Wayback Machine, seriously), and I was reading and writing fanfiction well before I understood that I had the ability to wear different shoes on different days. I mean, I was nine years old when I got my first FanFiction.Net account. Given the shoddiness of my memory, I’ve practically never known a world without fanfiction.

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Review: Best Food Writing 2013

Best Food Writing 2013 edited by Holly Hughes


While only a few months separate my readings of Best Food Writing 2011 and Best Food Writing 2013, they’re worlds away from each other when it comes to my cooking and my own relationship with food. Providing for myself is quite a different experience from living with my parents or living at school. (There are no endless bowls of apples, for one.) On the one hand, there are some things that I love that I won’t be buying anytime soon, like smoked salmon. On the other hand, I’ve had to get more creative, resulting in baguettes stuffed with veggie puree and almond milk-based curry. (I’m lactose intolerant, so that’s always on hand.) Food is becoming something I have more and more control over, simply because I have to cook constantly. It is no longer a fun hobby I indulged in for friends’ birthdays and the holidays, but something I do everyday.

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Review: Let’s Talk About Love

Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson


While the Thirty-Three and a Third series started in 2003, I distinctly remembering seeing them everywhere last year about this time. The local music shop next to my college boasted a fair few, and even a used bookstore I ventured into miles away during a library conference had a complete set. But I was probably noticing them because I’d just decided to take music as seriously as I took the rest of my popular culture intake. I listened to the Beatles discography for the first time, started a playlist on Spotify entitled “Homework,” and started trying to move away from my singles-focused grazing method of musical appreciation. The series seemed like a great supplement to what I was doing, but Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste seemed the best place to start. Not because of my own musical taste—the more overproduced, cheesy, and artificial, the better, frankly—but because Wilson was tackling something almost antithetical to his own musical identity. An open-minded exploration of musical taste seemed the perfect place to start.

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Review: Editors on Editing

Editors on Editing edited by Gerry Gross


As part of my homework for what I like to think of as publishing camp, I was assigned three books to read—I’ve already read and reviewed The Elements of Style, and I need to pick up a copy of the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. Luckily, I recently earned a Barnes & Noble gift card for my collegiate years of service to the theater, and I’ve been measuring adulthood lately by being cheap and practical. (“Adults,” I tell myself, “buy pens in the giant packs of twenty.”) I was only assigned excerpts out of Editors on Editing, but I just can’t do sampling. I have to take the whole thing out for a test drive.

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Review: How to Suppress Women’s Writing

How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ


In How to Suppress Women’s Writing, the late, great Joanna Russ talks about how important it is for the writing woman to have role models. In this spirit, I dedicate this post to three of Russ’ clear heiresses (besides, you know, her annual collection)—Ana, Jodie, and Renay, especially when they assemble the patriarchy-smashing Voltron that is ladybusiness. I thought of them after reading each chapter of this book. Ladies, Russ clearly belongs to you.

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Review: The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White


If you are a person who enjoys schadenfreude, like myself, there is something particularly sweet about the critical resistance of teenage artists. Back in the early aughts, you couldn’t swing a cat at DeviantArt without hitting at least five kids who defended their poor proportions and sloppy linework as their style. Ah, the hubris of youth. Of course, I wasn’t spared from this phenomenon during the Wombat Years. I was going to be A WRITER (with A DAY JOB because WRITERS made SQUAT, according to my careful research), but the idea of actually honing my craft raised my hackles even further than usual. Any grammatical errors were my style, man, get off my back! Mercifully for both me and everyone around me, the Wombat Years eventually ended, leaving me fully capable to absorb something like The Elements of Style for publishing camp.

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Review: My Ideal Bookshelf

My Ideal Bookshelf by Jane Mount and Thessaly La Force


Every bibliophile knows the surreptitious joy of peeking at other people’s well-curated bookshelves. (Curation is important: haphazard piles of dusty books make me sad, unless I’m a potential buyer.) The books that are so important to you they stay with you move after move, culling after culling… those are the ones you can count the rings on your soul with. This is exactly what artist Jane Mount was tapping into when she started the Ideal Bookshelf Project in 2007, painting people’s idealized bookshelves. The spectacularly named Thessaly La Force joined forces with her and added interviews to Mount’s pieces, resulting in My Ideal Bookshelf.

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The Sunday Salon: 2010 in Review

It’s the last Sunday in 2010, so you know what that means—it’s time for my annual top ten list, taken from the books I’ve read this year, not books only published this year. (I don’t think I’ve even read ten books that were published in 2010.) Here’s last year’s, if you’re so inclined. I have to admit, having an entire year to pull from (as opposed to last year, when I had about four months’ worth of sparser reviews to pick through) made things a bit difficult; there some books I wanted to include, but ultimately ended up deciding against. If you’re interested in what I left off the list, feel free to rifle through the 5 and 4.5 Stars subcategories under Ratings. That said, let’s dig in.
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