Essay of the week: On Harper Lee…

It seems fitting to highlight this great piece about Harper Lee by Roy Hoffman in the New York Times now that Go Set a Watchman has come out and blown up the Internet.

Essay of the week: I, Racist

When I find it (which is not as often as I’d like), I like to feature thoughtful, thought-provoking writing from the Web. I hope this piece has the same effect on you as it did on me: making me rethink my complicity in racism in America: I, Racist by John Metta — Medium.

New blog: Sci Femme

I’ve resurrected an old idea of mine, which is to read science fiction about women and blog about it. I call the blog Sci Femme, and I hope to use it as a forum for longer-form essays about themes and trends in science fiction written by women. I’ll be looking at both new and classic books. I’ll also post news and other resources there as I discover them. There’s not much there at present, just a few older pieces to seed the garden, so to speak, but I hope you’ll visit and follow. I plan to blog regularly there for at least the next year of reading, perhaps longer if this project takes hold. I’ll also post updates here when I make them.

Essay of the week: Amanda Palmer on radical empathy…

A beautifully written piece by Amanda Palmer: Playing the Hitler Card: “We live in an age of endless, foaming outrage. The only answer is to try to feel empathy for other people, no matter who they are.”

Essay of the week: Are women-only book prizes necessary?

Maybe for a century or more to come, we’ll continue to need cultural spaces in which “women’s writing” is protected and encouraged to flourish as something separate from “men’s.” But that same small part of me fears that the gated-off arena can too easily become a prison. There’s something ironic, and a little depressing, in the fact that the digital archive of a major American university now displays the poems of the boldly gender-­ambiguous, literary-drag-­wearing Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell under the festively decorated but irredeemably patronizing heading “A Celebration of Women Writers.”

via Does an Award Like the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Help or Hurt the Cause of Women Writers? – NYTimes.com; quote by Dana Stevens; Zoe Heller also answered the question.

Essay of the week: Neil Gaiman’s manifesto on reading

“I’m going to tell you that libraries are important. I’m going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I’m going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.”

This was actually published in 2013, based on a lecture Gaiman gave to the Reading Agency, but it so wonderfully expresses why reading, and especially reading fiction, is absolutely critical for the future of our society and why we all need to support libraries as much as we can, that it bears reading and rereading and constant reinforcing: Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming | Books | The Guardian.

Essay of the week: The meaning of “natural”

Why ‘Natural’ Doesn’t Mean Anything Anymore – NYTimes.com, a really interesting essay by food writer Michael Pollan on the meaning of the word natural.