Calling for urgency in the books we read and write

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bill Wolfe has this cool blog. It's called Read Her Like an Open Book. He's giving interesting people, very interesting people, a chance to have their say.

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to be invited to speak out as well. (Not that I'm that interesting. He's just that nice.) And so I am there today, talking about the need to write and read books that have a true and jolting impact—books that avoid the safety zone of imitation and too-familiar comfort. My piece begins like this:
I need them urgent. I need them to persuade me of their relevance, to yank me by the hair, to stop me in my whirling tracks, to somehow give me faith (still, still) in this planet rotten with injustice.

I am a bore, I am a scold, I am no fun, excuse me and but:
And can be found in total here.

What books, you might wonder, have jolted me of late? I read both nonfiction and fiction (I think the sentiments apply to both). In recent weeks, I've been deeply engaged by books like these:

Five Days at Memorial, Sheri Fink

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo

The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert

Once I was Cool, Megan Stielstra

The Yellow Birds/Kevin Powers

Life Drawing, Robin Black

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

The Department of Speculation, Jenny Offill


Serena said...

someday I hope my poetry is on that list.

Melissa Sarno said...

I LOVE THIS. You're right. It's time. And thank you for always highlighting and writing books that achieve this sense of urgency.

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