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June 2016

Great investigative narratives written by women.

I'm stealing that headline from a Booklist article titled "What She Knows: Great Investigative Narratives Written by Women." I like the title; I like the article; I LOVE investigative works (you'll notice, please, I have a tag for "investigative" over in the right sidebar--that will take you to my reviews of investigative works), either by women or not. And I cannot resist a challenge. Booklist gave up five titles, including Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family (two of my favorites), so how many can I list? Go!

Rebecca Traister's All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

Brigid Schulte's Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

Jennifer Senior's All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

Helaine Olen's Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry

Rose George, Ninety Percent of Everything and The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters*

Jeanne Marie Laskas's Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work

Amanda Ripley's The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - And Why and The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way

Emily Oster's Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong-And What You Really Need to Know

Really, Booklist? You forgot Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea?

Anything by Stacy Horn

Barbara Ehrenreich's now-classic Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America

Ten titles, without even breathing hard. Suck it, Booklist.

(Although, in all fairness, I too noticed a while back that I have a hard time finding investigative books that I enjoy that are written by women. If they're all being marketed as memoirs, as the Booklist article suggests, that might at least explain a bit of that. And hey--if you click on the link above, you'll find a lot of other great women investigative writers listed in the comments. You commenters are so great, and you know your stuff!)

*This book is so good. If you read only one title on this list, make it this one.

Citizen Reading: 27 June 2016

So if you've been reading Citizen Reader for a while you might know two things: I used to be the co-editor of the (now defunct) Reader's Advisor Online blog, a title and library awareness blog meant to get readers' advisory librarians up to speed on all things titles, authors, awards, book to media adaptations, publishing, and other news, each and every week; and because that blog very helpfully provided lists of each week's new title releases, I used to do a Monday morning New Nonfiction list with commentary.

Well, the RAO blog closed down. Which means I'm out a job, and I'm also out a handy source of new nonfiction title listings every week. And if you read our post about how (mostly) Cindy Orr prepared those new titles lists, you know it was a shit-ton of work. So, sadly, for now I will not be posting New Nonfiction lists, with or without commentary.

But I thought I'd take a whack at a weekly look at reading and book news. Because I am writing this without a sponsor, I also feel like I can finally comment on these news tidbits in a way that I could not at the Reader's Advisor Online. Fun! (Well, for me, anyway, time will tell if any of you enjoy it.) Alas, this weekly feature will not be as comprehensive as the RA Run Down used to be. Without receiving payment, I just can't give it as much time.

So, let's try this, shall we? This week will be a rather unfocused list of links. I hope to fine-tune and organize as we go. Suggestions? Let's have 'em!

And now: Citizen Reading, the June 27, 2016 edition:

One of my favorites: Anne Tyler's got a new novel coming out, a retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. (Although that link is to a not particularly positive review of the book.)

I like books, and I like being a mom, but something about this announcement of BOOKMOM, a new blog, makes me want to puke a little bit. I think it's this quote from the blogger: "I felt overwhelmed with the idea of introducing books in a way that would resonate and instill a lifetime love of reading." Yeah, like I could even think any sentences that coherent when I was looking for books to read to my babies and then my toddlers. Mainly I thought, "What could I find to read to these guys that I could stand to listen to 50 times over too?" Doesn't help that it's part of a website, sponsored by Simon & Schuster, called Tips on Life and Love.

Amazon has named its "Best Books of the Year So Far," so you know, you better go check that out. Because Amazon is your Lord and Master, and will soon be dropping these books by drone at your house whether you like them or not.

The Center for Fiction reveals its 2016 Fellows. Ever heard of any of these authors?

God, do I hate the word "bromance" (I hate it SO MUCH), but this is an interesting article about 97-year-old Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and his 96-year-old literary agent, Sterling Lord. Both were heavily involved with the Beats, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. 97 and 96, and still working! And working in books and arts! Just imagine. What great lives.

Michael Herr, groundbreaking journalist and author of Dispatches (about the Vietnam War), has died, at the age of 76. Michael Herr's Dispatches is one of the books I couldn't get myself to take off my shelves. He also co-wrote the screenplay for "Full Metal Jacket," which is excruciating to watch, but is a really important and really excellent movie about the many horrors and endless stupidities of war, including the dehumanization and cruelty that takes place in the military before anybody even GETS to the war. Jesus. It's time for me to re-watch "Full Metal Jacket."

Publishers embracing video--wow, way to move with the times, publishers. How many years did that take you? (This also doubles as this week's Obligatory Neil Gaiman Post--a video of him singing while driving around to visit indie bookstores is included!)

Saucy covers at a bookstore near you.

Hey, some of my prayers do get answered: Nicholas Sparks Productions is shutting down. The company, founded in 2012, was dedicated, big surprise, to adapting Nicholas Sparks's horrible sappy novels into horrible sappy movies.

From the "no kidding" file: most companies have policies against social media use at work, and most employees use it anyway. Excuse me. I must go link to this very fascinating article from my LinkedIn profile.

True Crime is everywhere: an interview about it with author Bill James. An aspect of True Crime readers I'd never thought of before: When they become "Internet sleuths."

Breastfeeding in novels: I'm largely ambivalent about this list (as I was largely ambivalent about breastfeeding itself, thank you very much, although I was thankful to be able to do it), but I am glad there is a shout out to Elisa Albert's very angry and very excellent novel of motherhood, After Birth.

This week's entry in the Oh My God, Mark Zuckerberg, Are You a Huge Hypocrite contest: he covers up his laptop camera. Really, Mark? I thought you didn't believe in privacy.

Now here's a list I can get behind: Summer Reading for Wretched Assholes Who Prefer to Wallow In Someone Else's Misery

Muhammad Ali inspired a lot of books.

Go buy a book at Barnes & Noble, would you, for the love of all that's holy?

I'm just going to say this: I LOVE TELEVISION. It is, aside from reading, my other lifelong love. So you can imagine I'll be eating up Flavorwire's new "Trendspotting in TV" column. Up this week? TV's Sexy Jerks.

So, what kind of reading news do you want? Categories? Suggestions in general?

So here's what we're going to do.

Well, it's been a bit of a time, frankly.

First off: Hello. I'm sorry it's been a while. Whenever I take a break from blogging, I feel instant relief. I can just read! I don't have to track it, write about it, think about how to write about it! Bliss! But I always find that I really miss blogging in very short order. Or, I should say, I miss conversing. The best part of this blog, for me, is checking in periodically to see if you are commenting and what you are saying. I have had so many thoughtful, interesting conversations here. I spent a little time this month going back and reading some much older posts and comments--and laughed all over again to see the fun.

So what's up? Well, I've not really felt myself for some time. I've been reading--almost nothing stops me from reading--but for a long time I have not felt like writing about the books I've been reading. Mainly because 2015 was a sucktastic void of a year. I came up against my midlife crisis in 2015 and it won. Never before had I ever felt so old. Never before had I felt so physically, mentally, and emotionally lousy. Never before had I felt so fundamentally unlike any self I had ever been comfortable with or wanted to be.

And then my dad died.

Okay, 2015, I could have done without that.

Now, am I being melodramatic about 2015? Am I being just like my two-year-old son when he screams the house down because he doesn't get to eat a delicious buttery cracker* RIGHT NOW? Well, of course. I'm not young, so you know my dad wasn't overly young. He lived a great life. He received the gift of a quick death that millions of suffering people all over the world are praying for right at this moment. I can't really be bitter about either my dad's life or his death.

But still. I keep finding I just don't feel like doing anything, and I think deep down part of that is about missing my dad. And aging. And all that good stuff. Come to think of it, I could go for a good delicious buttery cracker.

But I think I need 2016 to be better. And I think that's going to require me returning to being Citizen Reader. Are you in? First order of business is to set up some sort of title awareness/reading news weekly post, to replace the Reader's Advisor Online blog, which I miss writing (and reading). Further bulletins as events warrant...

*Yeah, it's just a Ritz cracker, but I'm trying to teach the boys to enjoy the little things in life so we call them "delicious buttery crackers." As in: "If I eat all my pork chop, can I get some delicious buttery crackers?"