Hey there. It's the middle of August. I don't know how that happened. I was supposed to send this last week (the first Friday of the month), but I wasn't supposed to send three in July and I did, so, you know, you're coming out ahead either way. I can only do so much.
Is this the first time you're receiving this newsletter? The archive is available here.
1. I readily admit I was reluctant to read Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. I heard "post-apocalyptic" and thought, zombies. And I don't do zombies. But there are no zombies. I'm not even sure post-apocalyptic is an accurate label. Yes, something called the Georgian Flu has wiped out 99 percent of the population, but so what? Station Eleven is my book club's September pick, so I downloaded the audiobook and started listening on a road trip last week. The trip was too short, there and back in the same day, so I created tasks for myself to facilitate listening to the rest of the book as quickly as possible. I cleaned the entire house. I made dinner two nights in a row. I folded laundry as soon as it came out of the dryer. I organized books that had just been organized three weeks earlier. I did anything I could do while wearing earbuds. I was obsessed with this book. You will be, too.
2. Earlier this year I read Michiko Kakutani's review of Alexandra Fuller's new memoir, Leaving Before the Rains Come. The review, in the New York Times, suggested that this book was Fuller's third in a series of family memoirs, so I started with her first, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, and then read her second, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness before moving on to Rains. Having completed this trilogy, I recommend Fuller's first, Dogs, for its lyrical storytelling and grounding narrative of her childhood in central Africa and her second, Cocktail Hour, as a shining example of how to write a memoir—and the story of a person, in this case Fuller's mother—with a great deal of distance.
3. My final recommendation isn't a book or a product, it's a person. You might have noticed the logo at the top of this newsletter. Jen Deaderick designed that. She also designed my website. She is top notch. If you have any web design needs, get at her.