The online clamor

"At the time, like many of her friends, she was frozen, unsure of how to proceed. In Oakland, where she lives, it felt like everyone she knew was asking themselves, 'What is the point of what I am doing? Am I adding anything to the world?' At the same time, it felt difficult to distance oneself from the online clamor long enough to formulate an answer."

-- from the NYT Book Review of Jenny Odell's “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy." I really, really liked the essay she wrote which apparently led to the book. If I can pry myself away from the Internet for long enough maybe I'll actually read the book too.


Starting -- and hanging in

"How old are you?
Twenty-one? Thirty?
It doesn't matter -- you need only to have some kind of job somewhere. Then, from that most unillustrious beginning, however young or old you are, you move ever so gradually up, and, if you stay with it, the gradual moving up takes you to the top. 

It's true. It doesn't matter where you start, or with what company; what matters is starting -- and hanging in.

May I tell you about my early jobs? They were pitiful, and I was pitiful in them."

I wish I could just excerpt the entirety of the late Helen Gurley Brown's book "Having It All" on my blog -- it's a favorite I have referenced a couple of times in the past -- but I would just entreaty you all to buy it (it's out of print, but I blessedly stumbled upon it at a vintage store a few years back and it seems to be in stock on Amazon still.) She is wonderful, funny, ridiculous, brilliant, and so helpful and woman-centric and instructive and loving -- not to mention how she's instilled into me an respect for the power of italics.

I have to assume that anyone who is deriding Helen Gurley Brown's legacy when it comes to women and feminism (as have some people whose thoughts I otherwise often respect) has not read enough of her work to really understand what she was about. Today's Cosmopolitan has nothing to do with what HGB pioneered. 

Anyway. That mouseburger will be sorely missed, and may she rest in peace.

Hopeful shopping

Photo by Deirdre Schoo for The New York Times

Last week the New York Times' Thursday Styles section profiled bookstore owner Sarah McNally, who owns "the determinedly WiFi-free McNally Jackson Books on Prince Street in Nolita." It was a really enjoyable read, and here are a few reasons why:

  • The Espresso Book Machine

  • Had you ever heard of this? I hadn't, but it's amazing. It's a machine that prints any book on demand, and McNally Jackson Books has the only one in New York City (there are only 80 worldwide.) It has seven million titles available on it, and it prints each book in a matter of minutes.

    The machine can cost more than $100,000, a huge investment for an independent bookstore, but it makes sense when the NYT describes it as "Ms. McNally's grand gambit against the e-book pestilence." I also loved this description:

    Ms. McNally gazed tenderly at the behemoth as it printed 'Veiled Women,' by Marmaduke Pickinthall (1913) for a customer. "Look," she cooed, as mechanical thingamabobs measured and bound the new book. "It's still warm, like cookies fresh out of the oven."

  • She's kooky in a good way

    And the profile is full of little tidbits as evidence. To wit:

    She sipped tea, coughing, her thin body shaking. Bad cold? "Technically, I had tuberculosis," she said with a shrug.

  • The psychology of book buying

  • I always think of aspirational shopping as purchasing a fancy pair of shoes that don't fit into your lifestyle, a pair of jeans that are too snug, or a luxury car you can't quite afford. But buying books can be similar in that it represents the kind of person you hope to be, knowledge you hope to have in the future. I never thought of it that way until I read this: 

    "I believe that within every great reader there are multitudes of people," she said... Book buying is aspirational, she added. "They are deeply hopeful purchases."

    Come on, come out

    Spend the day outside communing with nature. Seriously.
    It's like pushing a reset button on your mind and wiping out the crazy.

    -Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin in the Skinny Bitch series (which I picked up at the library but don't exactly recommend, although it has its moments.)

    I'm a firm believer in the crazy-erasing effect of spending any decent amount of time outside, whether it's a day-long hike in the rainforest or a 20 minute walk down a tree-lined street (which is how I came to take this photo.)