What We’re Reading This Week


Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way by Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin’s death encouraged me to finally give her translation of the Tao Te Ching its due. It’s one of the few seminal religious texts you might read in one sitting, although I never have. This is at least my fourth time struggling with Lao Tzu’s call towards simplicity, an elusive ineffable integrity revealed in perception and insight that can’t be willed or studied or retained. Le Guin loves this work, loves it in a way I envy. I struggle along the Tao’s margins, nowhere near the source.


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Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance by Mark Whitaker

I’ve just started reading Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance by Mark Whitaker. I’m only a couple chapters into this exploration of the vibrant black culture of 1920’s-50’s Pittsburgh and it’s quite interesting. I’ve learned how the Pittsburgh Courier‘s keen editors and sportswriters helped double the paper’s circulation by carefully and comprehensively covering Joe Louis and his 1938 rematch against Max Schmeling. Looking forward to passages on Pittsburgh jazz pioneers Billy Eckstine, Erroll Garner and Earl Hines.
-Jason S.

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Motherhood by Sheila Heti
I have to admit, I read the first 30 pages of this book believing it was a memoir. That’s how deeply personal and intimate Heti’s novel feels. The lines are blurred between author and narrator, and the questions posed in between coin tosses seem to be borrowed from every woman’s mind. The narrator, on the edge of 40, grapples with the decision of becoming a mother in the face of the world’s expectations, wondering what a woman can be without children. Motherhood begs to be discussed, and it’s one of the few Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) I actually marked up. Motherhood is available for pre-order here.

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