03: What to Read When You're Tired of Your Damn Room

One book and (at least) five articles. We're talking Virginia Woolf, art crime, Japanese reality TV, girl scout cookies, Twitter drama, and starship games today.

New here? Welcome! Consult my first post to see what amateur bibliotherapy means.

Happy Sunday, friends. Let’s circle up with some cocoa and crumpets while we tucker into some good reads.

The Book Stuff

If you’ve become all too aware of every stupid corner of your current home, reading A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN by Virginia Woolf may remind you why having that space is revolutionary. Woolf argues that having an income and a room to yourself are the keys to having the freedom to create. This text might rejuvenate your perspective on your four walls, and Woolf’s stream of consciousness prose has the added bonus of making you feel like you’re peeking into someone else’s room-brain for a while. 

And what a room-brain to peek into! Not only is Woolf’s writing a journey in and of itself, but her real world house reflects it; I visited her English country retreat, Monk’s House, and found it to be a dreamy respite (my photo below in lieu of a book cover, because there are just too many editions of this book). 

"As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world." -Virginia Woolf, my kindred spirit particularly as I get ready to leave this lovely place
May 24, 2015

What to know going in: While you can easily get a free PDF of this book, I recommend spending the ten bucks for an annotated edition like the one I grudgingly bought and then greatly appreciated while in college. The historical and psychological context surrounding Woolf’s work is helpful; but if that’s not your jam, you can always wait for The Hours to inevitably come on cable and then join me in laughing at Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose

If you’re looking for even more book recommendations, the team behind the charming weekly newsletter Girls Night In put together a Google spreadsheet of calming things they’re reading (and listening to and watching); Vox just launched a new column in which their book critic will recommend reads based on your mood; and even BroadwayWorld is in on the virtual book club trend happening right now. 

The Other Stuff

Today I’m also supplying you with five articles that might take you by the hand and yank you down a fun wormhole. They are: 

We Found Love in a Fictional Place, The Outline (~10 min). If you find yourself nostalgic for the days of GeoCities and MySpace, read this brief explainer on how our culture moved away from flashing glitter graphics in favor of the current internet’s minimalist aesthetic. Pairs well with this Kevin Nguyen interview in which he discusses his new novel, New Waves, that’s set in the “tech optimism” era of the mid-aughts; and anything by Anna Weiner, whose memoir Uncanny Valley reflects on her time working in tech during “the beginning of the end of Silicon Valley.”

The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief, GQ (~39 min). For fans of The Thomas Crown Affair and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. This is the story of an art thief who only steals art because of his emotional connection to the piece (he simply must have it!). 

Sing Alongs and Tagalongs: What Goes Down on the Set of Gourmet Makes, Bon Appetit (~14 min). It has come to my attention that a disturbing number of you have never seen the BA Test Kitchen’s delightful YouTube channel and, therefore, have never seen an episode of Gourmet Makes. Prior to reading this article, please go watch pastry chef and internet icon Claire Saffitz make gourmet girl scout cookies. Then go watch the rest of the series as a treat. 

‘Eve Online’ Turns 15 Today, and its History is Epic, Engadget (~27 min). One day, this article chronicling the dramatic history of an online multiplayer spaceship game I’d never heard of fell into my lap (thanks to a group chat with my ~favorite bois~). I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. This absurd game has everything I love: insanely convoluted politicking, ideological figure heads, slush funds from online casino winnings, and more. 

What It’s Really Like Inside Netflix’s “Terrace House,” Tokyo Weekender (~7 min). I am smitten with Terrace House, a Japanese unscripted series that follows the lifestyles and romances of six strangers who move into a beautifully furnished home together (where lighthearted drama ensues). Between scenes from the house itself are commentaries from a fabulous panel of comedians, who dissect all of the little things that go on in the house. The strange alchemy of these components produces a relaxing TV experience that one must watch to understand; perhaps this article will convince you to give it a try.

I’d be remiss not to report that The Internet Archive has also put together a National Emergency Library with 1.4 million books available for anyone to digitally borrow (here’s how). Not everyone is pleased about it (most notably, award-winning author Colson Whitehead and national publishing industry trade association the Authors Guild) because it’s a project that doesn’t immediately put money into the pockets of publishers, authors or bookstores. But given that some bookstores are actually hiring back laid off workers to meet online ordering demands, I’d say that there’s evidence we can both use digital resources to our advantage and also support our favorite bookstores.

But enough Twitter drama in my happy newsletter! Twitter is sometimes delicious, but rarely nourishing. I’ll leave you today with the announcement that I have succumbed to peer pressure (from…well, Twitter) and am now obsessed with Netflix’s Tiger King, just like the rest of you heathens. For the uninitiated, start here and prepare for a series packed with murder, intrigue, and lots of big cats. I’ll be in touch this week with more to read between episodes.