An update on the pub, some things to read — and some thoughts on the 'stack.
👏 Special thanks for calling out the ‘Pay me & I’ll promote you’ stacks, it just seems so antithetical to the platform, it’s baffling… I have Buried in my ’to read’ pile, I can’t wait to get to it.
Also, Joel, if you’re reading--let this woman have her bookshelves!
Yes to quality! Or authenticity, or depth – or whatever we're going to call it. I'm excited and optimistic about a new app and a gathering together online of interesting minds and interesting writing.
I spot A Place of Greater Safety on your bedside. Is this a read or to be read book? It's one of my favourites.
Thanks for great recommendations.
I just finished “ how beautiful we were” by Imbolo Mbue
I really feel this - people subscribing for the wrong reasons, the focus sometimes going so far away from the writing itself. Plus, many stacks are growing and getting so much attention for reasons other than the writing, or the writing is just downright bad but they still get huge numbers of subscribers. I guess it's fair enough - not everyone here is looking for that quality writing at the end of the day, they might be looking for something else. I'm like you though, I won't subscribe unless I genuinely like what I see and enjoy it, and I really want to focus on writers that I believe in, not just the trendy ones. Enjoy The Marriage Portrait, I read it a few months ago and quite liked it. Lessons in Chemistry was one of my favourites from last year too :)
Nice one and timely! What a fine piece to greet me as I arrive in Lima. I am with you, fellow reader, all hopeful about Substack, and then concerned in equal measure....
As always, so well written. And I hope The Book of Trespass resonates.
Now you've seen the new app, what do you think?
Feels to me, without any data to back it up, that the newsletter culture of the now is split between your traditional salesy gunk and a growing collection of people that have something to say and nowhere to put it.
The weird publications are the ones that mix in both, trying to say something meaningful and also selling ad space or influencing a product or whatever.
I have no insight here... anyways, Sam Kriss is the best.
Quality is winning through. All those people who said 'the future of writing/journalism is free' were wrong about everything.
(You've reminded me to write a popcorn hand grenade on the change from 'World of Books' to 'WOB.' I don't know why it hurts me so deeply. What dynamic, 'moving-forward' yuppie came up with that?)
Really enjoying your writing - and, no, I want nothing in return (well called out), I just feel the words resonating.
So great as always 💕
I’m more fluid with my book ownership (plus over half my reading is audio) but I do love the collection I have scattered over continents...and when I went to Powell’s Books on a trip over the pond I brought back a whole carryon 🙈 Have you been to Powell’s?
Also, if you like The Marriage Portrait, do read Hamnet (if you haven’t already); I thought Hamnet was much better actually.