november required reading
For Royalty-Obsessed Anglophiles, Proud Progressives, and General YA Fantasy Fans
I got into The Queen of the Tearling series because of an old rumor which read something like: Emma Watson has signed on to star in and executive produce the movie adaption of this series, even though she said she’d never do another young adult blockbuster franchise. I figured if it was good enough for Emma, it’s good enough for me. (I was right.)
The Tearling series one of the best I’ve read in a long time, maybe ever. The main character, Kelsea, is loosely inspired by Elizabeth I and President Obama, two of the world leaders I admire most. She relatably navigates coming into adulthood while also realistically navigating the struggles of being a woman called to lead.
More than any of the secondary romantic or familial plots, I love the way Kelsea dwells on the relationship of history to the present and future wellbeing of her country. How do you govern and regulate people you love; how do you allow freedom of economy and society while protecting citizens and immigrants alike? She meditates on inequality and socialism, a deeply divided and lost people, and destructively self-absorbed family members and fellow rulers. Yes, it’s fantasy, but doesn’t most of that sound familiar?
For Anti-Fascist Lessons in Rearing Good Offspring
The Little Virtues really stung me in the place I’m told a heart is meant to be. Italian writer and sage Natalia Ginzburg writes heart-wrenching essays straight into your tangled up little brain and if you’re a good student you absorb them, harness them, and cherish the time you spent together on the page. Whether she’s eulogizing England for being boring enough to hurt, or emphasizing the importance in teaching the great virtues (among them: courage, an indifference to money, and a love of truth), Ginzburg offers an invitation through this under-appreciated 110 page guide as if extending a perfectly warm hand. Why not go in for the shake?
For My (And Your) Fascination With 90s True Hollywood Stories
This Oral History of the making of 1997’s Cinderella starring Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston (and Bernadette Peters!). From inception to release, this piece details every painstaking fight to get a blindly-cast Cinderella adaptation on screen. The entire read is a delight chalked with your daily dose of nineties nostalgia and for the most part steers clear of naming names that caused problems (BUT COME ON, GIVE US SOMETHING). One of my favorite anecdotes involved Whoopi Goldberg (the Queen here and in life) refusing to wear fake jewelry and instead insisting on the production using her connection at Harry Winston to deck out the royal jewel set. In Whoopi’s words: “Why not?”