This & That: January 10, 2023
Happy Tuesday, readers!
It’s been such a delight to see your warm response to Sunday’s post, which celebrated 5 years of this newsletter.
Towards the bottom of that email, I included a poll asking what kinds of features you’d like to see more of. By far the #1 response was more book lists and links! I already had most of this piece queued up (I had a hunch about how the poll would go), so I figured we might as well get right to it and try some things out. 😀
Moving forward, this Tuesday email will be for paid subscribers only. For $5/month, you’ll not only be thanking me, but also getting weekly links, product recommendations, book lists, hot takes from my wife (Jane) and 7-year-old son, and more:
Let me know what you think!
Something I’m Thinking About
Though I don’t have any real plan of attack for my ‘23 reading, I’ve nonetheless been thinking about what I want my reading year to look like. Last year, my reading was about 55% fiction, 45% non-fiction.
This year, I’d love to lean even more towards the fiction side. Particularly, I’m interested in stories that aren’t in the realm of realistic fiction. Science-fiction, fantasy, thriller/horror — stuff that gets me out of here and now.
Here’s the deal: 2022 was hard. Our third kid is way harder than the first two, Jane went back to work (which was actually a really exciting decision, but still definitely a stressor), and we had unexpected house guests for a handful of weeks over the holidays. The theme for 2023 that Jane and I immediately agreed on: less.
In terms of reading, that means: a little less history, a little less realistic/modernist fiction (which is so often loaded with unlikable characters and too-realistic trauma), and more titles that are literally out of this world. What are some of your SFF (sci-fi/fantasy) favorites? I’d love to hear your recs!
Recommendation of the Week: Breville Coffee Grinder
I had a Cuisinart coffee grinder for years. I went through two units of the same model and although it was always a bit loud and shaky, I didn’t have many complaints with it.
Turns out, I didn’t realize what I was missing out on!
Jane bought me this lovely grinder from Breville for Christmas, and I’m thrilled with it. It’s quiet, fast, precise, and looks really nice on the countertop. If you’re a coffee nerd, this thing will up your game big-time.
Bookish Story That Caught My Eye
Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, is all the rage in publishing right now.
What’s actually more interesting to me than the book, though, is the ghostwriter who wrote it: J. R. Moehringer. He’s one of the most talented but under-recognized writers in the biz. He has a highly acclaimed memoir and work of historical fiction published under his own name, as well as two ghostwritten memoirs, Andre Agassi’s Open and Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog.
Though this NY Times profile has Moehringer at the center, it goes beyond that into the larger, secretive world of ghostwriting. (This is a NY Times gift link, which means you don’t need a subscription to read it.)
The Mini List: Waco
There’s a trio of major books coming this winter/spring about David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and what happened 30 years ago in Waco. It’s always a bit curious when multiple books around a single topic are published in close succession, but it’s less surprising when there's an anniversary, which can be used to drum up attention and sales.
Jeff Guinn is the biggest name of the bunch, but I’ll be curious to see how they stack up in a few months’ time:
Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and A Legacy of Rage by Jeff Guinn — I’ve already read this one and it’s fantastic. There’s no one out there who writes about cult leaders like Guinn does.
Waco Rising: David Koresh, the FBI, and the Birth of America's Modern Militias by Kevin Cook — At we’ll under 300 pages (and surely a sizable notes/index section), I’ll be curious to see how thorough this book is. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means the writing has to be laser-focused. This one is on my Kindle, so you’ll find out soon enough!
Koresh: The True Story of David Koresh and the Tragedy at Waco by Stephan Talty — This one claims to offer the fullest context and most comprehensive myth-busting of Koresh and the events at Waco. We’ll see!
Thanks so much for the time and attention — I deeply appreciate it.