annalisa quinn

Image: Jessica Diaz-Hurtado/NPR

In the seventh century B.C., the poet Semonides of Amorgos wrote a catalog of unmanageable women – from the yapping dogs, who won’t shut up even if you knock their teeth out, to the bee, who’s industrious, devoted and, most importantly, fertile.

Now, 3,000 years later, everything is different, and nothing is different.

In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, cultural critic Anne Helen Petersen has written her own catalog of unruly women: celebrities and other cultural figures who have been called too strong, too fat, too gross, too slutty, too old, too pregnant, too shrill, too queer, too loud and too naked for uncomplicated cultural acceptance. “Each of these women is constantly igniting the line of acceptable behavior,” she writes. “You don’t know where it is until she steps over it, at which point it bursts into flames.”

‘Too Fat, Too Slutty’ Challenges Cultural Expectations Of Women        


Photo by Emily Bogle/NPR

Our critic Annalisa QUinn says Ivanka Trump’s new book – ostensibly a business guide for women, is “a long simper of a book, full of advice so anodyne (“I believe that we each get one life and it’s up to us to live it to the fullest”), you could almost scramble the sentences and come out with something just as coherent.”

Check out her review here.

– Petra


Whoot, it’s time for #FridayReads!  I’m finally digging into Max Gladstone’s Craft series – it’s long overdue for me.

Friend of the Desk Colin Dwyer has Joseph Mitchell’s classic Up in the Old Hotel.

Boss Lady Ellen is reading Sheryl Sandberg’s latest.

Critic Annalisa Quinn is prepping her review of The Devil and Webster – check this space next week!

And Pop Culture Happy Hour producer Jessica Reedy is reading John Darnielle’s sad, surreal Universal Harvester.

How about you?

– Petra

Photo: An image of the ancient Greek poet Sappho. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Today’s top book news item (and it’s a good one):

Parts of two previously unknown poems by the Greek lyric poet Sappho have been discovered on an ancient papyrus. An anonymous collector happened to show the papyrus to the Oxford University classicist Dirk Obbink, who realized its significance. (Most of Sappho’s work has been lost, and only one of her poems has survived in its entirety.)

In an email to NPR, Margaret Williamson, a classics expert at Dartmouth College and the author of Sappho’s Immortal Daughters, said: “I don’t see much room for doubt that these are fragments of Sappho poems. They certainly sound very like her: they’re in the right meter and the right dialect, and they are prayer-hymns of a kind she often wrote, addressed to Hera and Aphrodite, goddesses worshipped on Lesbos whom she appeals to in other poems.”

Williamson added that the first poem, which mentions Sappho’s brothers, is especially remarkable. “It’s very exciting to have a new Sappho poem that isn’t about erotic love or beauty,” she writes. “Here, for a change, is a poem that seems to refer to other relationships. … We’ve had far fewer poems of this type up till now, and as a result it’s been too easy to interpret her poems as the lone cry of a woman in love, rather than looking at the cultural context these quite sophisticated poems grew out of.”


It’s a serious bumper crop of Friday Reads for y’all today!

Our pal Kat Chow at Code Switch says she’s reading books about grief, beginning with Jesmyn Ward’s searing Men We Reaped.

Her colleague Maria Paz Gutierrez has Roberto Bolano’s epic 2666.

Big Boss Edith Chapin says it’s “always good to dive into mystery stories,” so she’s got Harlan Coben’s Home.

Mama Susan Stamberg has Marilynn Preston’s All is Well. She reports, “ I avoid self-help books as if they’re written in Greek. (If they were in French I’d at least give it a try.” But, she says, Preston is funny and wise, so worth a try.

Friend of the Desk Colin Dwyer is spending another weekend with Don Quixote. Watch out for windmills!

Critic Annalisa Quinn has Letters from Klara a charming story collection by Moomintroll creator Tove Jansson.

And Arts Editor Rose Friedman has Nicole Krauss’s Forest Dark.

As for me, I’m gonna make another attempt to tackle the Giant Pile of Comics … if I’m not back on Monday, send the Mounties!

– Petra


Time for Friday Reads! Here’s what we’re working on:

Critic Annalisa Quinn: Going retro with The Count of Monte Cristo, plus The Woman in Cabin 10 because I haven’t been having nearly enough nightmares.

Blogger Colin Dwyer:Duplex by Kathryn Davis! Finally acting on repeated recommendations from a friend with immaculate taste in books. I’m jumping in with high expectations.

Producer Jessica Reedy: This weekend I plan on starting Scaachi Koul’s One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter. Alyssa Rosenberg compared Koul’s writing to Nora Ephron, so I’m VERY excited!

Tumblr-ista Petra Mayer: I’m catching up with my MASSIVE comics TBR pile, in honor of Free Comic Book Day tomorrow.

And I’m reading Ben Lerner’s 10:04. How about you??



Hooray, hooray, it’s time for Friday Reads!

Fellow Tumblrina Nicole was inspired to read The Woman Next Door after prepping author Yewande Omotoso’s interview with NPR for the web.

 Nerd victory: I convinced Friend of the Desk Colin Dwyer to pick up Ancillary Justice.

And critic Annalisa Quinn is reading Colm Toibin’s House of Names, “which is about my favorite blood-drenched Ancient Greek family, the house of Atreus.”

And I, as you can see, am wrestling with what to pick off the TBR pile. Not a bad problem to have.

Happy Friday!

– Petra

David Sedaris is great company in this new collected volume of his diaries. He buries emotions deep, but describes the world around him (and his love for IHOP) in chaotic and delightful fashion.

Critic Annalisa Quinn says, “Since many of the things he describes happen in his stories, reading Theft by Finding feels like watching a favorite play from behind the scenes, in the company of a friend who can identify what is absurd and heartbreaking and human about every person on stage.”

‘Theft By Finding’ Is As Mesmerizing As A Spinning Chicken (Trust Us)

Image: Liam James Doyle/NPR


Time for Friday Reads! Here’s what we’re working on:

Reporter  Karen Grigsby Bates: An advance copy of A Good Country by Laleh Khadivi.  Y/A novel about a totally American kid who is Muslim, and his journey from dutiful super-achiever in his Southern California family to slacker surfer dude to radicalized convert.  Fascinating.

Reporter Neda Ulaby: It’s a little random, but I‘m reading a book called Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez. Tech culture is so fascinating and so impenetrable to me – and this book looks like an extremely fun way to gather more information about  its institutions, infrastructures and mores.

Producer Jessica Reedy: I’m about a third of the way through The Hate U Give… AHHHHHHHHHHHH IT’S SO GOOOOOOOD!!!!!

Blogger Colin Dwyer: I got utterly intrigued by a set of books publicists’ mailed me. I’d never heard of Michel Leiris or his multivolume autobiographical series … but now I’m thinking I might dive into Scratches, his first one. I love Lydia Davis, too, and she did the translation. So, we shall see! All this as I continue to dip a toe in Joseph Mitchell’s stories still with reasonable regularity.

Critic Annalisa Quinn:The Tresspasser by Tana French

How about you? 


Time for Friday Reads! Here’s what we’re working on:

Executive Editor Edith Chapin: Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson. I don’t know much about all the continental Europeans who were exiled to the U.K. during WWII. It is a lesser-known part of the WWII story.

Book critic Annalisa Quinn: Still working on After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus.

Boss lady Ellen Silva: Was in the mood for Emile Zola this weekend. Pulled out my dog-eared copy of Germinal, which survived the great purge of 2012.

Producer Jessica Reedy: I’m reading a delightful YA book called Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith: What happens when an 18-year-old high school senior wins the lottery?

And I’m still reading Patti Smiths’ Just Kids. How about you??



Time for Friday Reads! Here’s what we’re working on:

Arts Editor Tom Cole: I’m reading Tim Gautreaux’s recent collection of short stories, Signals. He’s such a great writer.  Just finished one called “Radio Magic” about a guy who wants to be famous and an elderly comedienne who remembers her late son (a radio repairman) saying that sound never ends – that it keeps going out to the stars. Of course we all know that in space “no one can hear you scream,” but it’s still kind of neat to think that all of our work is sailing out toward infinity.

NPR Executive Editor Edith Chapin: Janesville: An American Story  by Amy Goldstein

NPR Founding Mother Susan Stamberg: Outline by Rachel Cusk

Blogger Colin Dwyer: Back, at long last, in Knausgaardland. Settling into an ARC of Autumn with joy.

Book critic Annalisa Quinn: I’m reading David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding: Diaries for a review next week, plus The Handmaid’s Tale for my book club.

Your turn!


Time for Friday Reads! Here’s we’re working on:

Editor Rose Friedman: A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass

Reporter Kat Chow: I just started Goodbye, Vitamin (Rachel Khong) and am halfway through Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng) which both come out later this year! The former, I’m still getting into. The latter is awesome, but that’s not surprising, because Celeste Ng is terrific.

Producer Jessica Reedy: I just started Dorree Shafrir’s new novel Startup.

Critic Annalisa Quinn: I’m reading You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman for my book club.

How about you?



We’ve got all kinds of stuff in today’s Friday Reads roundup!

I’m still gleefully working my way through Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence (what TOOK me so long? I don’t even know).

Critic Annalisa Quinn is re-reading Maurice to prepare for an exhibition of queer art at the Tate Britain.

News boss Edith Chapin is cracking Michael Auslin’s The End of the Asian Century.

PCHH producer Jessica Reedy has Alana Massey’s All the Lives I Want.

And Mama Susan Stamberg is reading the LIbrary of Congress’s illustrated history, America and the Great War.

How about you?

– Petra


Whoo, it’s our favorite time of the week – #FridayReads! I’m flaunting my ARC privilege with Vivian Shaw’s delightful Strange Practice.

Our Gal in London Annalisa Quinn is acclimatizing herself to British food with Nigel Slater’s Eating for England.

Co-Tumblrina Nicole Cohen says Killers of the Flower Moon has hooked her with its storytelling.

Big Boss Edith Chapin is reading Singapore: Unlikely Power.

And our wonderful Intern Kelli is rubbing it in that today’s her last day with Todd Parr’s The Goodbye Book. Goodbye, Intern Kelli! We’ll miss you, but we fully expect to see you pop up somewhere else in the building.

– Petra


Whoo, it’s time for #FridayReads! I’m tackling a pile of comics in preparation for a very special sooper-sekrit project launching next week – watch this space! 

Critic Annalisa Quinn is being all grown-up with The Essex Serpent, which she says has some of the best nature writing since H is for Hawk.

Mama Susan Stamberg is reading Between Them, a memoir of his parents.

And co-Tumblrista Nicole Cohen is reading about five books at once, but she says she’s finding the big 30th anniversary Where’s Waldo? volume very soothing.

How about you?

– Petra


Wheee, it’s #FridayReads!

I’m curling up this cold weekend with Gambled Away, a historical romance anthology featuring the amazing Rose Lerner (her Listen to the Moon is in this year’s Book Concierge, and deservedly so).

Friend of the Desk Colin Dwyer is discovering The Master and Margarita.

Code Switch’s Kat Chow reports she’s reading Roxane Gay’s new collection Difficult Women.

Reviewer Annalisa Quinn is enjoying an advance copy of Deb Olin Unferth’s upcoming story collection Wait Till You See Me Dance. She calls it “bitter and funny and so charming.”

And Code Switch’s Karen Grigsby Bates says she’s checking out the Book Concierge to plan her weekend reading – you can too, right here!

– Petra

Today’s top book news item:

Evie Wyld’s novel All the Birds, Singing has won the 2014 Miles Franklin award, Australia’s most important literary prize, worth 60,000 Australian dollars. This is Wyld’s third major win in a period of two weeks – the book also won the £10,000 Encore Award and was one of eight winners of the £5,000 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize.

In All the Birds, Singing, a girl named Jake tends sheep on a cold, windy British island. Something or someone begins killing off her sheep, one by one. It’s a grimly beautiful book with a strong sense of the animal world: crows that “roost in trees like unopened buds,” a dead sheep “mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapors rising from her like a steamed pudding.” (Our own Annalisa Quinn reviewed the book earlier this year.)

Wyld told The Guardian that the prize will give her room to write her next book, adding, “We’re really, really lucky in that we get to do for a living the thing that we want to do most in the world, but it doesn’t make a lot of money.”


Wheee, it’s Friday Reads!  As you read this, I’m in a car on the way to Columbus, Ohio and the World Fantasy Convention, where I plan to sit in the hotel bar all day hanging out with fabulous authors – so while I don’t know if I’ll get any reading done, hanging out with authors counts, right?

In the meantime, Code Switch’s Kat Chow reports: “I just finished THE WANGS VS THE WORLD (Jade Chang) and BEHOLD THE DREAMERS (Imbolo Mbue), which are two interesting books to read back-to-back. One could argue that they’re both varying departures of the immigrant narrative in fiction. America is ultimately not idealized; rather, the “home country” is.”

Code Switch’s Karen Grigsby Bates calls IQ “a wonderfully sly mystery set in SoCal involving a certifiably brilliant young man who is roped into trying to find a would-be contract killer.“

Friend of the Desk Colin Dwyer says “Still Ferrante” will be the name of his next band.

Reviewer Annalisa Quinn is very excited for Swing Time.

And my colleague Rose Friedman needs recommendations for books on tape – she likes to listen to them at the gym. Any suggestions?

– Petra


Time for Friday Reads! Here’s what we’re working on:

Boss Lady Ellen Silva: Finishing up Pachinko by Min Jin lee. Sprawling novel about the Japanese occupation of Korea. Gorgeous, heartbreaking and that perfect combination of personal and political. Coming out in the spring.

Critic Annalisa Quinn: I’m in the middle of Dreams from my Father and White Tears.

Producer Jessica Reedy: I just started Homesick for Another World.

Tumblrista Petra Mayer: I’m reading Ghostland.

And I’m almost done with Kathleen Collins’ beautiful/devastating story collection Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? How about you??