Whether your commute is long or short, it need never be boring. This week, explore a beautiful story of friendship between two female writers and the haunting story of an American family in Hitler’s Germany. Here are our suggestions for what to read on the subway this week.
On your kindle
As the trials of the decade continue to mount, it sometimes seems that time whirs past us, and we find ourselves elbow-deep in crises without remembering exactly how we began to wade in them. Looking back over history with the aid of hindsight, it’s easy to wonder how tragedies were ever allowed to start. This week, ponder this as you flip through the fast-turning pages of Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, the tragically true story of William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’sGermany.
Larson’s well-researched, vivid prose twists together with real quotes and facts, creating a non-fictive history that reads like a novel. Read along and watch—with Dodd—in horror as atrocities grow, as Dodd’s own family becomes seduced by the alluring power of Hitler’s Third Reich, and as the voices of those who could have offered help remain coldly silent.
On your smartphone
In celebration of amazing women, this week we turn to Kate Moses’ long-form narration of her special friendship with Diane Middlebrook, a biographer, poet, literary critic, Stanford professor, and trailblazer for smart, professional women. If your commute is on the longer side, settle into Moses’ reminiscences; in about thirty minutes, you’ll read of the beautiful friendship and business relationship the formed between two writers.
These two women bonded over their biographies, of Sylvia Plath and Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, respectively, over their love of literature, and over the femininity that linked them, what they called their “formidable, unapologetic womanhood.” In this touching piece, Moses celebrates a hero who kept learning and thriving, even on her deathbed, as a writer, a thinker, and a friend.
On a podcast
If your eyes grow weary in the mornings and you long for the childhood-days when it was so appropriate and comforting to be read to, visit Podiobooks.com and stock up on free serialized audiobooks, to which you can subscribe and listen in (commute-friendly) installments.
Register for free, and then browse books—in list form by genre, as well as highlighted staff selections—before you click and listen. An alluringly easy way to beat the Monday blues.
Inspired by Chocolate Cake For Diane, I became re-tangled this week in the unstable brilliance of Sylvia Plath. In her short life, Plath demonstrated the capability and the beautiful genius of women. Though she only lived until thirty, plagued as she was by depression, Plath underwent a frenzy of creative productivity and wrote both a collection of poetry and a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar.
Haunting in its prose and in its themes, The Bell Jar reveals the seductive world of mental illness—and the overwhelming oppression of 1960s femininity that troubles the narrator. And interestingly, it’s a female psychologist—rare in that era—who finally brings any kind of relief to that same narrator.