From the Wire

Imagine Getting a Rejection Letter from Toni Morrison

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Imagine Getting a Rejection Letter from Toni Morrison

What strikes me in this piece on Toni Morrison’s rejection letters from her time as an editor is that her complaints are less about the books being rejected than the commercial, corporate, and market reasons for the rejections. This assessment feels like it could be written today: “Often, she supplements her rejections with diagnoses of an ailing publishing business, growing frustrations with unimaginative taste, the industry’s aversion to risk-taking, and her own sense of creative constraint working at a commercial press.”

Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Book Bracket

A few observations on this. First: it is wild to think about some random Fallon fan deciding to get on board with this and ends up picking up…say James by Percival Everett. What do they make of it? Are they stunned and awed? Befuddled? Delighted? Offended? I can imagine any and all reactions. Second: I was in a meeting with a book marketer last week and these sorts of celebrity book club/mainstream media pick moments came up and they said that now, just one doesn’t really move the needle. Even a pick by the biggest name doesn’t necessarily mean a difference in sales. Didn’t use to be the case. Third: in all honestly, how many of these did Fallon read? Will he ever read? If it is not many, that’s fine! This is fun! But the messaging of “featuring Jimmy’s 16 favorite books for Spring 2024” strains credulity. Third: I would read all of these.

Best-selling psychologist of ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow,’ dies at 90

Behavioral psychology, and it’s sub-branch behavioral economics, are one of the genuinely new areas of scientific inquiry that have become part of my own worldview. Thinking, Fast and Slow is tremendous, but that’s not the book I would recommend for the newly Kahneman curious. I would recommend Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project, which blends an overview of the ideas of behavioral psychology with personal and professional friendship of its two most notable exponents: Daniel Kahneman and Amos Taversky. Someday I will get my Sorkin-scripted limited series. Someday.

Historical Fiction for Your Book Club

Historical fiction is so popular, there are books about how popular it is. And if your book club likes hist-fic (or if just you yourself do. Maybe your book club hates it. That’s fine. Weird, but fine), then check out these picks for historical fiction reading that are book-club friendly.