My family will often huddle around the computer to discuss the day’s news, or, when all that’s too much, share funny dog and cat videos.
But in recent months we’ve also been gathering at the laptop for another reason, Wordle.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to proselytize, complain or offer tips on strategy; I just wanted to share something I learned while playing the word game, which was recently purchased by the New York Times.
Wordle, in a lot of ways, is just the right game for these pandemic times of separation. You can play it alone, share your best scores on social media and be done in minutes if you’re busy. It takes less time than a board game, and it makes you feel smart for a few minutes, too.
So late last year, I’d just finished work and was going to take a short mental break to play. When one of my children asked what I was doing, I invited him to join in. The next day he suggested we do it again and looped in his sibling of it. Soon enough, it became a family thing we do together. And I love it.
It’s not that each of us can’t do it on our own, but we find we like getting together to do it. The game provides us all with a moment to see and hear each other and to work together on a project with incredibly low stakes. You find out fascinating things, such as that one kid knows more about medieval armor than you’d ever imagined or that the other has a delightfully blossoming love of wordplay.
It’s a small thing, but a comfort, and these days anything that provides some joy and peace seems like something I want to share right now.
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In the book world, we reported on the biggest award for poets and the return of a beloved LitFest, but news also broke that 88-year-old Cormac McCarthy will publish two new books this fall, “The Passenger” and “Stella Maris. ”
This reminded me of reading McCarthy’s 2006’s dystopian “The Road” back when it came out. I’d put our child down for a nap and settled in by a window to read the post-apocalyptic tale of a father and son. Every few harrowing pages, though, I’d feel unsettled and need to go check on our boy, who was, thankfully, peacefully sleeping and completely unaware of the terrifying events in the book.
Eventually, I gave in and stayed there on the floor by his bed, jumpy but unable to stop reading, all the while keeping an eye out for any of McCarthy’s terrors showing up in our neighborhood. (Spoiler alert: They did not.)
So…I guess I’m looking forward to new books by the man? Anyway, tell me what you are reading these days and we may share your picks in the newsletter.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
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Alex Segura describes a novelist who had a ‘seismic influence’ on his writing
Author Alex Segura has written comics and mysteries and he pulls together all that experience for his new novel, “Secret Identity,” out on March 15. If you haven’t read his interview with Diya Chacko, please do, and here he provides us with some extra information about what he’s reading, his biggest influence and more.
Q: What are you reading now?
I just finished Sara Gran’s “The Book of the Most Precious Substance,” a genre-bending thriller by one of my favorite writers ever. Sara’s prose is mesmerizing and she’s a treasure. Everything she writes, I’ll read. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t plug “Like a Sister” by Kellye Garrett — a stellar suspense novel. Kellye’s book is sharp, poignant, and loaded with twists.
Q: Can you recall a book that you read and thought: That was written just for me?
Michael Chabon’s early novels – “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” “Wonder Boys,” and “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” — just felt like they were created for me to consume, because they explored worlds that really interested me and were not singular in genre. “Kavalier and Clay,” in particular, was a seismic influence on my own work.
Q: Is there a person who made an impact on your reading life — a teacher, a parent, a librarian or someone else?
My high school (Miami) yearbook teacher (and now friend), Angel Menendez. He taught me that hard work and tenacity were the kind of skills that could help you no matter what. That even if you’re not the most innately gifted or talented, you could succeed and become skilled at something. It was an early lesson that writing is as much a craft as an art, and at best—it’s both.
Q: What do you find the most appealing in a book: the plot, the language, the cover, a recommendation? Do you have any examples?
I care about character. It’s where I start as a writer and what pulls me into great fiction. I also find the best nonfiction/true crime succeeds when it centers around people—their quirks, their demons, their conflict. If it’s just plot-driven with little time spent servicing people, I lose interest.
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litfest is coming
Get the scoop on Pasadena LitFest, which will feature some big names over multiple days. READ MORE
Poetry’s biggest prize
Learn more about the winners of Claremont’s 2022 Kingsley & Kate Tufts Awards. READ MORE
road to dystopia
Sarah Blake talks about wanting to bring joy even in a dark book about a serial killer. READ MORE
The week’s best sellers
The top-selling books at your local independent bookstores. READ MORE
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What’s next on ‘Bookish’
The next free Bookish event will be March 18 at 5 pm and feature writers John Cho, Wajahat Ali and Kristina Wong.
Register to watch here.