What to Read on the Subway This Week: 1/16
This holiday week, examine different perspectives: Read about one couple’s emotional wedding night, a sociologist’s foray into the world of a fashion model, a twist on a Victorian classic, and an iconic, meaningful speech.
On Your Kindle
On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan
In just over 200 pages, Ian McEwan of Atonement fame elicits a lifetime of emotions. The majority of his story spans just a few hours: the precious, highly-anticipated twilight of a young couple’s wedding night. As they prepare to have sex for the first time, Edward—who is excited—and Florence—who is nervous at best, revolted at worst—race through feelings of inadequacy, of personal passions and motivations, of the thrills and difficulties of intertwining oneself with another, and, through it all, of credible, genuine love.
The novel moves quickly, arrives at its climax, and then tumbles through years and emotions in its final, fleeting pages. It leaves the reader a little breathless, wondering exactly what just happened. For anyone who’s ever been young and in love—or not been, for that matter—this is a clever, thought-provoking, and heart-wrenching read.
On Your Smartphone
A Former Model Delves Into the Industry, by Alissa Giacobbe
Glamor. Injustice. Possibility. Disappointment. These are just some of the words that define the fashion industry and the life of a professional model. Constant attention upon celebrities like Kate Moss and Tyra Banks, coupled with shows like America’s Next Top Model and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, can make success for a model seem like a tangible, glamorous possibility.
Yet, in her new book, a byproduct of her dissertation in sociology, former model and current associate professor at Boston University Ashley Mears exposes the “real” world of a fashion model. This article draws attention in its very subject matter: The photo of Mears that accompanies it shows a woman very familiar with the lens. She holds her head beautifully erect, conspicuously not smiling at the camera, aloof and immediately interesting. Read this summary of Mears' story and her work, and get a glimpse of her new research, with its feminist bent and a unique perspective.
On a Podcast
On this, the memorial holiday of one of America’s greatest fighters for civil rights, take a moment to watch and listen to the full version of Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. If you only remember excerpts from history class, treat yourself to this complete oratory opus, replete with effective anaphora, quotes from the bill of rights, and biblical allusions, all delivered in Dr. King’s rich baritone. The video shows original black-and-white footage, panning from Dr. King standing at his microphone to the enormous crowd lining the National Mall. This is a wonderful opportunity for reflection—and one you can easily fit into your commute.
Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
This week’s column has been all about perspective: the disparate perspectives of a newly married couple sharing the same physical experience, the perspective of an “undercover” researcher, the perspective of an outsider in his own country. This novel, published in 1992, takes a classic Victorian gothic and creates an utterly new story by changing the narrative perspective. Rhys riffs on Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, writing from the point of view of Bertha Mason, Mr. Rochester’s deranged wife (with a penchant for arson) who lives in his attic.
In this novel, Bertha is born Antoinette Cosway, a wealthy Creole woman who inhabits a strange world of racism and fortune in the Caribbean. When she marries the cruel and cold Englishman Mr. Rochester (and moves to his cruel and cold homeland, so different from the lush warmth of her own), Antoinette begins to descend into madness. The prose and the plot—both unique—make this beautiful, short novel a delight.
Photo courtesy of Francisco Osorio.
Molly is The Daily Muse’s resident bookworm. She currently works in communications and is begrudgingly learning to be a grownup. She likes coffee shops and (the bakery aisle of) grocery stores, reading about other places but not necessarily traveling to them, keeping things clean, and stalking the Harvard Opportunes, her beloved college a cappella group.More from this Author