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Karaoke for shy people

Sometimes I find it difficult to keep up with my reading pile, especially now that I've inherited a coffee table so enormous it almost begs for piles and piles of magazines, books, and zines to be stacked atop it.

But I set aside some time this weekend to catch up. A few things I enjoyed. Maybe you would, too:

1. A review of Swimming in a Sea of Death, David Rieff's memoir/account of his late mother Susan Sontag's illness and death. Written by Diane Johnson and John F. Murray and published in The New York Review of Books, I'm reminded that sometimes reading a good book review can be as satisfying and engaging as reading an actual book.

2. In the same New York Review, Sarah Boxer writes an amusing (albeit too curmudgeonly at times) commentary on blogs. Anyone who finds blog culture weird, confusing, or you know, thinks it promotes certain ugly behaviors, would probably enjoy it. Plus, she awesomely refers to blogs as karaoke for shy people.

3. The latest issue of Herbivore magazine. If you're one of those people who dismisses vegans and animal rights folks for their anger and righteousness, please familiarize yourself with the sweetness that is Herbivore. It's animal rights on principle, but it focuses on the happier, friendlier, lighter side of things. The current issue's theme is Travel, and includes perspectives from Germany, Prague, Thailand, Cambodia, Tanzania, Japan, Mexico, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York City, Milwaukee, Chicago, and New Orleans.

4. The most recent issue of Other magazine (subtitle: Pop Culture and Politics for the New Outcasts). This issue is devoted to Dead Magazines, and personally I think it's their best issue yet. I particularly enjoyed Suzanne Kleid's Don't Call it an Elegy, in which she speaks with the publishers and editors of five beloved but fallen Bay-Area publications (including one of my all-time favorites, Processed World). Also excellent is Lynn Peril's piece on the original Bitch magazine – nope, not us, but The Women's Rock Newlsetter with Bite (1985-1989).

* For these last two, I think you need to get a copy of the magazines to read these pieces, but you should! They're fantastic magazines well worth supporting. Go here and here.

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