The Rabbit Hole, Or, How I’m Finding New Books

My in-person book browsing days are on pause right now. I’ve written previously about how have a kid forces me to use library holds more than ever because it’s hard to look around shelves while a two year old is running around between them. Even without browsing, I’m always finding new books. The internet is probably the most obvious place to find them. It’s hard not to find new, interesting books and writers online. There are also certain books that seem to push me towards others.

I don’t remember how I came across Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating by Moira Weigel, but it’s a great book. There are some critiques of the book not being naturally inclusive of non-heteronormative daters, which is mostly true, but the way Weigel redefines dating over the course of about a hundred years is still worthwhile. The fact that she is a PhD candidate made me like it even more because making academic writing accessible is so important, and she does that in her book.

Reading Labor of Love also gave me a few ideas of books to read afterwards. I love the show Sex and the City, so I’m always looking for ways to engage with the franchise. After I saw Weigel cite He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt, who was a consultant of the show’s writing, I requested it from my library right away. I finished that book in a couple hours. It was a fun little book. The intonation of the show’s writing was definitely there. As lighthearted as the book is, the message, while packaged in an extremely heteronormative way, is also actually really necessary. I wish I read it earlier.

Then I was inspired to read bell hooks’s book All About Love after Alison Doherty’s Book Riot post on it. I saw hooks’s name in the title “Helping Myself: bell hooks, the Election, and How I Overcame My Prejudice Against Self-Help Books” and clicked because anything with her name on it is getting clicked, just like headlines with my other favorites names in them like Zadie Smith or Junot Diaz. To my surprise, Doherty happens to open up with some words on He’s Just Not That Into You. She has a different experience with the book than me, but her reading of All About Love made me want to read that book as well as all the rest of hooks’s other books that I haven’t read yet.

After a while, following the story of finding books is like getting deeper and deeper in a web of literary Wikipedia pages. Being lost in the journey is part of the fun.

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Rachel Wagner: Rachel Wagner is a writer from New Jersey, currently living in Newark with her son. Her blog and more of her published writing can be found at rachel-wagner.com