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Finding Non-Fiction Reads on Twitter

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Jessica Yang

Staff Writer

Jessica grew up in Silicon Valley, yet somehow ended up rather inept at technology. She dreams of reading luxurious novels all day in a greenhouse, and is guilty of writing puns for money. Majoring in Japanese and English literature made her both wary and weary of the Western canon. She can be bribed with milk tea. Follow her on Twitter @jamteayang.

Remember way back in the day when Twitter first became a thing, and everyone was convinced that this was the end of literacy? What is the world coming to? How can anyone say anything intelligent in 140 characters? And so on. The laments were great in number.

Of course, the dire prophecies didn’t come true. Twitter has problems (cough harrassment cough), but hurting literacy isn’t one of them. Ironically, scrolling through an endless stream of tweets has made me read more, not less. I’ve never been fond of non-fiction — there’s no dragons! — but being on Twitter has made me finally give non-fiction a try.

What usually happens: I’m jumping around on Twitter, reading about politics and succulents, when I end up on someone’s profile. They’re funny, they’re insightful, and oh hey, they wrote a book! Neat.

Bad Feminist by Roxane GayFirst came Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (@rgay). Her tweets are half slice-of-life and half heartbreaking reflection. Her book contains a series of essays that examine feminism through a real world lens. I’ll deny it if you ask me in person, but I may have cried a few times reading her writing — the social media and book kind.

Then I started following Luvvie Ajayi (@Luvvie) for her Game of Thrones summaries. I gave up watching Game of Thrones ages ago, but I’m still invested, so Luvvie’s laugh-out-loud summaries kept me in the know. Naturally, I had to give her book I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual a try. It was the perfect dose of advice, pop culture commentary, and sharp analysis of race representation.

When the election revved up earlier in the year, I got into the habit of scouring Twitter for political insights on the whole mess. In retrospect, maybe I should have gone outside and found a dog to pet.

Somehow, after long nTrainwreck by Sady Doyleights of clicking around, I ended up reading Sady Doyle’s (@sadydoyle) pointed destruction of sexist nonsense. That’s how I ended up picking up Sady Doyle’s book Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why.

After a rec from my sister, I started following St. Louis writer Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior), just in time to read her clear-eyed but incredibly grim analysis of the election. Buckling down to read her essays in The View From Flyover Country is high on my priority list.

And now that the election is over, I’m stocking up on funny reads as well. During the presidential debates, I lived for Alexandra Petri’s (@petridishes) livetweets and satiric debate recaps. I’m planning on grabbing A Field Guide to Awkward Silences the first chance I get. I need the laughs. We all do.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible at reading non-fiction. I get antsy, even when I’m reading something incredible, and I start thinking about dinner. But it all works out great. When I get restless, I just keep reading… on Twitter.