Well hello there, and welcome to Issue #76! Please welcome new subscribers Karolina, Sarah, Eric, Alicia, Lynn, S, and Pwh. (Extras is blowing up!) This issue is about reading and resistance. Hope that’s OK with you! In this time of upheaval and uncertainty, where things d
Well hello there, and welcome to Issue #76! Please welcome new subscribers Karolina, Sarah, Eric, Alicia, Lynn, S, and Pwh. (Extras is blowing up!) This issue is about reading and resistance. Hope that’s OK with you! In this time of upheaval and uncertainty, where things don’t make sense, reading is making a comeback. The first three articles offer various perspectives on the role of reading — and may encourage you to read an additional article or book or two!
Then, after a journalism break, enjoy two excellent pieces about resistance. The first chronicles the life and imprisonment of Albert Woodfox, an original member of the Black Panther Party. The second introduces us to new activists in San Francisco.
This time that we’re in requires more reading, and more reflection, and more community, and more collaboration. Thank you, loyal subscribers, for making Extras part of your life!
Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows and “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” writes this ode to reading. Mr. Carr suggests that reading is not just for appreciation (like Michel de Montaigne argues), and it’s not just for transformation (like Ralph Waldo Emerson argues). When it comes to fiction in particular, reading is for dreaming — that we enact in our mind what we see on the page. That dreaming, Mr. Carr suggests, is what builds empathy as well as a new course for our own lives. (Also: Mr. Carr doesn’t like e-readers.)
Many of you have seen this interview of President Barack Obama on books — it was in the New York Times, plus it was shared around and around — but it’s still important to include it in Extras this week, the day before inauguration. If more of us read, our president suggests, we would be better. (Check out the comments, too, where readers criticize Mr. Obama for buying e-books on the Kindle instead of physical books.)
Right now I’m reading Will Schwalbe’s latest book, Books for Living, and it’s pretty good. Mr. Schwalbe is entirely energetic and enthusiastic about books — as in, way more than I am! Here he is talking (for about 9 minutes) about the role of books in his life. Mr. Schwalbe is the author of “The Need to Read” (from Extras #70), which you need to read. He likes asking questions like “What are you reading?” and “What are books for?” And he likes Stuart Little, by E.B. White.
How Albert Woodfox, Original Member of the Black Panther Party, Survived Solitary for More Than 40 Years
Albert Woodfox is an original Black Panther Party member who spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement before his recent release from prison. This brilliant article by Rachel Aviv details how Mr. Woodfox joined the BPP, how he got arrested, and how he spent his time in prison. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and a solid history of the Party. (If you live in the Bay Area, please check out “All Power to the People,” an excellent exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, which runs through February.)
Too many schools prepare young people for their futures, rather than engaging them immediately in the important work that needs to be done. This article profiles the activist work of students at Leadership High School in San Francisco, where I taught for 12 years. It is heartwarming to know that the school, its staff, and its students are leading the charge and taking leadership for that which matters most (and receiving criticism from conservative media).
Thank you for reading Extras #76! Possible thing #1 to do right now: Reply to this email (it’s very easy!) and tell me which article you liked the best, and why. (Or, as an alternative, reply to this email telling me why you just want to read Extras and care not to reply.) Possible thing #2 to do right now: Help me rename Iserotope Extras to something fancier. Email me a few ideas! Possible thing #3 to do right now: Share this issue with a friend and say how much they should subscribe. Have a wonderful week, and see you next Thursday at 9:10 am!