I realize in retrospect that one of the thoughts in the back of my mind when I started Book Post was of my own relatives, especially of the parental generation. They checked novels out of the library, read big biographies and popular history, but they didn’t subscribe to the weeklies or the monthlies and wouldn’t have considered themselves part of the mediasphere by any stretch. (Now they wouldn’t follow journalism Twitter, or probably Twitter at all.) They would often ask me, half-indulgently, what they should read, and it was so hard to know where to begin, though being a book review editor I would seem a good candidate for such a question. No, I’d think. My job is helping you find the books for you.
As I watched the elections of recent years unfold, book reviews disappear from local newspapers and local newspapers themselves disappear, there seemed to be a bigger and bigger gulf between the people who followed and investigated books in a deliberate way and everyone else—though lots of those other people were reading books, giving them as presents, joining book groups. How to link these two worlds together? How to make something about the world of books that would fit neatly into the day of the non-media-professional? Hence Book Post.
I know I have not 100-percent arrived at the formula. A lot of what we do here follows my own passions and those of my friends and the people I admire; I am still pretty remote from a lot of the concerns of people who don’t spend their days thinking about, say, Sergio De La Pava. There are lots of things I wish I were covering more. But I am working on it! And I wonder if there might not be some mothers out there, particularly mothers of kids who pursue bookish interests, who might welcome a jaunt like this through the life. Perhaps your very own mother!
With this thought in mind, we made a special discount Book Post subscription for Mother’s Day, but there’s one glitch: our platform Substack doesn’t have a way to apply a discount to the “Give a Gift” mechanism. So, you can get a discounted Mother’s Day subscription to Book Post here, and just put your mother’s email address into the box and explain when the “welcome” shows up in her in-box that it is a present from you, or you can give us the couple extra bucks (Lord knows we need them) and go full-fare on a gift subscription, which can be scheduled in advance and includes an explanatory note. (Hell, I’ll write to your mother and tell her it’s a present from you if you want! Just ask me: email@example.com.) Sorry about that!
When I think about it, if my kid gave me a present that made some attempt to explain what’s going on in his world, well, there’s something I’d like. And maybe the memory of reading together is a primally comforting one for many of us kids/parents.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who are and have mothers. I used to dislike these made-up holidays, but now that I am an actual mother I take anything I can get. Remembering that the day was originally meant to advocate for the abolition of war, perhaps we mothers can take our moment of sustenance and put it to use. Arise, all women who have hearts!
Illustration: Sofia Kolovskaya