Previous: Things I'm Finding Encouraging
Next: The Rarest Fish in the World is an Anglerfish!



View count:237,290
Last sync:2022-12-28 02:45
In which John reads, worries, and drinks champagne to celebrate the release of You Are An Artist by Sarah Urist Green:
Sarah's virtual book tour (featuring me and others):

Other books discussed include:
Why Fish Don't Exist by Lulu Miller
The Cholera Years by Charles Rosenberg
Sula by Toni Morrison
The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall
Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey
Space Struck by Paige Lewis.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Listen to The Anthropocene Reviewed at
Listen to Dear Hank and John at
John: So one of the art assignments in Sarah's book, You Are an Artist, which by the way comes out today! Huzzah! Can I drink champagne on YouTube without being demonetized? Apparently, yes! So one of the assignments in Sarah's book is from the artist Nina Katchadourian, who encourages us to sort book spines into portraits of people. Ahh, that's what I needed this morning. Like, here is my portrait of Sarah, Understanding Poetry, Magic and Loss, Keeping an Eye Open, Making Art Together. And here is a self-portrait I made about the current historical moment, The Pox Party, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. By the way, I dressed up to feel like a person.  Anyway, good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. Horror abounds in every direction and today I would like to tell you about some books I have found helpful in this time, including of course, Sarah's book, which will get you sorting your library and collaborating with friends across time and space and generally engaging with the world in thoughtful and artistic ways. I'm so glad it's here at last! Sarah's virtual book tour begins tonight, more info in the doobly-doo. 
But I've also been reading much else, including another book that comes out today, Lulu Miller's stunning and brilliant and completely un-sum-up-able, Why Fish Don't Exist. I love this book so much, like if any of y'all enjoy my podcast The Anthropocene ReviewedWhy Fish Don't Exist is what The Anthropocene Reviewed wants to be when it grows up. It's simultaneously an extremely personal search for meaning, and this like, sweeping history of taxonomy and the astonishing life of Stanford University's first president, David Starr Jordan.
Another non-ficton book I've loved in these times- The Cholera Years, an analysis of the 19th-century cholera pandemics in New York City. The book is almost 60 years old, but it shows how 1832 and 2020 are not so different, at least when it comes to snake oil cures and conspiracy theories and blaming the victim for the disease instead of the structural and political failures that allowed the disease to spread.
And then there's fiction. One of the chief pleasures of middle age is getting to have extremely long-term relationships with certain books. So in hard times I often return to old favorites. I've recently re-read both Sula and The General in His Labyrinth, both of which get better every time I read them. And also they take me back to the people I was when I read those books in the past, the pretentious college sophomore, the perpetually terrified 24-year-old, the bleary-eyed new father, and so on.
I also have to recommend one YA novel I re-read to ease my anxiety- I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall, which is a survival story in which a girl has to survive alone in like the Arctic wilderness.
A lot of books I read right now feel kind of sad because like a scene will take place in a crowded McDonald's and I'll be like, oh, I remember the halcyon days of crowded McDonald's which is not something I thought I'd yearn for in my life, but here we are.
Anyway, I Am Still Alive, with its frigid Arctic hunger pangs contains absolutely none of that.
Then there's poetry, I really need poetry right now like Nicole Sealey's beautiful book Ordinary Beast, where she writes "There's a name for the animal love makes of us, named I think, like rain for the sound it makes."
And I really really need Paige Lewis' book, Space Struck. This book gives language to the overwhelming anxiety I'm feeling, as when they write "I'm the vice president of panic and the president is missing."
So Hank, that's what the vice president of panic has been reading to help me through, I'd love to know what you are reading or looking at or listening to to help you. Let me know in comments.
I hope to see lots of you at Sarah's virtual book tour in the coming days and Hank, I will see you on Friday.