Avidly Reads is a series of short books about how culture makes us feel. Founded in 2012 by Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle, Avidly—an online magazine supported by the Los Angeles Review of Books—specializes in short-form critical essays devoted to thinking and feeling. Avidly Reads is an exciting new series featuring books that are part memoir, part cultural criticism, each bringing to life the author’s emotional relationship to a cultural artifact or experience. Avidly Reads invites us to explore the surprising pleasures and obstacles of everyday life.
“It is a truth too rarely acknowledged that there is nothing better than being both smart and fun: how lucky for us, then, that Avidly Reads books are both. To delve into them is to engage new ideas without having to sacrifice pleasure for knowledge, or feeling for thinking.”—Naomi Fry, staff writer at the New Yorker
by Eric Thurm
Writer and critic Eric Thurm digs deep into his own experience as a board game enthusiast to explore the emotional and social rules that games create and reveal, telling a series of stories about a pastime that is also about relationships. From the outdated gender roles in Life and Mystery Date to the cutthroat, capitalist priorities of Monopoly and its socialist counterpart, Class Struggle, Thurm thinks through his ongoing rivalries with his siblings and ponders the ways games both upset and enforce hierarchies and relationships—from the familial to the geopolitical. Like sitting down at the table for family game night, Board Games is an engaging book of twists and turns, trivia, and nostalgia.
by Kathryn Bond Stockton
Mid-kiss, do you ever wonder who you are, who you’re kissing, and where it’s leading? It can feel luscious, libidinal, friendly, but are we trying to make out something through our kissing? For Kathryn Bond Stockton, making out is a prism through which to look at the cultural and political forces of our world: race, economics, childhood, books, movies. Making Out is Stockton’s memoir about a non-binary childhood before that idea existed in her world. We think about kissing as we accompany Stockton to the bedroom, to the closet, to the playground, to the movies, and to solitary moments with a book, the ultimate source of pleasure.
by Jordan Alexander Stein
As an avowed “theory head,” Jordan Alexander Stein confronts a contradiction: that the abstract, and often frustrating rigors of theory also produced a sense of pride and identity for him and his friends: an idea of how to be and a way to live. Although Stein explains what theory is, this is not an introduction or a how-to. Organized around five ways that theory makes us feel—silly, stupid, sexy, seething and stuck—Stein travels back to the late nineties to tell a story of coming of age at a particular moment and to measure how that moment lives on now.
Sarah Mesle, University of Southern California
Sarah Blackwood, Pace University