Inspired | August-September 2021

Every month Every couple of months, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in August and September: unread books, the psychology of happiness, an oral history of Big Shiny Tunes, and artists vs. creators. (Links marked with ($) may be behind a paywall.)

In the New Digital Economy, Are Artists Creators? by Kyle Chayka

Yet all of these methods ignore the flawed basic premise of creatordom: that all creativity should be monetizable and monetized. The creator economy leaves little room for the kinds of projects and practices that don’t fit its preexisting digital structures — in other words, anything that doesn’t come out on a daily or weekly basis; creators who aren’t personally charismatic or willing to be parasocial targets; or material that is too challenging or specific to net the immediate embrace of an enthusiastic audience. 

If Your Book Reading Habits Are “Colorblind” and “Merit-Based,” Then Just Admit They Are White by Alyssa Shotwell: “Marginalized communities have always persisted through and found ways to express themselves, with or without the dominant group. It is normally not until influential people outside of that group decide that it can make them money before that art and work is appreciated. See cultural appropriation.”

Maybe You Can Have Too Many Books in Your TBR Pile by Molly Templeton: “There are books from just months ago that I was so excited to get and yet I keep not picking up. There are books from years ago that I categorically refuse to part with, but am I going to read them? Would it be better to let them go now, and see if they come back into my life someday in the future, when I find a given book in a store and think Yes, now is the time!?”

The Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books ($) by Daniel A. Gross: “The burst in digital borrowing has helped many readers, but it has also accelerated an unsettling trend. Books, like music and movies and TV shows, are increasingly something that libraries and readers do not own but, rather, access temporarily, from corporations that do.”

Fandom Ageism Doesn’t Make Any Sense by Julia Delbel: “And let’s keep in mind that pretty much all media that has sprouted hardcore fan communities is created and worked on by adults—often adults who have been and are fans themselves.”

Most Hollywood Writers’ Rooms Look Nothing Like America ($) by Hannah Giorgis: “Black writers who tried to work on shows that weren’t pitched to Black audiences ran into a familiar double standard: White writers could—and did—work on Black shows. But Black writers on white projects remained rare.”

Kate Bowler Interview: Why Simply Hustling Harder Won’t Help You With the Big Problems in Life by Clay Skipper: “Another great lie is, “Everything you need is already inside of you.” It’s such bullshit. Most of what you need is going to be outside of you. It’s structural justice and a community that holds you, and coming to terms with your own limitations and frailties. But you can’t sell that.”

How to be happier by consuming less by Clifton Mark: “By understanding the psychology of happiness, it might be easier to reject a lifestyle built around maximizing consumption, and reduce doing the right thing(s) to help safeguard the environment and improve your own well-being.”

But Who Tells Them What To Sing? by Adrian Daub: “And thus another Hollywood tradition was born: film choruses belting out perfectly nonsensical prose with utter conviction.”

An oral history of Big Shiny Tunes: the CD that defined a Canadian era by Jesse Locke: “Sometimes when I’m listening to the radio and they’re playing retro ’90s songs from BST, I hear the next song that appeared on the compilation in my head.”

Here’s How to Make Your Own Community Call List — and How to Use It by Olivia Bowman

It can be challenging to know who to contact when you see someone in need in your community, but don’t want to potentially escalate the situation with police presence. Sepler-King has spent hours researching, compiling, and vetting the organizations listed on Don’t Call The Police, and the site is a great place to start looking. But if no such resources exist for your city, here’s how to compile a call list of your own that you can distribute in your community.

What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?