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What Writers and Editors Are Reading: June 2023

Get a glimpse inside your favorite writers’ Pockets to learn about their favorite recent reads—and why you might enjoy them too.

Pocket Collections

Read when you’ve got time to spare.

Once a month at Pocket, we ask our favorite writers and editors to share their good taste and discerning reading habits. They tell us the best pieces—both new and old—they read last month, and we share them with you. Think of it as a group chat with writers you love, swapping links to great pieces and notes on why they loved them.

Past editions have covered parenting in the age of diet culture, a mother’s love of poker, people who get away with doing nothing at work, among other topics. In June’s edition, stories explore sexting among teens, a literary breakup, a 1980s Texas murder, and more.

Image by Afry Harvy / Getty Images

A Mother’s Exchange for Her Daughter’s Future

Jiayang Fan
The New Yorker

“Love stories are everywhere, but Jiayang Fan’s essay about her relationship with her mother, who died last year after a prolonged battle with ALS, is wholly unique and gutting. Through anecdotes spanning countries, religions, and even toilet seats, Fan conveys their bond as one of reciprocated, if at times excruciating, sacrifice—of total dependence to endure forces beyond their control. As Fan describes it: ‘One creature, disassembled into two bodies.’” - Benjamin Cassidy

Everyone in Stephenville Thought They Knew Who Killed Susan Woods

Bryan Burrough
Texas Monthly

Recommended by Lauren Larson: “This story from Texas Monthly, also available as a podcast, exemplifies the magazine’s long tradition of elevated true crime with a strong sense of place (Stephenville, Texas, in the 1980s, when nobody would hire a man with long hair). It’s also a parable about quick judgments. In this case, townspeople decided a man had brutally murdered his wife (he had long hair, you see). The misdirection allowed the real killer to run amok, ruining—as we learn from a manuscript he left behind in his trailer—at least two more women’s lives.”

Read Lauren’s piece “Apocalypse Sow: Can Anything Stop the Feral Hog Invasion?,” which was recommended in our April writers’ round-up.

My Literary Breakup

Elisabeth Åsbrink
The Dial

Recommended by Derek Robertson: “It seems difficult to be friends with a poet. Here the Swedish writer Elisabeth Åsbrink recounts her friendship with the controversial playwright Lars Norén—but you don’t have to know anything about Swedish literary esoterica to understand this funny, humane, sad account of how two people can simultaneously repel and love each other so deeply.”

Read Derek’s piece “‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Is America’s Cry for Help,” which featured in Pocket’s collection of stories that lived rent-free in our heads last year.

When Teens Send Nudes

Gail Cornwall
The Nation

Recommended by the author: “Now that a huge number of tweens and teens are engaging in sexual messaging, it’s time for schools and parents to move beyond a DARE-esque approach. ‘Just say no to sexting’ doesn’t just not work; it also puts counterproductive focus on creation rather than violation, and, in practice, is often anti-feminist. With the help of more than a dozen experts and as many adolescents, my piece asks, ‘What does a good replacement for deviance and danger messaging look like?’ You won’t think about teens, nudes, and schools the same.”

Read “Stop Venting! It Doesn’t Work.” by Gail and Juli Fraga which featured in Pocket’s best great advice articles of 2022.

Sidelined From Academia, India’s Dalits Archive Caste History

Vidhi Doshi

Recommended by Amruta Byatnal: “The stories we hear most often about Dalits are those of injustice and discrimination. In this sensitively reported story, we meet Dalits—formerly known as untouchables who are at the bottom of the caste hierarchy—who are doing something that might not seen extraordinary at first. They are chronicling the life of India’s pioneering Dalit rights campaigner B.R. Ambedkar. However, the very fact that they are Dalits means they are excluded from mainstream publishing and academia. By combing home collections to build their own archives, these Dalits are reclaiming their own history.”

Read Context’s latest collection on Pocket, “How Europe Remains Divided on LGBTQ+ Rights This Pride Month”.