In 1928, Virginia Woolf announced her intentions in her journal to take a “writer’s holiday,” a break from the heavy business of midwifing modernism to write something swift and light and pleasurable. Of course, “swift, light, and pleasurable” in Woolf-speak turned out to be Orlando—a gender-bending, time-traveling, revisionist history–cum–elaborate love letter to her lover, Vita Sackville-West—which she composed with enviable ease.
Writers today looking to take a break from their usual beat are more likely to do one of two things. To try their hand at writing for younger readers or (more frequently) to compose love letters to their dogs. We have examples of both this week on our PW Picks list: the celebrated Maile Meloy has written her first novel for younger readers, The Apothecary, out this week. And we have no less an august figure than Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times, on the topic of Scout, her spirited golden retriever. (Woolf would approve. One of her early books, Flush, is told from the point of view of her sister Vanessa’s cocker spaniel).
This week’s Tip Sheet is dedicated to reading and writing with pleasure and for pleasure. We have a reading list from Jeffrey Eugenides, a q&a with BookPeople’s children’s buyer on what the littlest readers are looking forward to, and an essay by our Gabe Habash in praise of “messy writing.”