Reading with... Jennifer Wright

photo: Timothy Kuratek

Jennifer Wright is the political editor at large for She's been published in the New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Observer, and some publications that don't have New York in their title. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband, Daniel Kibblesmith. Her new book, We Came First: Relationship Advice from Women Who Have Been There (Laurence King), imagines how history's most powerful women would approach current-day dating anxieties.

On your nightstand now:

Like everyone else in America, I'm reading The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I also just finished Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers by Sady Doyle.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Glob by John O'Reilly. According to the Kirkus review from 1952, this humorous take on evolution is "distasteful and annoying." All I can say is that it's been keeping people in my family entertained for generations, and I'd happily fight that reviewer to the death if they weren't dead already.

Your top five authors:

Margaret Atwood, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde, Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker

Book you've faked reading:

The Lord of the Rings. I tried, but my God, those little dudes spend a lot of time wandering through the woods looking at trees.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It's about a traveling group of actors and musicians crossing a post-apocalyptic U.S. in a caravan emblazoned with the quote "Survival Is Insufficient." It's a beautiful celebration of people clinging to civilization even in desperate times. The characters include those who still perform Shakespeare, a museum creator who teaches children how planes used to take off, an editor attempting to get a newspaper running once again. I like it because they're so far removed, and, I suspect, more relatable to most book lovers, than the typical hardened warriors we see in dystopias.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Great cover, great book.

Book you hid from your parents:

I seem to recall my mom let me buy the complete works of the Marquis de Sade when I was 16, so we weren't really a family that hid a lot of books. And if I didn't learn that the Marquis de Sade was a terrible writer at home, I surely would have learned it on the streets.

Book that changed your life:

Reading The Handmaid's Tale as a teenager, when I was just beginning to suspect that perhaps men and women were not treated entirely equally.

Favorite line from a book:

"Even from the abyss of horror in which we try to feel our way today, half-blind, our hearts distraught and shattered, I look up again and again to the ancient constellations that shone on my childhood, comforting myself with the inherited confidence that, some day, this relapse will appear only an interval in the eternal rhythm of progress onward and upward." --Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday

I read that line a lot these days.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Complete Works of Dorothy Parker, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I wish I could experience any of Dorothy Parker's hilarious stories again for the first time. Or, for that matter, any of Simon Rich's.

Character you most relate to:

Angel Deverell. She's the literary anti-heroine of the 1957 novel Angel by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). There's a wonderful scene where an editor offers to publish her first book providing she make some minor factual changes--women do not bleed all over the walls in childbirth, champagne is not opened with a corkscrew, a woman is unlikely to lose her virginity in a card game, etc. She proceeds to inform him that he's wrong and they can't change a single word of her precious novel. I have never received an edit where I did not first have to tamp down my Angel Deverell impulses before replying.

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