What We Are Reading Today: Janis by Holly George-Warren

Updated 03 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Janis by Holly George-Warren

  • Her significance has been muted by the brevity of her career

Over the decades, several books have been written about Janis Joplin. 

Now comes Holly George-Warren’s masterfully researched Janis: Her Life and Music — the significance-establishing project Joplin appreciators have been waiting for. 

Her significance has been muted by the brevity of her career (she died, at 27, in 1970).

“Although the book is full of lovers and almost lovers, and music-world-familiar producers, musicians and compadres, it zeros in on Janis’s singing skill,” Sheila Weller said a review for The New York Times.

Weller said Janis “died in the motel she was staying at in Los Angeles just before her last — and biggest — solo album, Pearl, was released. She had done all of her boundary breaking by the time she was three years shy of 30.”

Janis “was a perfectionist: A passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender long before it was socially acceptable,” said a review in goodreads.com.


What We Are Reading Today: Good Form by Jesse Rosenthal

Updated 14 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Good Form by Jesse Rosenthal

  • For most, Victorian moralizing is one of the period’s least attractive and interesting qualities

What do we mean when we say that a novel’s conclusion “feels right”? How did feeling, form, and the sense of right and wrong get mixed up, during the 19th century, in the experience of reading a novel? 

Good Form argues that Victorian readers associated the feeling of narrative form — of being pulled forward to a satisfying conclusion —with inner moral experience, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

Reclaiming the work of a generation of Victorian ‘intuitionist’ philosophers who insisted that true morality consisted in being able to feel or intuit the morally good, Jesse Rosenthal shows that when Victorians discussed the moral dimensions of reading novels, they were also subtly discussing the genre’s formal properties.

For most, Victorian moralizing is one of the period’s least attractive and interesting qualities. But Good Form argues that the moral interpretation of novel experience was essential in the development of the novel form — and that this moral approach is still a fundamental, if unrecognized, part of how we understand novels.