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What to Read Next (No. 229): The Power of a Rough Draft
Happy Friday, readers!
It’s June, which means I’m already preparing my Fourth of July-themed edition of the newsletter. The holiday allows me get real nerdy about American history, so I always relish it. This year I’m diving into Thomas Jefferson’s complicated legacy with a couple Pulitzer-winning books. Stay tuned!
For today, though, I have two books — one memoir and one novel — that each get into the power of rough drafts.
What are you reading this weekend? I’d love to hear!
Rough Draft by Katy Tur
Journalism is often called “the rough draft of history.” For NBC journalist Katy Tur, that phrase has become almost an edict, compelling her to report on and record not only world events, but personal memories as well.
I really enjoyed Tur’s first memoir, Unbelievable, which chronicled her experience as a reporter on Donald Trump’s memorably insane 2016 campaign and election. (You can read that review here, as well as my interview with Katy.)
So of course when Katy asked me to read her new book, I jumped at the chance.
Here in her second memoir, Tur tells the story of her unusual and often-turbulent upbringing, her father’s well-publicized transition into being a woman, and what life has been like as a journalist — as well as a new wife and mom — in the last five years.
Tur grew up with famous journalists for parents: Bob Tur and Marika Gerrard pioneered live helicopter coverage of breaking news. Their chronicling of the ‘92 Los Angeles riots and the OJ Simpson car chase won them fame and fortune. But, as is so often the case, that didn’t translate to happiness or stability at home.
Then, just when Katy’s career was starting to take off, Bob told her that he was actually a she. Katy was supportive, but that didn’t erase the abuse of the past. The exploration of this relationship was especially interesting and nuanced.
The final chunk of the book talks about life after Unbelievable was published — how journalism has changed, the difficulties of being an ambitious working mom, and the tenuous future of our fragile nation.
Rough Draft is delightfully honest, easy to read, and surprisingly funny; Tur’s writing style is earnest, but never overly serious. It’s an easy one for me to recommend to just about anyone.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
This new book has been all over the bookish internet and Emily Henry has been on radar since 2020. She now has three runaway bestsellers in as many years and I figured it was time for me to dive into the world of rom com literature.
The premise appealed to me right away: Nora is a literary agent; Charlie is an editor. They’re both hard-edged New Yorkers who put their work ahead of . . . everything else. They end up in a rural town together for a few weeks, forced to work on a rough draft of Nora’s star client’s new book.
Last week I wrote about The Extinction Trials, which is a type of fluff read that focuses on an intense, twisty plot. I didn’t care much about the characters, but I was pretty damn curious how the story would end.
Book Lovers, and rom coms in general, are a different type of fluff that focuses on characters first and foremost, and the story functions almost as more of a setting. Most rom coms, regardless of format (page, screen, audio), follow a roughly similar story arc. And yet, we enjoy them because they speak to the universal human need for love and connection and acceptance.
It seems to me that guys don’t mind rom coms in movie form — Hitch, The Big Sick, You’ve Got Mail, Miss Congeniality, you get the idea. But for some reason, guys don’t seem to read books of the same genre.
It’s a shame, really.
Because at the end of the day, Book Lovers a lovely, feel-good rom com with all the tropes you’ve come to know and love, with a few fun non-tropey twists and turns thrown in for good measure.
That’s all for me this week. Thanks so much for the time and inbox space. I deeply appreciate it.