APRIL 3, 2020
CODEC: 9781478936879


I’m starting a little creative project during these times of quarantine.

I'm calling it Sheltering Stories.

Awhile back I tweeted about how nice it would be to have a shared experience during this time. A book club or a movie-watching-group or something along those lines. I have been seeing a few examples of these types of groups, in particular Zoom calls where people are getting together (and sometime even the authors are invited, like the wonderful Quarantine Book Club).

What I’m finding myself wanting to create is a space where we can all engage in a piece of art (be it book or film or essay) that feels relevant and necessary during this time — and then I want to hear what you think about it. 

I know that I’ve been finding the benefit of engaging in meaningful stories. It’s helped me to remember that our world has been through many moments of crisis before, and that sometimes these liminal moments are exactly what we need to prove the resilience of the human spirit and remind us of who we really are — or who we can become. I want to join with others and, in a gesture of togetherness, take in this type of story and talk about it.

So every Friday I’m going to tell you what I’m going to watch or read over the weekend. Then, every Sunday, I’m going to host a little conversation about it on Twitter.

So...wanna join? Give a moment of your weekend to being a part of this! Enjoy the feeling of community, even if it is the fleeting presence of a small group of people on Twitter!

WEEK 2 // APRIL 10

War Makes You an Animal from ‘Tribe’ by Sebastian Junger

The book, on humanity’s desire to build connections and modern society’s lack of them, feels very relevant right now. In fact when I first had the idea of a digital book club, this quote kept coming to mind:

The one thing that might be said for societal collapse is that — for a while at least— everyone is equal. In 1915 an earthquake killed 30,000 people in Avezzano, Italy, in less than a minute. The worst-hit areas had a mortality rate of 96 percent. The rich were killed along with the poor, and virtually everyone who survived was immediately thrust into the most basic struggle for survival: they needed food, they needed water, they needed shelter, and they needed to rescue the living and bury the dead. In that sense, plate tectonics under the town of Avezzano managed to re-create the communal conditions of our evolutionary past quite well. “An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain,” one of the survivors wrote. “The equality of all men.”

Feels a little relevant, right? What's important to me is that the stories he shared were incredibly optimistic. They inspired me to believe in our resilience instead of enabling me to give into fear.

I could use that right now. 

Read this chapter with me this weekend (extra credit if you read more, the book is fairly short), and let’s talk about it on Sunday.


‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’ by Herman Melville

When I initially asked if anyone would be interested in this type of group, my internet friend Mark Larson suggested that we start with a short story. Something that wouldn’t create an overwhelming time commitment but had rich material. I asked him for a short story recommendation, and Bartleby came to mind. I think it’s a wonderul idea! Here’s the book’s description from, uh, Amazon:

Bartleby is a kind of clerk, a copyist, "who obstinately refuses to go on doing the sort of writing demanded of him." During the spring of 1851, Melville felt similarly about his work on Moby Dick. Thus, Bartleby can be seen to represent Melville's frustration with his own situation as a writer, and the story itself is "about a writer who forsakes conventional modes because of an irresistible preoccupation with the most baffling philosophical questions." Bartleby can also be seen to represent Melville's relation to his commercial, democratic society.

A story about a worker being fed up with the systems of capitalism? About someone finding themselves unable to stop thinking about questions that are unanswerable? Seems relevant to me! And bonus: It’s available for free all over the internet due to its age. 

Picking it up now. Reading it soon. Let’s talk on Sunday.