For our first installment of The Read Along—the column where you get a glimpse into the reading habits of real-life writers—Kelsey Miller, columnist at Refinery29 and author of the memoir Big Girl, tells us about her occasional horoscope check (we all have vices), her serious Serial habit, and her penchant for eerie e-books when insomnia hits. Aside from having a really stellar first name, Kelsey is hilarious, big-hearted, and the kind of writer whose work feels both accessible and elevating. So many of the reviews of Big Girl focused on how likable Kelsey is as a narrator, and I can confirm that she is just as fantastic in real life as she is in writing. (I am not saying that merely to gloat about our IRL relationship, but I did want to make sure you all knew we were actual friends.) Herewith, four days in the reading life of Kelsey Miller.
Monday, February 8, 2016
First thing this morning, I got into work and read the latest on Adnan Syed’s new hearing in the Baltimore Sun—not just because I was as obsessed with the first season of Serial as any other red-blooded American podcast listener, but because I’m sort of on the Serial beat at work, so it’s my job to be obsessed with it. I wrote up the new, devastating statement from Hae Min Lee’s family (which I read on crime reporter Justin Fenton’s Twitter feed). I could get into a Whole Big Thing about my feelings on Serial being both a deeply compelling story and a fucking tragic nightmare, but there are plenty of writers who’ve said it better than I could, so you should probably go read their op-eds.
Around midday, my inbox blew up with reports about Chipotle giving away coupons for free burritos if you texted them your address and phone number. This then, naturally led to a rash of conspiracy theories about Chipotle stealing everyone’s identity or something. I read Gawker’s post on it, whilst rolling my eyes. I’m not texting Chipotle my digits, but I’m pretty sure we have greater enemies to fear than Chipotle, people.
At the end of the day I read Sarai Walker’s op-ed from Sunday’s the New York Times. I don’t know her personally, but we’re both kind of “known” in the body positive world, she more than I because of her bestselling novel Dietland. I’d naively imagined her as someone simply rolling in the glory of bestseller-dom, but the piece revealed that she got pretty shredded by the masses while promoting her book.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
I’d been asked to blurb a new book called Pen & Palate, by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen, so I took a break from Jenny Lawson (read The Rumpus’s interview with Jenny here) and jumped into the galley as soon as I got to my subway station this morning. Reading the book, they seem like very cool women I’d want to be friends with, so I’m really sweating this blurb. At the same time, being asked to blurb a book makes me feel very cool and like someone I’d want to be friends with. Does that make sense?
I’m writing a piece about getting unhealthily obsessed with fitness trackers for my column, The Anti-Diet Project, so I looked at a bunch of other stories about getting obsessed with fitness trackers. (I’m not the only one—imagine!) It was a great excuse to read David Sedaris’s 2014 New Yorker piece, “Stepping Out,” about his love affair with Fitbit. I was really stretching the definition of the word “research” in reading that one, but everyone could use a little Sedaris break in the day.
My friend and colleague Lauren Le Vine wrote one of her trademark whip-smart and funny cultural commentary pieces about a pegging scene in Deadpool. I clicked on it just to read the dirty bits but then, as ever, I got sucked in by her writing. That gal is like walking pop-culture quicksand.
For the rest of the day, I basically just avoided reading everything about Zika virus.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
I read Dirt Bag on Jezebel, which is a part of my day that I probably enjoy more than I should but IT’S MY BIRTHDAY AND I’LL DO WHAT I WANT. I read it regularly because, A) it’s legit good, funny writing that you can consume in under two minutes, and B) in my heart of hearts I am deeply devoted to celebrity gossip. I’ve been mainlining blind items and old-school Hollywood scandals since I was but a tween, and I’m thirty-two today, so I might as well own it.
Checked out a piece on concern trolling by Melissa A. Fabello and Linda Bacon. With all the hoopla over online bullying, it floors me how many people just don’t get that concern trolling is such Grade A bullshit. I could write 10k words on why but really I just need those two: It’s bullshit.
My best pal, Jonathan Parks-Ramage, recently wrote a piece for Broadly called, “What I Learned About Love & Death From Martha Stewart’s Gay Neighbor.” I had kind of already read the piece once, but it was on my phone right after I woke up. So I gave it a re-read at my desk, like an adult, because even though the headline sounds like juicy click-bait, it’s a very thoughtful (and funny and dark) story. Now I can’t stop thinking about my own mortality, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Full disclosure: My boyfriend took me to a fancypants tasting menu dinner last night for my birthday, and I now have a very fancy hangover, so I expect to be reading the literary equivalent of bacon-egg-and-cheeses all day.
There was a fun little piece on Smithsonian about the real scandals that inspired the new Coen brothers movie, Hail, Caesar! I saw the movie last weekend, and while it fell far short of its spectacular trailer, it was fun. The general thrust of this piece, though, was that the real people were (quelle surprise!) not as charming as their fictionalized characters and the studio system was utterly brutal on everyone, except Clark Gable.
If I may toot my own website’s horn, Refinery ran a great interview with Lena Dunham as part of our (Un)cover series, written by Vanessa Golembewski. Say what you will about Lena D., that gal never runs out of smarts. I swallowed this Q&A whole.
Christina Cauterucci wrote a delicious listicle on Slate in response to the new viral Twitter account featuring descriptions of female characters in screenplays. (That sounds really complicated but I’m just not explaining it well because I’m writing through a hangover.) The point is that all women in scripts are introduced in an eye-rollingly sexualized way (“dancing naked on her bed, as adorable as she is sexy”), so Cauterucci’s piece turns the tables, introducing male characters as such. For example: “A vision in brown robes that caress his shapely curves, OBI WAN strides toward LUKE.” It’s funny ’cause sexism is true!
I was planning to head home early, watch Nurse Jackie on Netflix, and be in bed by 10 p.m. But around 6 p.m., I got a call from the Refinery PR team asking if I could go tape a quick segment for Good Morning America, commenting on the body positive ads in the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. If that makes me sound very blasé and big shot-y, rest assured I spent the next forty minutes frantically shoving everything written about those ads into my head, and scurrying around the beauty department, begging for blush and hairspray and anything that might make me look “camera ready.” It went okay! At least, I don’t think I fucked it up too badly, because I made it into the segment for almost six entire seconds.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Do audiobooks count? Never mind, I just decided they do count. Anyway, I woke up in the middle of the night and listened to about twenty minutes of The Lake House by Kate Morton to try and get back to sleep. Before you get too excited, no, it’s not a novelization of that Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock movie about a time-traveling mailbox. I only just started it, but this book seems to be a mystery about a 1930s British family with a terrible secret. I’m a sucker for “terrible secret” stories when it comes to bedtime books.
I got to work and begrudgingly read about Kanye’s latest Twitter nonsense. There’s really nothing left to say about Kanye except that he could use a time-out.
I read my February horoscope from Susan Miller, which is something I usually only do around my birthday or during moments of existential dread. Miller is the only astrologer who’s ever made me almost actually believe in astrology, just because she’s frequently right about wildly specific things. Literally, she said to check my credit card statement for erroneous charges and five minutes later my boyfriend G-chatted me to say he’d accidentally made an Amazon purchase with my saved credit card info!
Yesterday, the Internet told me that scientists had proven the existence of Einstein’s gravitational waves, so now I’m hoping the Internet can explain to me what they are and why their existence matters. The Atlantic has a very comprehensive and readable piece from Sean Carroll on the phenomenon, which I mostly understood. But unless I’m mistaken, the big takeaway from this sincerely groundbreaking discovery is that the universe is still unimaginably vast and chock full of stuff we’ll likely never, ever grasp because we’re just humans with human brains. So, we get a big high five for moments like this because, really, it’s just nice to know we were right about something.