You keep using that word

A close look at the origins and evolution of the word “meritocracy,” and the politics that our language reveals.


On The Sixth Extinction and The Once and Future World

The Once and Future World

J.B. MacKinnon

MacKinnon calls for a “rewilding,” bringing the wild back into our lives rather than carving out a separate place for it. A compelling and beautiful read.

The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert

From frogs to bats to megafauna and the Great Barrier Reef, Kolbert’s tale is a terrifying and fascinating travelogue.

Young’s 1958 treatise introduced the word “meritocracy” into the lexicon, something he himself would later regret.


Nicola Griffith

From the scant historical record of Hild of Whitby, Griffith spins an extraordinary story of a girl who learns to navigate the world of kings and thegns.


A responsive redesign.

Hall’s contribution to the unstoppable (yes, I’m biased) A Book Apart list is both an instructive reference and a critical corrective.

Newitz first dives into the history of evolution and extinction, looking at how past species have survived (or not) and what we can learn from them; then she projects a fascinating and divergent vision of humanity millions of years from now.

Mumbai New York Scranton

Tamara Shopsin

Shopsin writes in short, present-tense sentences. Frequent paragraph breaks are separated by empty lines. Many pages stop short. In the hands of someone less genuine, the effect would be gimmicky, but Shopsin is as real as it gets.


Garret Keizer

Keizer’s approach to the topic of privacy is more philosophical than policy: you won’t find solutions to the problems of data mining or warrantless wiretaps within, but you will be prompted to think hard about privacy and its many contexts.

The Chairs Are Where the People Go

Misha Glouberman & Sheila Heti

A unique collaboration between Misha Glouberman—a performer and artist—and his friend—the writer Sheila Heti—results in this charming and instructive collection of parables.

In the Blink of an Eye

Walter Murch

Murch’s brief collection of essays (they were originally lectures) was first published in 1995, and refreshed in 2001 with new attention to digital editing.


On What Is Reading For?