Recent data revealed that 28 percent of Boomers who responded to a survey held in the United States in March 2020 were more likely to read books as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 34 percent of Gen X respondents. Millennials were the most likely to read more books to keep themselves entertained whilst self-isolating, with 40 percent saying that they were more inclined to read books, seven percent higher than all adults in total. From: “Share of adults reading books more due to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States as of March 2020, by generation,” from Statista.
Despite what we’ve been hearing in the the news lately, there seem to have been positive side-effects to self-quarantine during these strange times we’re living in. Americans are reading more books, something that took me by surprise as few of the men I see these days read books, let along have coffee table books on display on their…well, coffee tables. I find this alarming since I gravitate to a man’s bookshelf whenever I enter his home or study. Bookshelves speak volumes about a man’s taste and interest, and betray his preferences and proclivities. If you want to know someone intimately, take a look at the books lining his walls. If a man does not own any books, take a step back, excuse yourself politely, and exit the room as quickly as you can.
I once met a man who kept a library full of photography books of naked men. His collection was impressive as his shelves sagged under the weight of heavy volumes like the complete works of Tom of Finland. Tome after tome was devoted to penises, asses, aquiline noses, and sculpted muscles. Our sex that evening turned out to be impossible. It seemed he was trying to re-enact poses or fantasies he’d borrowed from looking at the photographs. I found myself put off by this man’s attempt at sublimating a sensual act and trying to turn it into something other than erotic. By evening’s end, I wanted to leave earlier and quicker than I normally would, tracing a wide circle around his neighborhood so the chances of running into him again were close to none.
I have been an avid reader since my teens. For years, I’ve lost myself in the pages of a book, swept away by stories about pirates and rouges who lived a life far different from and more interesting than mine. I’ve fallen in love countless times with men who died for honor, and my heart’s been broken many times by the pain of unrequited love. To date, reading is my favorite form of entertainment, even if I don’t do it as much or as often as I used to. Over the years, my taste in literature has changed and evolved, and today I favor stories and essays about interesting people and current events from around the world.
My favorite source for stories is The New Yorker; it is the best magazine in the country to my mind. Every evening, my manservant Clive and I sit on our divan, cover ourselves up with a blanket, and read stories about people I wish I could host in my boudoir. Occasionally I’ll have to kick Clive to silence when I hear him giggle at one of The New Yorker‘s cartoons, or slap him when his leg twitches or he needs to rearrange himself. He knows I like my room quiet when I’m reading, and that I’m easily distracted by anything shifting or moving under the covers.
For those of you wisely observing self-quarantine, below I offer some of the best articles Clive and I have shared from The New Yorker archives. From gay activist to royal couples to political heroes these are some of the best longform reads I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy while keeping myself isolated.
Larry Kramer, Public Nuisance, by Michael Specter. The man who warned America about AIDS can’t stop fighting hard—and loudly.
Toni Morrison and the Ghosts in the House, by Hilton Als. From 2003: As an editor, author, and professor, Morrison has fostered a generation of black writers.
Why the Mueller Investigation Failed, by Jeffrey Toobin. President Trump’s obstructions of justice were broader than those of Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, and the special counsel’s investigation proved it. How come the report didn’t say so?
What Fiona Hill Learned in the White House, by Adam Entous. The senior fellow at Brookings and expert on modern Russia had hoped to guide the U.S.-Russia relationship. President Trump had other ideas.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Fractured Fairy Tale, by Rebecca Mead. The abrupt separation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from the United Kingdom and its monarchy.
Unbuttoned, by David Sedaris. On wills, words, and wearing my father’s shirt.
The Refugee and the Thief, by Peter Hessler. A gay Egyptian leaves his homeland.