Discover more from On Substack
Reading Room: Hunter Harris’s top Substack reads
Reading Room is a series with writers sharing their favorite publications to read on Substack. Any Substack writer can now endorse their peers using recommendations.
Great writers are great readers first, as the maxim goes. In this feature, we explore what Substack writers are reading by asking them for a tour of their reading list.
This week, we spoke with Hunter Harris, who writes Hung Up, a newsletter of essays, interviews, recommendations, reviews, gossip, line readings, love notes, and “cool shit” about the songs, movies, memes, and cultural takes she’s hung up on. Hunter says she was “a voracious fiction reader as a child” and continues to have an impressive list of current reads. Here, she offers a sampling of some of her favorite reads on Substack.
For more of Hunter’s finds, check out the full list of Substack publications she subscribes to in her profile.
Hi, Hunter! Can you start by describing your reading diet?
I wish I carved out more time for purely personal reading. The truth is I spend so much time reading news and nonfiction and criticism and gossiping that I don’t make a lot of time for it. For Hung Up, I try to consume a lot of everything: profiles, features, essays, criticism, blogs, stan accounts. (Honestly, stan accounts count as professional reading for me—they always know things I don’t.)
For my other job, writing on Gossip Girl, I’m reading a lot of scripts, too. It’s so hard to make a delineation of personal and professional—some reading is definitely research, but I write about things I’m genuinely interested in all the time, so I feel like I’d read it either way. Also, I’m just hugely nosy.
Describe your ideal or actual reading room. What does it look like?
If I had a reading room, or any kind of workspace, it would just have a massive desk and a big window. And a speaker—I always need to have something playing in the background. I love the way it feels when music fills up a space. I don’t even really need a bookcase or a file cabinet or anything organizational. A great big desk will do. I fantasize about it.
In reality, I do most of my work on the couch, sitting criss-cross applesauce, or in my bed. I have a breakfast table, but that’s where I do most of my emailing, not necessarily writing. Mornings are really important to me. I feel like that line from Phantom Thread: if my mornings aren’t right, it’s very hard for me to recover for the rest of the day. (Diva!) Usually that means writing in bed, showering, and then writing from the couch.
Do you remember the first writer or book that captured your attention?
I was a voracious fiction reader as a child. I think I read almost every one of Meg Cabot’s YA books. They were all about really dynamic girls, cool misfits, and I thought all those girls were so inspiring. I never felt very confident in my fiction voice; I knew I wanted to be a writer but not necessarily a novelist. It wasn’t until I started reading Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage and recaps that I could point to something and say “I want to do that.” Around that time, I started watching movies obsessively, and the movies I watched made me want to write them, too.
I never felt very confident in my fiction voice; I knew I wanted to be a writer but not necessarily a novelist. It wasn’t until I started reading Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage and recaps that I could point to something and say “I want to do that.”
Hunter’s recommended reads
Substack I’m most excited to open ASAP: I rave about Allie Jones’s Gossip Time constantly. She’s just so clear-eyed about what’s ridiculous about celebrity happenings. Most of Allie’s writing is on Gawker again, but when a new Gossip Time hits … I drop everything.
Substack I subscribed to most recently: Maya S. Cade’s Black Film Archive. I always feel anxious that I’m not watching enough, like every moment I’m not watching a movie feels wasted to me, which is a crazy thing to think. I can’t wait to dig in and add so many movies to my watch list.
First Substack I subscribed to: It was either JP Brammer’s Hola Papi or Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Molly. Those were the newsletters that introduced Substack to my inbox, and two people who were really inspiring when I decided to write a newsletter full-time.
Substack most likely to make me laugh: Babbling On. Having “random musings” should be a privilege that only Hilton Dresden can have. I literally laughed out loud at times reading their most recent post, Where There’s Smoke—like, I laughed out loud on a re-read.
Writer not on Substack who I’d like to see join Substack: Jennifer Lopez. I love her newsletter On The JLo, but the design is radically ugly and not user-friendly.
Want to help spread the word about great writers you love reading? Set up recommendations, and add publications to your profile page. You can decide which of the publications you subscribe to are displayed on your profile and to new subscribers.