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Reading Room: Cartoonist Liza Donnelly’s top Substack reads
Reading Room is a series where writers share 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 series, we explore what Substack writers are reading by asking them for a tour of their reading list.
This week, we spoke to longtime New Yorker cartoonist and writer Liza Donnelly of Seeing Things, a publication where she shares new and unpublished drawings as well as thoughts from her creative life. Liza is the author of Very Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Women Cartoonists, and alongside writing is an avid reader. Here, she handpicks some of her current reads on Substack.
For more recommendations from Liza, you can browse the full list of Substack publications she subscribes to on her profile.
Hi, Liza! Can you start by describing your reading diet?
I am always reading at least two books at one time, maybe more. I love nonfiction because I love to learn new things, and in that realm it is often about women’s rights. But I also love to have a novel going, and my favorite type of novel is one that really takes me into a world, like historical fiction can. Professionally, I am always reading newspapers online, and a few news magazines, and then I try to keep up with graphic novels when I can. When I run, I listen to nonfiction books all the time.
Describe your ideal or actual reading room. What does it look like?
My favorite reading spot is a corner in my studio by the window. I love to hear the birds and feel nature close by. It makes me feel calm and centered.
My ideal reading spot would have a large sofa with many huge, soft pillows, and it would be the only room in a small, dedicated reading building, with lots of windows and an open, wide door overlooking the ocean! Sort of like photos I’ve seen of E.B. White’s writing studio (he didn’t have a sofa, though).
Do you remember the first writer or book that really captured your attention?
As a child, I was not a big reader: I preferred drawing. I loved A.A. Milne, and his words captured my attention, perhaps because of the drawings by E.H. Shepard that went with them, and of course I loved the silly words of Dr. Suess! But the first book that really captured my attention as a young adult was The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing. I gave copies of it to my daughters when they came of age.
Liza Donnelly’s recommended reads:
Substack most likely to make me think: Jessica Valenti’s newsletter, All in Her Head.
First Substack I subscribed to: Mary Trump’s The Good in Us. It made me want to start a newsletter!
Substack most likely to make me laugh: ToonStack! Many of my New Yorker cartoonist friends are there.
Substack that makes me feel like an intellectual giant: George Saunders’s newsletter Story Club.
Writer not on Substack who I’d like to see join: Margaret Atwood.
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