Reading Room: Parker Molloy’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 our recommendations feature.
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 Parker Molloy, who writes The Present Age, a publication about communication in a hyperconnected world. Parker is a Chicago-based writer who was editor-at-large at Media Matters for America and writes about culture, technology, politics, sports, and LGBTQ issues for outlets such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, and Vice. Parker is also an avid reader—both “terminally online” for work and a big fan of comics and graphic novels for fun. Here, she handpicks some of her current reads on Substack.
For more recommendations from Parker, you can browse the full list of Substack publications she subscribes to on her profile.
Hi, Parker! Can you start by describing your reading diet?
I spend most of my day reading. I’ll begin each morning by scrolling through the top stories in the Apple News app before making my way to that morning’s New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press stories. For work, I’ll sometimes fire up my newspapers.com subscription or check out the online resources from the Chicago Public Library. As far as actual books are concerned, I always make a point of going through anything that’s been sent to me by a friend or acquaintance first, then venturing out and buying books for fun. My favorite things to read are comic books and graphic novels, which make up a pretty sizable portion of my “fun” reading time. If you break it down by time, it’s a pretty even split between what I read for work and what I read for enjoyment.
Describe your ideal and actual reading room. What do they look like?
When reading for fun, I love to get curled up on an old green chair in the corner of my living room. The space has great natural light and it’s just big enough for my dogs, Tater Tot and Casserole, to join me should they feel inclined to do so. It’s separate from my upstairs office, which helps me put physical space between the “work” and “fun” portions of my day.
My ideal reading spot would actually be pretty similar to what I have, with the addition of a fireplace, a nicer and more supportive chair, and slightly better soundproofing against the outside world. For now, though, this is wonderful.
Do you remember the first writer or book that really captured your attention?
It wasn’t until college that I actually started reading for fun. I read a lot, but it was always something I considered to be “work.”
A friend lent me a copy of Burn Collector, by Al Burian, and so much about how I thought about the written word changed. It was sloppy, it was messy, and it contained embarrassingly earnest anecdotes about loneliness and a search for meaning.
I remember reading that and checking out some of his other work (like his Things Are Meaning Less comic or the records put out by his bands Milemarker and Challenger) and just feeling inspired to think a bit about my own life and my own existence. I don’t know how well any of it holds up, but it was definitely one of the sparks that helped inspire me to get into zines and comics, which have inspired my own slapdash, raw writing style.
Parker Molloy’s recommended reads:
Substack I’m most excited to open ASAP: Rusty Foster’s Today in Tabs is an essential daily read for anyone interested in keeping up with the happenings of the internet. I consider myself terminally online, yet there are always a handful of stories in each edition of Today in Tabs that I missed as they happened. The same goes for Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci’s Embedded, which is great for keeping up with online trends, memes, and general internet-related content.
Substack I recommend to friends most often: I really love Nick Offerman’s Donkey Thoughts newsletter. There’s writing, there’s video, there’s photography! It’s a great use of the medium. I’d also like to recommend his recent book, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play. It’s a great book filled with anecdotes about life and nature.
Substack I subscribed to most recently: I recently signed up for prompt/response by Guy Parsons. I’ve been really fascinated by all of the new and exciting recent advances in the world of artificial-intelligence-based content creation and the collaborative potential for writers and artists to use this technology to build new multimedia content. After reading Parsons’s fantastic DALLᐧE 2 Prompt Book, subscribing to prompt/response was a no-brainer.
Substack most likely to make me think: Chris Geidner’s Law Dork newsletter is pretty new, but has quickly become one of my favorite newsletters to check out. I’ve loved Chris’s work dating back to his time at BuzzFeed and even his original Law Dork blog back in the mid-’00s. The current composition of the Supreme Court has made this a really complicated and scary moment in history for many, but his newsletter helps explain exactly what’s happening in an accessible way.
Writer not on Substack who I’d like to see join Substack: Margaret Sullivan is one of my favorite media writers, but sadly, her Washington Post column just came to an end. I know she has a bunch of stuff happening right now (a book coming out this fall and will be teaching at Duke), so I’m not sure whether she actually has time to add a newsletter to the mix. Still, I’d subscribe in a heartbeat.
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