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More Titillated Than Thou, by Ann Neumann, The Baffler

Peering out from a wire rack in a grocery store was a religious vision of sorts: a paperback romance novel that neatly summed up classic yearning, confining cultural norms, and the hazards of defiled purity. At the center of all this familiar masscult longing and inner turmoil was an unlikely heroine: a young Amish woman, barefoot, clutching a suitcase, her white-bonneted head turned away from a mysterious man in the foreground. Here, plopped down in a hormonally charged set piece, was a figure straight out of the homey folk tradition known as Amish country pastoral. Though this pious woman couldn’t seem more out of place, the book is called Found ; it is the third entry in a series called The Secrets of Crittenden County. There were other books, too, in the rack—The Quilter’s Daughter, Leaving Lancaster—clearly meant to evoke the remote corner of central Pennsylvania where we were standing.

My sister and I grew up in the heart of Amish country, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We came across these curious specimens on a routine shopping trip to a rural grocery store. Like people growing up anywhere, we share a complicated relationship with the customs of our homeland, but seeing them serve as the backdrop of a faith-based fiction franchise was a blow to our hard-won sense of place. It was a bit like what many rent-strapped single women writers in New York must have felt when they first encountered long-lunching, fashion-obsessed Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City fame, or how Appalachian teens might dissect descriptions of District 12 in the Hunger Games franchise.

The Heady June Joys Of Indie Publishing, by Ben Paynter, Los Angeles Review of Books

The truth is that the best small firms get snapped up by the big ones, most of the time. Nevertheless, where companies are especially reliant on — and attuned to — their grassroots support, combining this with a taste for daring, then the material is always going to be worth checking out.

Girl Waits With Gun By Amy Stewart Review – A Marvellous Debut Mystery, by Sarah Weinman, The Guardian

This is dark material. But Stewart’s declarative, efficient sentences successfully convey an early 20th-century style without ladling florid prose on to the plot’s high drama.

Books Kept Me Alive In Prison, by Erwin James, The Guardian

The official lifting on the ban on sending books to prisoners, which comes into effect on Tuesday, finally brings to an end one of the most irrational and baffling Ministry of Justice policy decisions in recent times. When I consider my life before prison and my life after prison, the difference is so immense it’s almost immeasurable. In my heart, I know that I could not have made the changes I needed to make, to live a contributing life, without education and books.

Soul-Searching In TV Land Over The Challenges Of A New Golden Age, by John Koblin, New York Times

John Landgraf’s comments arrived like a thunderbolt.

There’s a malaise in TV these days that’s felt among executives, viewers and critics, said Mr. Landgraf, the chief executive of FX Networks. And it’s the result of one thing: There is simply too much on television.

How Eric Ripert Became A Restaurant Legend Without Working Himself To Death, by Bryant Urstadt, Bloomberg

Although he appears regularly in the media and runs a small restaurant in the Cayman Islands, called Blue by Eric Ripert, he is, for the most part, local and focused. And he’s surely leaving millions of dollars on the table. “I’ve reached my level of contentment career-wise,” he says. “I’m very happy not to expand to other restaurants.” Last fall, he did open a wine bar, just across the courtyard from Le Bernardin and connected through the basement. If it magnifies Ripert’s fame, it will be only among the serious eaters who follow him closely.