My new book, On Animals, lets me take stock of decades of work

The countdown to publication begins! In stores October 12.

In just a few days, my new book, On Animals, will be published. I’m incredibly excited. I’ve published quite a few books, but there is nothing in the world like opening a box and seeing your brand new book for the first time. It feels amazing every time, a little…


Individualism is just fine if you live on an island in the middle of nowhere

Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash

The other day, I came to a stop at an intersection a few miles from my house. The intersection is a whopper, with four wide, divided streets crossing, creating a huge starburst of concrete. As far as I know, there has never been a stoplight at this intersection. It’s controlled…


These will be my office companions until they fall apart (or I do)

Photo by Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash

I used to be friends with a writer who could only work if she was wearing her father’s plaid wool hunting shirt. I don’t know she could stand it in the middle of the summer, but that shirt was her rabbit’s foot, her lucky charm, and it somehow got her…


It’s hard to tell when you’re living in it

Photo by Kevin Butz on Unsplash

Last week, I became convinced that I was living in the worst time in history. The Texas anti-abortion law; Covid and the new variants; Afghanistan; income inequality; the January 6th insurrection; the mad QAnon surfer dad who spear-gunned his children; fires in the Southwest; Andrew Cuomo; climate change; Hurricane Ida…


Tweet, post, gram, rinse, repeat

Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

Social media is a modern-day octopus, its long suckery arms tangled up in everyday life in a way almost unimaginable just a decade ago. I noticed today that I’ve posted more than 45,000 tweets, so while I make no claims to be an expert, I am obviously a heavy user…


There’s great value in being a little ignorant

Photo by Nick Seagrave on Unsplash

The piece of advice I most often give to journalism students— which also happens to be the piece of advice that makes most journalism professors regret that they invited me to speak to their classes — is to commit yourself to being unprepared.

Allow me to explain myself. I would…


Why Covid Part 2 is exhausting

Alex Liew / Getty Images

Obviously, there are the epic defeats that Covid has delivered— thousands dead, many more thousands seriously ill, economic devastation for countless others. Covid has been unusually cruel in that way. …


The great bacon shortage ahead and why it’s a good thing

My son with our herd of Black Angus

Beware, news stories are warning, this bacon-and-egg sandwich or these baby back ribs might be your last if you live in California. The reason? In 2018, California voters passed animal welfare laws that required chicken, veal, and pork sold in the state to be raised humanely by the beginning of…


It’s the one you probably forget about all the time

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I’ve moaned and groaned here about how I sometimes wish writers needed more gear, just because I think it would be fun to have equipment and tools and stuff related to my job. Instead, all I really need is a computer, some reporters’ notebooks, pens, and index cards (the praises…


As a native Clevelander, I feel duty-bound to comment on the renaming of the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians.

  1. It’s about time.
  2. Sports teams’ names are not precious, legacy commodities. They are names of groups of people who are playing games. They are made up by humans and can be changed by humans. They do not arise naturally, organically; they are assigned and can be reassigned. …

Susan Orlean

Staff writer, The New Yorker. Author of The Library Book, The Orchid Thief, and more…Head of my very own Literati.com book club (join me!)

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