• Booksellers across Texas are pushing back against a law requiring books to be rated based on sexual content, part of a broader wave of conservative bans and restrictions. Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth A. Harris report for the New York Times:

Many of the restrictions on books available in schools and libraries have been promoted under the banner of giving parents more choice over the content their children encounter. But the plaintiffs said that the Texas law would take decisions out of the hands of schools and parents and put the burden on vendors instead.

The law’s opponents also argue the legislation will increase the number of book bans in Texas, which already leads the country in removing books from schools, according to an analysis by the free speech organization PEN America.

  • For Charter, S. Mitra Kalita interviews attorney Leah Goodridge about the harms of “professionalism,” unpacking the workplace norms that run counter to cultivating a truly equitable environment:

And lastly, sometimes classism shows up in hiring. That could look like rejecting a job applicant because they didn’t attend an Ivy League school or because of the neighborhood they live in. I’ve heard of scenarios where concern is expressed over whether a candidate can come to work on time because they live in a far-out area (that is low-income). Yet the irony is the people making those decisions lived in affluent suburbs that were equally distanced, far-out neighborhoods (or sometimes a whole different state!). All of these markers of class may become barriers in the workplace and are not discussed enough.

  • This past spring, CUNY law student Fatima Mohammed was decried by the school’s board of trustees and attacked online for calling attention to Israel’s occupation of Palestine during her graduation speech. For the Nation, she pens an essay on standing firm in her beliefs:

Growing up, I was taught by my family and community that Palestine is the litmus test for whether you are willing to fight for justice, however unpopular the cause is. I attended rallies and protests calling for freedom and justice for Palestinians in my youth, became active in Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as an undergraduate, and led CUNY law school’s SJP chapter. The more I reckoned with how complicit the United States is in the violence Israel inflicts on Palestinians, the more I felt obliged to speak up. When another CUNY law student, Nerdeen Kiswani, was attacked by a smear campaign for speaking out in support of Palestinians, I helped organize a campaign to support her, and together we were able to bring the issue of Palestine to the forefront at CUNY Law—passing a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions resolution through student government, which was later endorsed by faculty. 

  • Journalist Amanda Petrusich writes a poignant piece in memory of Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, who passed away yesterday, and her singular, unflinching commitment to speaking truth to power. Petrusich recalls for the New Yorker:

O’Connor was never quiet about her pain, even when it would have been easier to swallow or evade it—in fact, being unapologetic about the crippling weight of certain sorrows was the defining characteristic of her work. It feels dangerous to say that it is possible to die of a broken heart, but anyone who has gone through it knows how grief can feel insurmountable sometimes. It is a violent rupture. You prepare the tourniquets, you apply pressure, you pray that you will stop bleeding before it’s too late.

My copy of “Rememberings” is still filled with Post-it notes and highlighted passages, preparations for an evening that never happened. I circled one section from the foreword twice: “I never made sense to anyone, even myself, unless I was singing. But I hope this book makes sense. If not, maybe try singing it and see if that helps.” O’Connor could be cheeky; the line feels sly. Yet it reminds me that any true attempt to understand her life requires a return to her singing.

  • Especially timely as actors and writers demand equitable pay in Hollywood, scholar Arlene Dávila explains the myraid ways that entertainment industry continues to fail Latinx actors, writers, and audiences for the New York Times:

Latinx audiences remain avid consumers of films, TV and other media, even if they don’t see themselves reflected. Some may question why media conglomerates should change and invest in original content and programming or cast Latinx actors and writers when the cheaper importation-based model is so profitable and seemingly successful. Yet they should evolve because those formulas have historically left Latinx audiences mostly untapped. There are generations of talented scriptwriters, producers and filmmakers who have been underutilized and countless rich stories and ideas that have yet to be told. Film and TV that represent the experience of Latinx communities in the United States enrich the media ecosystem by offering a more accurate representation of American demographics.

  • A “perpetual stew” gathering in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood went viral recently, now in its sixth week of cooking up community over an everchanging broth that never grows cold. Writer Ramsey Kalifeh visits the party and reports on the tradition’s history for Gothamist:

The technique of continually cooking stew dates back to medieval times and can also be found in more contemporary East Asian culture.

In “Food in History” by Reay Tannahill, which is cited on the now infamous perpetual stew Wikipedia page, medieval European cuisine incorporated a metal cauldron to continue the cooking of stew:

“The cauldron was rarely emptied out except in preparation for the meatless weeks of Lent, so that while a hare, hen or pigeon would give it a fine, meaty flavour, the taste of salted pork or cabbage would linger for days, even weeks.”

  • Begging Staples and/or OfficeMax to please lead the charge in bringing back these fun pencil sharpeners:
  • This accent roulette broke my brain (and the Lagaan reference is *chef’s kiss*):

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

Lakshmi Rivera Amin (she/her) is a writer and artist based in New York City. She currently works as Hyperallergic's editorial coordinator.