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Today’s Issue

  • “When space is scarce, and editing time horizons are comparatively long, the way we treat books better be ambitious,” writes Ann Hulbert, who has led The Atlantic’s books coverage for five years.

  • From the hundreds of books she receives every month, Ann can select only a handful to feature in the magazine. Today, she explains how she does it.


How to Write About Books

By Ann Hulbert

Most days, three or four (or more) bins of books—newly published ones and uncorrected galleys of forthcoming titles—arrive outside my office door. I’m excited, and also daunted, as I dig in. What a lot of junk! Yet also what an enticing array of books that look like serious contenders for inclusion in the print magazine—far, far too many, in fact, for the 12 or so pages that are usually available. That sounds like a problem. But the constraints are also an advantage in disguise, especially in an era when plenty of online book coverage feels hurriedly curated. Add in the deliberate pace of a monthly, and the result is an enviable challenge: When space is scarce, and editing time horizons are comparatively long, the way we treat books better be ambitious.

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