What We Are Reading Today: Janis by Holly George-Warren

Updated 03 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Janis by Holly George-Warren

  • Her significance has been muted by the brevity of her career

Over the decades, several books have been written about Janis Joplin. 

Now comes Holly George-Warren’s masterfully researched Janis: Her Life and Music — the significance-establishing project Joplin appreciators have been waiting for. 

Her significance has been muted by the brevity of her career (she died, at 27, in 1970).

“Although the book is full of lovers and almost lovers, and music-world-familiar producers, musicians and compadres, it zeros in on Janis’s singing skill,” Sheila Weller said a review for The New York Times.

Weller said Janis “died in the motel she was staying at in Los Angeles just before her last — and biggest — solo album, Pearl, was released. She had done all of her boundary breaking by the time she was three years shy of 30.”

Janis “was a perfectionist: A passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender long before it was socially acceptable,” said a review in goodreads.com.


What We Are Reading Today: Spinoza’s Ethics by Benedictus de Spinoza

Updated 29 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Spinoza’s Ethics by Benedictus de Spinoza

In 1856, Marian Evans completed her translation of Benedict de Spinoza’s Ethics while living in Berlin with the philosopher and critic George Henry Lewes. This would have become the first edition of Spinoza’s controversial masterpiece in English, but the translation remained unpublished because of a disagreement between Lewes and the publisher. Later that year, Evans turned to fiction writing, and by 1859 she had published her first novel under the pseudonym George Eliot. This splendid edition makes Eliot’s translation of the Ethics available to today’s readers while also tracing Eliot’s deep engagement with Spinoza both before and after she wrote the novels that established her as one of English literature’s greatest writers, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Clare Carlisle’s introduction places Ethics in its 17th-century context and explains its key philosophical claims. She discusses George Eliot’s intellectual formation, her interest in Spinoza, the circumstances of her translation of Ethics, and the influence of Spinoza’s ideas on her literary work.