Rachel Syme is Books Editor of NPR Digital. She is the former culture editor of The Daily Beast, and has written and edited for Elle,Radar, Page Six Magazine, Jane, theNew York Observer, The Millions, and GQ.
When I hear the word "Titanic," I picture a tuxedoed Leonardo DiCaprio, waiting at the bottom of a gilded staircase while the voice of Celine Dion swells in my mind. It's all Edwardian glitz and glamour, decadence and passionate love, the kind best enjoyed in a dark theater with plenty of popcorn. And then I quickly remember that the ship sinks, and that Titanic is more than just an epic film from my youth. On April 15, a century will have passed since the ship plummeted into the icy Atlantic, and it is the tragedy we should remember, not just the mythology surrounding it.
Summer is a strange time in the publishing world — most houses are waiting to publish their marquee books in the fall, heading back to school and into the holiday season with their weighty novels and Pulitzer contenders. And yet, summer is the season of pleasure reading, when some of us have the blessed free time to make a dent in reading lists and take a new discovery to the shore, devouring it over boat drinks and freshly shucked oysters (or insert your fantasy heatwave meal here).
Last night, outside of the old Jewish synagogue on Sixth and I Streets in Washington, DC, I had my best-yet up-close encounter with a madwoman. She was middle-aged, wearing a rainbow-print top that hurt my eyes, and tinted-blue glasses. As I ran past her toward the synagogue where I was running late to hear Tina Fey read, she yelled out, "Please take me with you!"