121 episodes

Book clubs are stressful. Join Article Club, a community of kind readers. We discuss one great article every month on race, education, or culture.

articleclub.substack.com

Article Club Mark Isero

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 24 Ratings

Book clubs are stressful. Join Article Club, a community of kind readers. We discuss one great article every month on race, education, or culture.

articleclub.substack.com

    #435: “There’s this splitting of the self.”

    #435: “There’s this splitting of the self.”

    Welcome, new subscribers, and welcome back, loyal readers! I’m happy you’re here.
    Today’s issue is dedicated to an interview with Jonathan Escoffery, the author of “In Flux,” March’s article of the month.
    First published in Passages North, “In Flux” is a short story about race, identity, and the dreaded question, “What are you?” It’s about Blackness, belonging, and the main character Trelawny’s struggle to figure out where he fits in.
    Mr. Escoffery writes:
    I was interested in what complications an American-born boy of Jamaican parentage, and of African and European descent, presenting, to some degree, as racially ambiguous, might find in claiming a neat, pre-packaged identity, and how the competing attitudes—the contradictory denials and affirmations—held by those within his various communities might further complicate this, and how shifting geographic and class locations would complicate this even further.
    🎙️ I warmly invite you to join our discussion of “In Flux” on Sunday, March 24, 2:00 - 3:30 pm PT. We’ll meet on Zoom. It’d be wonderful to have you there.
    Alongside fellow Article Clubber Sarai Bordeaux, I got a chance to interview Mr. Escoffery last week. It was an honor. We discussed a number of topics, including:
    * the shame the main character feels as a result of having his identity questioned
    * the use of the second person point of view and its impact on the reader
    * the messiness of identity and our society’s disdain for nuance and complexity
    Most of all, I appreciated Mr. Escoffery’s thoughtfulness and introspection. It was clear that he does not settle for simple answers, especially when it comes to issues of race. Listening to Mr. Escoffery got me to want to re-read his piece. It encouraged me to share his piece with my colleagues at school. (Our students would appreciate it, I’m certain.) And it made me excited to discuss his piece with you.
    🙋🏽 Before you go: It’s time for a poll!
    I’m thinking about making some changes to this newsletter, based on what you’re appreciating and finding valuable. I’d love to hear from you.
    Thank you for reading and listening to this week’s issue. Hope you liked it. 😀
    To our 6 new subscribers — including Jiaway, Amit, Ryan, Teghan, and Maria — I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. To our long-time subscribers (Zaretta! Zachary! Zaden!), you’re pretty great, too. Loyal reader Gregg, thank you for sharing the newsletter and getting the word out.
    If you like Article Club, please help it grow. I really appreciate your support. Here are two ways you can help out:
    ❤️ Become a paid subscriber, like Vanessa (thank you). If you’ve subscribed for free for a long time, and you appreciate the articles and author interviews, or if you’ve joined one or more discussions, I encourage you to take the leap. You’ll join an esteemed group of readers who value the mission of Article Club. Plus you’ll receive surprise perks and prizes. It’s $5 a month or $36 a year.
    📬 Invite your friends to subscribe. Know someone who’s kind, thoughtful, and loves to read? I’d love it if you encouraged them to subscribe. Word of mouth is by far the best way to strengthen our reading community. Thank you for spreading the word.
    On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please feel free to unsubscribe below. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit articleclub.substack.com/subscribe

    • 16 min
    #427: “It’s the inequality of higher education that makes me mad.”

    #427: “It’s the inequality of higher education that makes me mad.”

    Welcome, new subscribers, and welcome back, loyal readers! I’m happy you’re here.
    Today’s issue is dedicated to an interview with Paul Tough, the author of “Saying No to College,” January’s article of the month.
    Published in The New York Times Magazine last September, the piece explains the significant shift in Americans’ views on the value of college over the past decade. Whereas in 2010, when nearly all families wanted their children to attend college, now only half do. And 45 percent of Gen Z says a high school diploma is sufficient to “ensure financial security.”
    What explains this trend — this darkening mood about college? Two things, Mr. Tough explains:
    * There’s a difference between the college wage premium and the college wealth premium. In other words, you’ll make more money if you graduate from college. But that doesn’t mean you’ll become more well-off.
    * Going to college is a little like going to a casino. If you graduate, you’re largely good (unless you pay full price at NYU and get a Humanities degree). But if you drop out, and you’ve got debt — that’s another story.
    There’s much more in the article, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so — and to join our discussion if you’re intrigued. We’re meeting on January 28 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm PT.
    I got a chance to interview Mr. Tough (again!) last week, and it was an honor. If you’re a long-time subscriber, you know that Mr. Tough helped get Article Club off the ground. Back in February 2020, he shared his thoughts on “Getting an A,” a chapter from his book, The Inequality Machine. He was generous and thoughtful then. Nothing has changed.
    About our conversation: I won’t give everything away, because it’s better to listen, but we discussed a number of topics, including:
    * how there’s a major disconnect between “college experts” and regular American families on the value of higher education
    * how this piece required a different kind of reporting and approach to writing
    * how giving college advice to young people is way more complicated than it used to be
    * how even though there’s “something really wrong in higher education,” our country is doomed if this current trend continues
    Most of all, it became abundantly clear in our conversation that Mr. Tough knows what he’s talking about and knows how to write. Most of all, I appreciate his clarity and compassion. Especially if you’re a student, parent, or educator, this is an article that is worth your time and attention.
    Thank you for reading this week’s issue. Hope you liked it. 😀
    To our 6 new subscribers — including Scott, Hoa, Sammy, Amimul, and Kevin — I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. To our long-time subscribers (Quincy! Quinn! Quince!), you’re pretty great, too. Loyal reader Wayne, thank you for sharing the newsletter and getting the word out.
    If you like Article Club, please help it grow. I really appreciate your support. Here are two ways you can help out:
    ❤️ Become a paid subscriber, like Molly (thank you). If you’ve subscribed for free for a long time, and you appreciate the articles and author interviews, or if you’ve joined one or more discussions, I encourage you to take the leap. You’ll join an esteemed group of readers who value the mission of Article Club. Plus you’ll receive surprise perks and prizes. It’s $5 a month or $36 a year.
    📬 Invite your friends to subscribe. Know someone who’s kind, thoughtful, and loves to read? I’d love it if you encouraged them to subscribe. Word of mouth is by far the best way to strengthen our reading community. Thank you for spreading the word.
    On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please feel free to unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get

    • 30 min
    Reflection and gratitude

    Reflection and gratitude

    Dear Loyal Readers,
    Hope you’re having a relaxing (and reading-heavy) end of the year.
    I’ll be back next Thursday to reveal our January article of the month. It’s going to be a good one, and I urge you to join our discussion.
    Until then, I welcome you to listen to Article Club’s first-ever end-of-year podcast reflection episode, in which Melinda and I discuss some highlights from 2023 and what’s coming up in the new year.
    Among other things, we chat about:
    * our favorite articles of the year (can you guess?)
    * our favorite moments from our monthly discussions
    * what we’re looking forward to in 2024 (will Roxane Gay be joining us?)
    * how Melinda is going to read Middlemarch
    To listen: Hit the play button up top or add Article Club to your favorite podcast player.
    In the episode, Melinda and I also share our deep appreciation of our reading community here at Article Club. In other words: This means you.
    Thank you for subscribing, reading the articles, listening to author interviews, joining the discussions, and sharing your perspectives.
    Thank you for being thoughtful and kind.
    As we head into 2024 — which will no doubt be a roller coaster — I’m reminded that authentic connection does not come easily. True empathy does not come easily. What we continue to build here is special. In fact, in this clip, Melinda calls it magical.

    Thank you again, and see you in the New Year!
    Mark


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit articleclub.substack.com/subscribe

    • 22 min
    #420: “You find out about your life in bits and pieces.”

    #420: “You find out about your life in bits and pieces.”

    Welcome, new subscribers, and welcome back, loyal readers! I’m happy you’re here.
    ⭐️ Before we get started: If you live near Oakland, join me and fellow Article Clubbers at an in-person gathering on Thursday, Nov. 30, at Room 389, beginning at 5:30 pm. It’s a great way to connect with other thoughtful readers and chat about the articles. It’d be wonderful to see you. Here’s more info and where you can get your free ticket.
    Today’s issue is dedicated to an interview with Larissa MacFarquhar, the author of “The Fog: Living in Adoption’s Emotional Aftermath,” November’s article of the month.
    Originally published in The New Yorker in April, the piece profiles three adoptees who have come out of “the fog,” or the denial of the trauma of being adopted. Not all adoptees have mixed or negative emotions, but many do.
    They seek their birth parents but are lied to; they can’t obtain their original birth certificates; they’re told they should be happy they’re adopted when their feelings are complicated; they find the adoption system corrupt; they feel like they’re living a double life, estranged from the person they really are.
    By focusing on the lives of Deanna, Joy, and Angela, the article also discusses the history and problems of three categories of adoption: invisible (or closed) adoptions, transracial adoptions, and international adoptions.
    If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so — and to join our discussion on December 3, if you’re moved.
    I got a chance to interview Ms. MacFarquhar last Friday, and it was an honor. I won’t give everything away, because it’s better to listen, but we discussed a number of topics, including:
    * how Ms. MacFarquhar became interested in adoption after exploring the problems of the foster care system
    * how being adopted is a profoundly different way of being human than growing up with one’s biological family
    * how many adoptees feel they’re not real, that their stories are scrambled, that their identities are disorientating, and that they learn about themselves bit by bit
    * how although adoption is sometimes the best outcome for a child, our society should be more supportive of birth parents who love and want to keep their kids
    Most of all, it became abundantly clear in our conversation that Ms. MacFarquhar is a thoughtful reporter and writer. Her approach to profiling is exquisite; she tells her subjects’ stories directly and with compassion. And no matter your background knowledge on adoption, and no matter your lived experience, this is an article that is worth your time and attention.
    Thank you for listening to this week’s episode. Hope you liked it. 😀
    To our 3 new subscribers — including Jennifer and Bernice — I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. To our long-time subscribers (Hunter! Hudson! Hakeem!), you’re pretty great, too. Loyal reader Naya, thank you for sharing the newsletter and getting the word out.
    If you like Article Club, please help it grow. I really appreciate your support. Here are two ways you can help out:
    ❤️ Become a paid subscriber, like Christopher (thank you). If you’ve subscribed for free for a long time, and you appreciate the articles and author interviews, or if you’ve joined one or more discussions, I encourage you to take the leap. You’ll join an esteemed group of readers who value the mission of Article Club. Plus you’ll receive surprise perks and prizes. It’s $5 a month or $36 a year.
    📬 Invite your friends to subscribe. Know someone who’s kind, thoughtful, and loves to read? I’d love it if you encouraged them to subscribe. Word of mouth is by far the best way to strengthen our reading community. Thank you for spreading the word.
    On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please feel free to unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other su

    • 25 min
    #415: “How do you take in the harm that you‘ve caused?”

    #415: “How do you take in the harm that you‘ve caused?”

    Welcome, new subscribers, and welcome back, loyal readers! I’m happy you’re here.
    Today’s issue is dedicated to an interview with Dashka Slater, the author of “The Instagram Account that Shattered a California High School,” October’s article of the month.
    Originally published in The New York Times Magazine in August, the piece explores a racist social media account created at a Bay Area high school in 2017 and its repercussions on young people and their community. The piece also raises the question: What does accountability really mean?
    If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so — and to join our discussion on October 29, if you’re moved.
    I got a chance to interview Ms. Slater a few weeks back with fellow Article Clubber Melinda. It was an honor. I won’t give everything away, because it’s better to listen, but we discussed a number of topics, including:
    * how edgy humor is a premium in boy culture, how it causes harm, and how masculinity is contested terrority right now
    * how even in progressive places like the Bay Area, we think of accountability as punishment — that justice is balancing out the pain someone else has caused
    * how kids have a strong sense of justice, and how they want to do the right thing, but that they need guidance from their teachers and parents
    * how we as adults often don’t know what we’re doing, and how our own emotions get in the way of supporting our children
    Most of all, it became abundantly clear in our conversation that Ms. Slater is a thoughtful and compassionate reporter and writer. She sees nuance and complexity. She doesn’t throw anyone under the bus. She gets to know people and writes with a ton of empathy. But this is not to say that Ms. Slater is wishy-washy or doesn’t have strong feelings about what happened at Albany High School. She does. She just understands that healing does not come via punishment.
    One of the hardest things for anybody, any human, is to take a breath and say, I don’t know. And I think that was really lacking in Albany and in most places in a time of crisis, because everybody’s having emotions and they want immediate action. And as a result, there was a lot of action that wasn‘t very well informed with all the dynamics that it took me five years to reconstruct.
    So I always say, the first thing is don‘t rush. Because there‘s a lot that you don‘t know. And the more you talk, the less you‘re listening in general. I think the other piece for adults is to not become the story. We often forget in our relationships with young people that we are not the story, and our job is to be teachers, coaches, mentors. We are supposed to assist.
    Thank you for reading this week’s issue. Hope you liked it. 😀
    To our 7 new subscribers — including Dave, Janina, Anna, Shoshana, and Kerry — I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. To our long-time subscribers (Lauri! Lori! Larry!), you’re pretty great, too. Loyal reader Quan, thank you for sharing the newsletter and getting the word out.
    ❤️ If you like Article Club, I encourage you to become a paid subscriber. If you’ve subscribed for free for a long time, and you appreciate the articles and author interviews, and if you’ve joined one or more discussions, I encourage you to take the plunge. You’ll join an esteemed group of readers who value the mission of Article Club. Plus you’ll receive personal audio letters, invites to events, and other perks and prizes. It costs $5 a month or $36 a year.
    On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please feel free to unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit articleclub.substack.com/subscribe

    • 24 min
    #411: “The World Belongs to the Young”

    #411: “The World Belongs to the Young”

    Welcome, new subscribers, and welcome back, loyal readers! I’m happy you’re here.
    Today’s issue is dedicated to an interview with Daniel Duane, the author of “A Tale of Paradise, Parking Lots, and My Mother's Berkeley Backyard,” September’s article of the month.
    Originally published in The New York Times Magazine in May, the piece explores the housing crisis in the Bay Area and the fears that emerge alongside the inevitability of change. If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so — and join our discussion on September 24, if you’re moved.
    I got a chance to interview Mr. Duane a few weeks back, and it was an honor. I won’t give everything away, because it’s better to listen, but we discussed a number of topics, including:
    * his fond memories of growing up in Berkeley
    * his relationship with his mom, who was a radical activist in the 1960s, but who now feels scared about the changes coming to her neighborhood
    * how the NIMBY / YIMBY debate could benefit from some compassion and nuance
    Most of all, it became abundantly clear in our conversation that Mr. Duane is nostalgic but also does not find nostalgia useful. After all, we need more housing, he argues, even if that means having to make sacrifices for the common good. Sometimes, that sacrifice means realizing our time has come, that the world belongs to the young, that it’s time to let go.
    At one point, when I was asking myself, Well, what is this story really about for me? I had sort of a moment of thinking about it as like, It‘s about the fact that the world belongs to the young, and it hurts when you find out that you’re no longer one of them. And that moment comes for everyone.
    Thank you for reading this week’s issue. Hope you liked it. 😀
    To our 10 new subscribers — including Sonia, Abigail, and Charles — I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. To our long-time subscribers (Kristen! Kristin! Krystyn!), you’re pretty great, too. Loyal reader Paul, thank you for sharing the newsletter and getting the word out.
    If you like Article Club, please help it grow. I really appreciate your support. Here are two ways you can help out:
    ❤️ Become a paid subscriber, like Opal (thank you). If you’ve subscribed for free for a long time, and you appreciate the articles and author interviews, and if you’ve joined one or more discussions, I encourage you to take the leap. You’ll join an esteemed group of readers who value the mission of Article Club. Plus you’ll receive surprise perks and prizes. It’s $5 a month or $36 a year.
    📬 Invite your friends to subscribe. Know someone who’s kind, thoughtful, and loves to read? I’d love it if you encouraged them to subscribe. Word of mouth is by far the best way to strengthen our reading community. Thank you for spreading the word.
    On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please feel free to unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit articleclub.substack.com/subscribe

    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

ireneisc ,

Outstanding interviews

I like the articles and I like listening to the interviews even more.

shrevemath ,

Great interviews and thoughtful interviewer!

My favorite part about this podcast is listening to Mark’s interviews with the members of Article Club. They are all very thoughtful people, and they inspire me to read more. I wish these conversations would become a more regular part of the show!

jjgams ,

Great podcast for educators!

What I like most about The Highlighter Article Club podcast is that it connects me with well-written articles that expand my thinking. I don’t have time to scour the Internet for the best writing out there, but Mark does, and he finds the most thoughtful authors to be in conversation. I am proud to be part of Article Club!

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