1. “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage,” by Stephanie Coontz: As part of my wedding-season reading, I decided it was long past time that I read Coontz’s now-classic historical look at how the institution of marriage has changed in response to shifting religious norms, economic needs and gender roles. From the trivial, like the origins of chivaree celebrations, to the more substantial, including the development of the husband-as-economic-provider model after centuries of equal economic contributions to marriage, the book is absolutely vital. And read in concert with Nell Irvin Painter’s “The History of White People,” Coontz will leave readers feeling less certain of everything that is presented as permanent and unchanging.
2. “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat”: Like Fox before it, ABC is trying to boost ratings by putting more diverse shows on television this coming fall. As I work through screeners in preparation for the Television Critics Association press tour, I started with these two comedies, which have not only people of color as their main characters but also race as their subjects. I will have much more to say when the season starts, but it is awfully nice to have a couple of programs that do not treat race as untouchable in conversation.
3. “What the Theory of Disruptive Innovation Gets Wrong,” by Jill Lepore: Can something actually be disruptive if it is thoroughly institutionalized in conferences, academic programs and business practices? I do not agree with everything Lepore says here, but she has a sharp, comprehensive take on what seems to be everyone’s favorite buzz word.
4. “True Blood”: The HBO vampire drama begins its seventh season Sunday. I have not tuned in for a while, but I figured I would check out the beginning of the final season. The sex and violence remain as over-the-top and incoherent as ever, but the episodes I watched served as a valuable reminder that Deborah Ann Woll, who plays the teenaged vampire Jessica, is a lovely find. If nothing else, I hope the end of “True Blood” frees her up to do great things.
5. “Character Studies: Morello, ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ ” by Eliza Berman: I will have some thoughts on love in “Orange Is The New Black” next week, but for now, tide yourself over with this lovely little look at Lorna Morello, one of the inmates on the show. Initially characterized by her obsession with planning her wedding, we learned in the second season of the show that Morello is deceiving herself about not only the sort of ceremony she will be able to afford but her whole relationship. Berman sensitively unpacks the revelation that Morello is a dangerous stalker, and the tragedy of how little her incarceration will help her to become a more whole person.