#70: Molly Young (New York Mag)

Molly Young on Buying Stuff on the Darknet, the Truth Behind Maraschino Cherries, Scrubby Gloves, and more.

Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Molly Young to come on Perfectly Imperfect & spread the hot rec wealth.

Molly Young is the literary critic for New York magazine and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. Every month on her READ LIKE THE WIND newsletter she drops hot book recommendations, writes a fun intro, and even takes book suggestions from her readers via this public Google Spreadsheet. When she’s not writing or reading she’s probably designing crossword puzzles for the New York Times or working on fun projects such as this Zine in collaboration with her partner Teddy Blanks. Molly has great taste and lucky for us, she’s here to talk about what she’s been into.

Without further ado

Molly Young (instagram)


Anyone who played the board game Othello as a kid will be familiar with its tagline: “A minute to learn...a lifetime to master!” I think of buying stuff on the darknet in similar but altered terms: “A lifetime to learn...impossible to master...probably reckless...but SO worth a try!” If you can use eBay you can figure it out. I like Monopoly Market. All you need is a VPN and a chunk of free time to figure out the ludicrous number of steps involved. And even if you don’t necessarily NEED a million tabs of LSD right NOW, navigating these strange corners of cyberspace is still a satisfying “skill” to learn. 

🚽 💰 THE PLAYER by Michael Tolkin

Whenever someone is like “I haven’t read a book in 5 years, what should I read?” I suggest this cult classic—because it is experientially easy but conceptually rich, and thus will effortlessly adhere to your attention and satisfy your urges. It is a Hollywood novel about an asshole (timeless genre!) who surfs the wave of power and excess until it all goes Terribly Awry. The book was published in 1988 so it is dated in fun ways but also timeless in the ways that matter. (Robert Altman made a movie of it but the book is better—which is saying a lot, because the movie rules!)


...and not letting it stop you. I haven’t been the same since I read this post, but I continue to garnish drinks with these neon accessories. 


This is a movie I’d never heard of until recently, but it seems like it should be a stone-cold classic. (Perhaps it IS—my film education is spotty.) It is about a mid-1980s era Bad Girl who loves sex and is angry and lives on the Irish seaside. You can get it on various streaming services. I’m a sucker for any piece of art about an irrepressible wench. 

good poster too!


A very fun novel about trend forecasting, art, Lexapro withdrawal, idiots, ambition, memes, and more. 


I do not feel fully clean when I emerge from a shower unless I have sandpapered a layer of skin from my whole body. For years I have ordered scrubby gloves by “the lot” and it is the only item I hoard / use daily / travel with. Gets the blood flowing. It’s also just fun and kinky to wear a single glove in the shower…

💦 🦗  🚽 ⚰️ ANATOMY OF DISGUST by William Ian Miller

The author is a renowned professor of law at the prestigious University of Michigan Law School, which I mention only because it complicates and exalts the fact that he’s also a true freak! Along with scholarly legal tomes, Miller has written a bunch of books on his passion subjects: humiliation, imposter syndrome, Icelandic bloodfeuds...and my favorite, a book that presents a unified theory of disgust. 

This book explains sex, bodies, leprosy, religion, contamination, food poisoning, why it is profoundly repulsive when a guy has soup in his beard, and more. Disgust is as much a part of daily human experience as breathing and sleeping, after all. I reread this once a year. My copy is illegible from the marginalia. Bonus: it has maybe the best book cover I’ve ever seen.


Speaking of Iceland! This is an Icelandic alcohol that tastes exactly like rye bread. The flavor is both herbal and cozy—I think of it as “upholstered vodka.” Tastes refreshing in summer and life-affirming in winter. No clue why it isn’t more popular.

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