Vital Moments

In a Celebratory Mood

For science journalist Sabrina Imbler, a book launch isn’t just about worrying whether people will turn up at the Strand, a ritual of eating cheeses and gummies, and filing stories about mice penises — it’s a mindset

We’re bracing for a barrage of holiday parties (including our own on Tuesday — if you’re reading this, you’re invited! And if you’re not reading this, you’re invited too…), so it was a good week to stay mostly home as the stuff of life (and a seeming swarm of not-so-novel viruses) coursed through the city this week.


Though they launched their new book How Far the Light Reaches on Tuesday, Defector staff writer Sabrina Imbler told The Fine Print on Wednesday that most of the day had felt pretty much like any other. “I wrote a blog for my job about these two species of grass mice, which is a kind of very small rodent, that look very similar, and even experts who study the mice can’t tell the mice apart, so they’re always looking for ways to distinguish these species without killing the mice,” they said. “One of the ways you can tell the mice apart is one of the species has a gallbladder, and the other one doesn’t. But when you’re in the field, you obviously can’t just open the mouse up. But they found that the two species of mice have slightly different penis shapes, so I wrote a blog about that.” The averageness of the day was partly the result of a deliberate strategy. “It was nice to feel like I was being productive,” they said. “I think I was scared about making the whole day leading up to the book launch, so I wanted to feel like I had accomplished something.”

Amidst all the excitement about their book, they’d moved into a new apartment, hopping from one spot in Bed Stuy to another, just before Thanksgiving, and are still adjusting to it. “Every day I wake up,” they said, “I just walk around boxes.” Before they and their partner shared a one-bedroom. “We had a nice old apartment,” they said. “We lived underneath our landlords and would often have to do little tasks for them.” But it was the size of the space that wore on them. “There was a bedroom and then another room, and we both work from home, and it was awful.” The search for a new place had taken forever, but now they’ve found a three-bedroom. “We’ve been looking for an apartment since June, and we just got rejected for a lot of places. It’s just a really hard market,” Imbler said. “But I’m so excited about this new apartment. We each have our own offices. It’s so transformative to live with someone and to not know exactly where they are at any given time. Sometimes, I can walk around the apartment and call their name. I feel like a king.”

Because the new place is so much bigger, they’ve been stocking up on new furniture. “There’s just a box containing a bed and a box containing a dresser. We’ve been receiving deliveries,” Imbler said. “So it feels like the move is over, but the move kind of continues as well.” Maybe they could have had a book launch registry? “Oh my God, I wish,” they said. “I’m jealous. I’m going to a wedding this weekend, and I was so happy to be purchasing things for this. More book launches should include registries.”

Despite the lack of a registry, Imbler’s book event at the Strand featured them in conversation with fellow science journalist Rachel E. Gross. It went off better than Imbler had expected. “It was surreal,” they said. “I was really scared that no one would show up, because, I guess, the day of an event, you get texts from people being like, ‘I’m sick,’ or like, ‘I have to work late.’ And I was like, ‘No one’s gonna be there and it’s such a big room.’ It would have been wonderful, even if it was a small crowd, but I was blown away by how many people were there and how warm the space was.” To prepare, Imbler had what they called a “pre-show ritual”: “I had two Babybel cheeses, and that was perfect because when I’m nervous I can’t eat,” they said. That wasn’t the only alimentary aspect of their book celebrations. “I bought this really big box of these Swedish gummies that are shaped like pike fish and they’re flavored elderflower. They’re really, really good,” they said. “I ordered a big box because I’m a gummy freak.”

After the event at the Strand, Gross organized drinks nearby. “I think it was supposed to be comprised of people who are in this science writers group that we’re in, but it turned out to be some of Rachel’s family, two friends who I remembered to ask to invite because they stayed till the end of the signing line,” Imbler said. “It was really, really arbitrary, but totally lovely. I felt all talked out, so I just kind of stood there and listened, which was nice. But I’m having a book party on Thursday that is my intentional space where it’s people I love, friends and writers will be there. So it felt like the post-Strand drinks was a pregame to the party.”

The Thursday party wouldn’t be the end of their celebratory mood. They have events planned with writers Rebecca Solnit and Ed Yong, but also the season is conducive to celebrations. “My birthday is always the weekend of Pride so it feels like I never really need to plan anything because there’s just all these parties happening,” they said, “and it’s funny to have a book coming out around the holidays. There are so many fun things that are planned in the coming weeks. Like, it’s my friend screening Moonstruck, but that feels like a celebration, so I think I’m coasting on other people’s plans as a way of drawing out the celebration.” They added, “I’m honestly excited to just hibernate and pivot to my next great love, which is Christmas.”


7:30 p.m. Mediabistro founder and managing director of Supernode Ventures Laurel Touby and former Inc. acting editor-in-chief Jon Fine will host a pre-holiday party at their home near Union Square.

6 p.m. We’ll have our holiday party for subscribers, sources, and friends at Floyd (131 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11201). It’s free to get in, and anyone is welcome to show up last minute. But we’d appreciate it if you’d RSVP here to give us a sense of how many people to expect. Feel free to pass this invite on to anyone you think might want to join — guests are welcome!

6 p.m. Former Thrillist travel editor Sam Eifling will host the fourth annual-ish No-Office Holiday Party at a bar in Alphabet City. “The raison d’être remains, loosely, a freelancer party, but you needn’t strictly be a freelancer to feel included,” Eifling wrote in the invite. “This gathering is for anyone who had to participate in capitalism this year without so much as a company party to salve the bruises.”

7 p.m. Parapraxis, the new magazine of psychoanalytic writing, will host a launch party for its first issue, along with n+1, which is celebrating its 44th issue, at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. “Dancing nearby to follow,” according to the flyer.


Have a moment? Let us know!