Christopher Hitchens

50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list. … Read More

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5 of the Best Literary Frenemy Pairings

Writers can be fickle and strange. One day they’re blurbing a book, the next night they’re off at some party talking trash about the author they endorsed. Some will spend their days teaching new writers, then turn around and talk about how literature is dying. Some publicly denounce writers they consider good friends, then have dinner with them the next night. The literary frenemy is a very real thing, and it’s existed for as long as what we call the “literary world.” … Read More

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The All-Time Greatest Ayn Rand Takedowns

Over the weekend, Salon published an excerpt from Chris Kluwe’s forthcoming Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, in which the author succinctly explains the problem (as he sees it) with Rand’s worldview, as manifested in John Galt. If you’re even an occasional visitor to this space, you probably know how Flavorwire feels about the creator of Objectivism. So without further ado, a collection of some of the greatest Ayn Rand takedowns in recent memory. … Read More

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15 Books That Would Make Great Last-Minute Father’s Day Gifts

Attention all slackers and ungrateful children — or, er, everyone who just hasn’t gotten around to picking up a present for their dad in advance this Father’s Day (hint: it’s Sunday). No matter what camp you’re in, Flavorwire is here to help, with a list of great books that came out in the last year that any dad is sure to like. Plus, they’re super easy to wrap. To spread the love, share the books your own dad has enjoyed in the comments. … Read More

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Required Reading List: Ron Swanson

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten,” Ralph Waldo Emerson famously quipped, “even so, they have made me.” In this bi-weekly series, Flavorwire plays professor to some of everyone’s favorite pop culture characters, assigning reading lists tailored to their temperaments or — in some cases — designed to make them into slightly better people. After all, even fictional characters can have their lives changed by books. Or so we imagine. This week, in advance of Father’s Day, a few recommendations for dad-of-your-dreams (and, apparently, father-to-be) Ron Swanson. … Read More

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Classic Books Annotated by Famous Authors

Readers come in two editions: those who write in their books, and those who don’t. No matter which you are on your own time, there’s great pleasure to be found in paging through marked-up copies of other people’s books — particularly when the original owners were famous writers themselves. Whether scribbled or printed, snide or appreciative, an author’s annotations give equal insight into the book and the reader, and double as yet another reason to buy physical books. Click through to see the marginalia in the books of a few great… Read More

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10 Famous Writers on How to Drink

This week, we read a fascinating essay by famed journalist H.L. Mencken, also known as the Sage of Baltimore, entitled “How to Drink Like a Gentleman: The Things to Do and the Things Not To, as Learned in 30 Years’ Extensive Research.” Needless to say, we learned quite a bit, and, eager for more advice on life’s finer things from literary types, we’ve collected a few quotes from famous writers on how to drink. Pick up some tips after the jump, and if we’ve missed your favorite missive, add it to our list in the comments. … Read More

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The 25 Greatest Essay Collections of All Time

This week marks the release of Aleksandar Hemon’s excellent book of personal essays, The Book of My Lives, which we loved, and which we’re convinced deserves a place in the literary canon. To that end, we were inspired to put together our list of the greatest essay collections of all time, from the classic to the contemporary, from the personal to the critical. In making our choices, we’ve steered away from posthumous omnibuses and multi-author compilations, and given what might be undue weight to our favorite writers (as one does). Click through to see our nominations for the 25 greatest essay collections of all… Read More

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12 Great Videos of Famous Authors Giving Advice to Aspiring Writers

We could all use a little advice — especially the aspiring writers among us. Inspired by a delightful (and actually sincere-seeming!) video from John Hodgman that surfaced last week, we’ve rounded up a collection of videos of famous authors, from Anne Rice to Martin Amis, doling out wisdom essential for readers and writers alike. Set aside the next hour to get a healthy dose of writerly inspiration, and link us to any videos we missed in the comments! … Read More

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10 of the Most Divisive Authors in Recent History

Recently, we stumbled upon an article over at Open Letters Monthly that asked, “Is Cormac McCarthy a Terrible Writer?” The author, Rohan Maitzen, discusses McCarthy’s particular prose style in The Road, which has been celebrated by some and roundly reviled by others. We’ve always been interested in the idea that many of the greatest writers also seem to have the most detractors, so to explore further, we’ve rounded up a few of the most divisive authors in recent… Read More

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