Harper Lee

The 50 Best Southern Novels Ever Written

The American South has long been seen as the focus of the country’s Civil Rights Movement, carrying with it the stigma of poverty, racism, and anti-intellectualism. Yet the region has also produced a disproportionate number of intellectuals, poets, and writers, possibly because of the complicated and layered identities each Southerner holds within him- or herself. The South has begotten some of our nation’s most important authors, including prize winners like William Styron, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Ralph Ellison, Harper Lee, and that titan of American letters, William Faulkner. These 50 novels are a reminder that the South cannot be defined solely by its failings; it is also responsible for shaping the minds of countless thinkers who offered to American literature essential insights about not only their region but the world at… Read More

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Which Books Should We Stop Calling Classics?

Recently, at Salon, Laura Miller wondered what makes a book a classic, and who gets to say which books should be included in the conversation: do booksellers or online book communities like Goodreads get to make the call? Do critics? Should we consider David Foster Wallace’s work among these classics, even though it’s so recent? Does a canon even exist or matter? … Read More

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50 Novels Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

It’s a new year, and resolutions are flying left and right. Here’s one that’s always on everyone’s mind, beginning of the year or no: how to be a better person. Well, since science keeps proving that reading literary fiction accomplishes that very fact, why not attack a novel in order to spruce up your heart and mind? Click through for 50 novels to make you kinder, cleverer, more productive, and a whole lot more open to the experience of… Read More

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The First 10 Works of Fiction You Should Read If You’ve Never Read a Book Before

Recently, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver told reporters that — while he has written more than 20 cookbooks — he had never read a whole book until recently, when he finished Suzanne Collins’s Hunter Games sequel, Catching Fire. Oliver said, “I’ve never read a book in my life, which I know sounds incredibly ignorant but I’m dyslexic and I get bored easily.” Fair enough. As a kind of thought experiment, Flavorwire has picked out the first ten books that an adult who is new to reading should pick up. Quibbles or further suggestions? Add them in the comments. … Read More

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10 Famous Literary Characters That Are Significantly Younger Than You Think

When an author creates a character, he or she bestows upon this fictional person specific attributes — age, looks, certain proclivities — that may or may not be made explicit on the page. But whether the character is explained fully or not, there’s no telling what will happen when the culture at large gets a hold of him. Especially if the notoriously age-garbling film industry gets involved. After the jump, prepare to be shocked at famous literary characters that are significantly younger than you (probably) think they are. … Read More

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The Most Ridiculous Claims Used to Challenge Classic Novels

The American Library Association has released its study of the most frequently challenged books of 2012, a list that includes classics and YA touchstones alike. But books have been challenged, banned, and removed from school curricula for years, and sometimes for the silliest of reasons. At the ALA’s website, we found a list of the justifications behind some historical challenges of classic novels, and some are frankly absurd. We’ve culled a few of our outrageous favorites from the ALA’s list — scoff or agree, but read… Read More

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10 of Pop Culture’s Most Famous Advice-Givers

Like many of you, this week we were saddened to hear of the death of Pauline Phillips, the woman behind the legendary column Dear Abby, who infused the advice column industry with some much needed spunk and tough love. To celebrate her legacy, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite advice-givers of all time, both fictional and non-fictional, but all culturally relevant. Check out our picks after the jump, and if we’ve missed your favorite mentor, add them on to our list (perhaps with a choice sage missive or two) in the comments. … Read More

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Books That Will Inspire You to Be a Better Person in 2013

The holiday season is traditionally a time for charity and warm fuzzy feelings, but sometimes we need a little extra inspiration. That is, a captivating read that will also make us want to be a better person — whether because of the sterling example of a character, some choice lines of world-wisdom, or something a little more nebulous. After the jump, try out ten books that will inspire your better self to make an appearance — we’ve veered away from self-help books of any kind, though we’ve allowed for a mix of fiction and non — and let us know if we missed your personal go-to good-guy read in the comments. … Read More

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12 Famous Authors’ Very First Author Photos

We scoured the web to pull together a few surprising, intense, and charmingly youthful author photos from some of our very favorite authors’ first works, from Truman Capote to Stephen… Read More

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Read Harper Lee's Letter to Oprah About Her Love of Books

In 2006, Harper Lee, author of American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, wrote a letter to Oprah about her experience growing up with reading: first listening to family members reading aloud, then hunting down and trading for books, and later connecting with old friends over what books they had been reading. The letter, which we… Read More

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