Herman Melville

25 Novels That Will Turn You Into an Environmentalist

Earth Day is upon us, and you know what that means: time to pick up the trash in your neighborhood, or hug a tree, or at least think a little bit about your carbon footprint. Not exactly your cup of tea? Then how about reading one of these novels (er, and two short story collections and one children’s book), each guaranteed to turn you into some kind of environmentalist, whether by scare tactics (post-apocalyptic climate nightmare!) or straight wooing (look at all these pretty plants and things!). And, we promise, none of these is as boring as Walden. Celebrate Earth Day from the comfort of your couch this year, and next year… well, who knows? … Read More

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50 Great Novels About Madness

Not so much into March Madness? Well, perhaps you should look at it another way. March is the perfect month for reading books about madness — it is a transitional time, after all, possessed of both lion and lamb. Plus, you’ll have ample reading time, both outside and inside. The books herein, it should be noted, are those that deal with a kind of literary madness — obsession and absurdity and hallucination — not directly focusing on mental illness proper, whenever the two can be separated. So you won’t find The Bell Jar or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The Yellow Wallpaper here, though those are all excellent… Read More

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50 Essential Literary Biographies

Literary biography is a hugely significant, if often overlooked, enterprise. Today, much of what we know about the authors we admire is filtered through an ocean of online mini-biographies, nearly all of which are copies of copies. The original source of an enormous amount of this information is the literary biography, and in the case of most authors, there are precious few examples of such books. Even exceedingly famous authors are gifted only a handful of quality biographies. With this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 50 essential literary… Read More

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Why Do We Still Read ‘Moby-Dick’? Melville Fans on Why It Remains Relevant

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, by Herman Melville was published in 1851. In fact, today, November 14, marks the 163rd anniversary of the novel’s first U.S. printing. It was not a blockbuster at first glance; in fact, it was out of print by the time that Melville passed away in 1891, with only about 3200 copies sold during his lifetime. It was, by any account, a literary failure. … Read More

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50 Incredible Novels Under 200 Pages

Springtime can make even the most devoted of readers a little bit antsy. After all, there are flowers to smell, puddles to jump in, fresh love to kindle. You still want to have a novel in your pocket — just maybe one that doesn’t require quite so epic an attention span. Never fear: after the jump, you will find 50 incredible novels under 200 pages (editions vary, of course, so there’s a little leeway) that are suitable for this or any… Read More

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25 Books That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About New York

Although the middle of the country is our best hope for the future of American literature, it’s impossible to deny that New York City has inspired some of our greatest writers and books. A few of them, like the ones listed here, do an especially excellent job of summing up the experience of living in this wonderful, crazy, and always-changing city. These 25 books, no matter when they came out, explore themes that will surely resonate with those of us who make our home in the five boroughs, and provide a snapshot of life here for those who… Read More

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10 Cold Weather Book and Music Pairings for Deep Thinkers

Reading a book while listening to music that relies heavily on a singer is a difficult challenge, as the lyrics that are being crooned or screamed into your ears (or both, if you’re going through Nick Cave’s discography) could interfere with your ability to soak up every word on the page. But let’s say you really want to listen to Nick Cave while you’re reading. What works best if you want to really concentrate on a book while listening to music? In honor of the current cold snap, which may well be keeping you inside with your paperback and vinyl libraries, we present a second round of suggestions. … Read More

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25 Big Novels That Are Worth Your Time

What we love about big novels is that you have to get really comfortable with them. A big page count usually equals a big chunk of time, meaning you need to be a serious reader without a fear of commitment, but with books like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Sergio de la Pava’s A Naked Singularity receiving heaps of praise and major literary awards in 2013, there is a very great chance that this year will probably see its share of great novels that tip the scales at over 500 pages. With that, we offer you this list of epic page turners that you may have missed, skipped, or just couldn’t finish the first time, because we believe that bigger can certainly be better, and these books are proof of… Read More

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50 Essential Novels for Foodies

‘Tis the season, as they say, to stuff your face. Thanksgiving, that hallowed day of highly caloric foods and oft-tempestuous family relations, is upon us. To celebrate — or just to escape the festivities for a while — why not nourish the foodie in you with some gourmand-friendly literature? Behold, a spread worthy of kings: 50 essential works of fiction to whet your appetite, and then satisfy it, and then satisfy it some… Read More

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7 Famous Lost Literary Works

On this day in 1956, while visiting the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Ernest Hemingway was alerted by the staff that he’d had two trunks stored there since the 1920s, and if he didn’t claim them, they’d be tossed in the trash. Hemingway was surprised when he claimed the luggage and found lost manuscripts and notes, some of which would eventually make up A Moveable Feast, one of the most famous literary memoirs ever. … Read More

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