Herman Melville

10 Books That Sum Up The Contradictions of American Life

As we head towards the 237th birthday of the United States of America, last week’s news cycle and various political discussions have given us a whole new set of reasons to ponder the many contradictions that make our country the great and beautiful mess that it is. From high unemployment numbers to rampant violence to politicians arguing over our personal freedoms, there is more than enough to remind us how strange of a place America can be. While the jury is still out over whether the Great American Novel has been written or will be written, there are plenty of other books that can help us attempt to navigate through the weirdness that is… Read More

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The Books Flavorwire Staffers Read Too Early

Earlier this week, writer Matthue Roth published My First Kafka: Runaways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs, a collection of Kafka stories re-told for children. This is a brilliant idea, since anyone exposed to Kafka at a young age is likely to grow up stranger and better — even if it’s only a form of Kafka. Here at the Flavorwire office, the book sparked a few conversations about age-appropriate reading, and more than one story about a great book read too early. Some of us still have the scars. After the jump, check out the literary regrets of a selection of staffers who read the classics much too early, and then let us know which non-age-appropriate read still haunts you 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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Seafaring Must-Reads for a Swashbuckling Summer

“Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down, / ‘Twas sad as sad could be; / And we did speak only to break / The silence of the sea.” –- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge). If you’re planning on spending some time on the open water this summer — or, more likely, if you only wish you were, you’re in luck. After all, you can get a taste of sea salt air from your living room… if you choose the right book. To that end, Flavorwire asked Ethan Rutherford, whose own excellent debut collection, The Peripatetic Coffin, is a perfect nautical summer read, awash with sailboats, ships and futuristic whales, to pick his favorite seafaring reads for summer or any time. … Read More

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The Questionable Fates of Famous Authors’ Birthplaces

This week, we were surprised by the news that George Orwell’s Indian birthplace will be developed into a memorial. Why should that be so surprising, you ask? Well, because it’s not being turned into a memorial for George Orwell, but for the entirely deserving but somewhat more random Mahatma Gandhi. Though many authors’ birthplaces have been turned into museums or monuments to their lives, several have met with rather more questionable (and sometimes downright upsetting) fates. We investigate after the jump. … Read More

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10 Literary Board Games for Book Nerds

When it’s cold outside, book nerds tend to hibernate with their novels. But what about a bookish activity that’s also social (and indoors)? This week, the Paris Review pointed us towards Pride and Prejudice: The Board Game, which seems like just the ticket — if you’re a Jane Austen fan. However, what to do if you’re more of a Twainish persuasion? Never fear — we’ve collected a whole selection of board games based on novels, from fantasy to the classics, for your… Read More

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Elegant and Pithy Literary Posters for Readers

When a particular line sings, sometimes underlining just isn’t enough. We’ve come across more than one quote or literary quip that we wanted to hang on our walls, but a postcard with a scribbled phrase doesn’t have quite the same impact as Evan Robertson’s elegant literary posters. We’ve already gushed about Robertson’s work, but when My Modern Met tipped us off that he had some new posters, we just had to share them with you again. So far, Robertson has created 32 posters, and aims to make the series an even 50. As he told My Modern Met, his aim for the series is to encourage “a reconnection with great thinking. It’s a call to action to pick up a great book. And the inspiration to slow down for a bit, I hope, to enjoy the luxury of thinking about something with no practical aim.” Sounds good to us. Click through to check out a few more of our favorite posters from Robertson’s series, and then head on over to his Etsy shop to buy a print for yourself or a book-lover you love. … Read More

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10 Notorious Literary Slogs That Are Worth the Effort

There has been much discussion over the years as to whether Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is The Great American Novel, simply A Great American Novel, or is just a lengthy collection of complaints about whales (not that many people admit to thinking the latter). But if you’ve been meaning to read it for years and have never quite gotten up the nerve (or the time), an awesome marathon reading begins tonight at WORD in Greenpoint, which also happens to be one of our very favorite bookstores. To celebrate the event, we’ve put together a list of notorious literary slogs — long, difficult, and/or complicated enough to scare even the strongest reader — that are definitely worth the effort. Read our list after the jump, and add on your own favorites in the comments! … Read More

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The Seven Deadly Sins in Literature

Today marks the release of Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins, a portrait of a woman obsessed with food and the efforts (or non-efforts) of her family to get her eating under control. We can say pretty confidently that the book made us never want to overeat again, and we got to thinking about the other books that make us want to give up our vices. After all, any sin you can dream up has probably been written about, usually by someone French. After the jump, find examples of the seven deadly sins in literature (whether actually deadly or just unfortunate). Indulge in a little naughtiness-by-proxy, and then let us know which sinful characters we missed in the comments. … Read More

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