Janet Malcolm

50 Great Books About 50 Inspiring Women

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There’s never a bad time to read about historically badass ladies, but since March is Women’s History Month, now is a particularly perfect moment to bust out your library card and take in some stories of women who’ve changed art, culture, and history as we know it. Here you’ll find 50 great biographies and autobiographies of famous, fascinating, and inspiring women, from Frida Kahlo to Mina Loy to Marie …Read More

25 Writers on Fashion, Clothing, and Style

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In light of all the recent Joan Didion fetishization, it’s fascinating to visit the exhibit Didion by Wasser, now at New York’s Danziger Gallery. In a small room dedicated to Julian Wasser’s iconic shoot featuring Didion and her Corvette Stingray, you’ll find tear sheets and shots of Didion smiling, laughing, looking uncomfortable and, well, seeming like a regular person. Seeing Didion laugh made me think about what it means for writers to have personal style — whether it’s their own fashion choices or the clothing they write about. Some of our most iconic writers have turned their attention to fashion; here’s our compilation of 25 essential …Read More

10 Mysteries, Passions, and Hauntings to Obsess Over If You Like ‘Serial’

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It’s easy to be obsessed with Sarah Koenig’s podcast Serial. It’s the addictive true crime story that delves into the murder of a young woman in 1999 and her boyfriend who claims innocence, even though he was convicted. Where the obsession comes through is that Koenig — and by virtue of listening, you — is exploring the case in what feels like real-time, coming up with motives, reasonable doubt, and possible alternate histories of why Adnan Syed may be innocent. The case is being appealed in January.

But sometimes Serial takes a week off (like Thanksgiving), and even though a season two is assured — and it’s a mystery as to what it may be — this tsunami of buzz is going through the various stages, bending around to “overrated.” There’s a mystery to how it will end, but will you be happy with it, whether Adnan is exonerated or not? We wanted to give you ten other stories searching for the truth — documentaries, books, television, Instagram, even a museum — that are worthy of your obsession and your detective work.
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50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

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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.
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20 Great Biographies of Famous Authors

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There’s always something exciting about reading a literary figure’s memoir, learning the details of their personal life (those they’re willing to share, anyway) and getting a glimpse into their creative process. But it’s perhaps more illuminating to read an outsider’s account of a literary great, assembled from years of reporting and sifting through private papers. A literary biography might not be as sensational as, say, the life story of a doomed Hollywood starlet (although certainly a fair number of novelists, playwrights, and poets have lived turbulent lives), but they do offer a complete picture that shatters the fourth walls of our favorite writers’ work. Here’s a collection of great bios that accomplish just …Read More

25 Books Every Writer Should Read

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The hard work, the MFA vs. NYC debate, the negativity, the importance of a good Twitter account, the parties you have to go to, the readings you have to do, the people you should meet, the agents you need to impress — amid all the different ways writers have found to obsess over what it takes to be successful, we sometimes forget the most important thing of all: great writers need to be great readers. Of course, you can’t read everything, but once you’ve moved past the totally obvious titles, consider adding these 25 books to your TBR …Read More

8 of the Best Genre-Busting Books About Writers and Writing

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Olivia Laing’s The Trip to Echo Spring made the cover of the New York Times Book Review last week. It was a well-deserved honor for a fascinating exploration of the way drink inflects the work of a number of male writers. But it is difficult to classify, generically. It’s not quite a biography, and not quite literary criticism, and not quite memoir either. This is one of my favorite kinds of books, I should say, the kind that give you the lives of other writers embedded in a strong point of view from the writer herself, and do something more than your garden-variety kitchen-sink biography manages to achieve. Here are some books you could buy, along with Laing’s, if that formula sounds up your alley.
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