Pitched between the beach reads of June and July and the high literary controversies of autumn, the month of August is often little more than a break in the literary calendar. But this year publishers have perked up a bit, electing to release a combination of rediscovered classics and high-quality debut …Read More
If there’s one thing that every human on this earth has in common, it is that, at some point, we will have to deal with death. And while the contours of grief are different in every case, it is a comfort in a wild epoch to know that there are books out there, nonfiction and fiction, memoirs and beyond, that can provide something like comfort and succor. Here are 25 books that look straight into the face of death and reveal something new about what it’s like to be alive, saddled with that terrible knowledge that, someday, we will …Read More
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
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
Since it’s inevitable that this post — as is unavoidably the case with everything on the Internet today — will at some point become bound and gagged by Fifty Shades of Grey-related content, I figure it’s best to start out with something light and easy: why, this delectable crème caramel from Joan Didion’s recipe book will do! Just imagine slipping golden bite by golden bite into your mouth, noting the gooey goodness, velvety freshness, the melting coolness, the stinging astringency, the saline despair, the flavor that’s, as John Banville once wrote in the New York Times, “measured yet distraught, [like] that of a witness who has journeyed, consciously if not willingly, to the heart of private and, more momentously, public horror in order to bring us back the bad news.”
How many miles to Brooklyn?
Three score miles and ten—
Can I get there by subway at night?
Yes, and back again—
If your feet are nimble and light
You can get there by subway at night.
It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes me lose my breath, when New York began for me, but I cannot sit this ass on the moment it ended, can never cut through what gets so confusing, baby, to the exact place on the page where the heroine is a grown woman — and can do whatever she wants.
Everyone knows that, statistically at least, girls read more than boys. But the classic, canonical growing-up books, at least in American culture, tend to represent the male experience — I’m thinking On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye, everything ever written by Bret Easton Ellis or Michael Chabon — and while these are great books, suitable for boys or girls, the question remains: where are the books for girls to grow up on? Well, they’re definitely out there, if perhaps assigned less often in schools to readers of both genders. And so I propose a Girl Canon, populated by books not necessarily for girls but which investigate, address, or represent the female experience in some essential …Read More
Everybody out there could stand to be a little more interesting. Yes, even you, trilingual lion-tamer astrophysicist reader. And you know what makes you more interesting? Books, of course. (You knew it was going to be books, because you’re already a little interesting) But not just any books. Some books have more capacity to raise your interest level than others. Here’s a list of 50 books that will make you smarter, funnier, deeper, and yes, more interesting — at least to some …Read More
The idea of Joan Didion-as-symbol has been floating around in the ether lately. It’s quick cultural shorthand to say that, particularly if you are a middle-class white girl with writerly aspirations, you have good taste in writing, which in the case of “Joan Didion” may also translate to, “I have good taste/I could work for Vogue/I could see the dim future of a rotten decade and take to my bed for days, an aura around my head.”