Joan Didion

25 Books Every Writer Should Read

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

  • 0

Listen to 15 Literary Icons Reading Their Own Work

One of the most important experiences you can have with your favorite author is to hear them read aloud from their works. But many of us will never get the chance to see our most beloved writer in the flesh. So, after the jump is a collection of 15 writers — some alive, some long gone — reading their own words (all fiction, with the exception of William Faulkner, whose Nobel Prize speech is included because it’s now often taught alongside his novels and stories, and Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking).  … Read More

  • 0

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

  • 0

10 of the Greatest Essays on Writing Ever Written

If there’s one topic that writers can be counted on to tackle at least once in their working lives, it’s writing itself. A good thing too, especially for all those aspiring writers out there looking for a little bit of guidance. For some winter inspiration and honing of your craft, here you’ll find ten great essays on writing, from the classic to the contemporary, from the specific to the all-encompassing. Note: there are many, many, many great essays on writing. Bias has been extended here to personal favorites and those available to read online. Also of note but not included: full books on the subject like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Ron Carlson’s Ron Carlson Writes a Story, or, in a somewhat different sense, David Shields’ Reality Hunger, for those looking for a longer commitment. Read on, and add your own favorite essays on writing to the list in the comments. … Read More

  • 0

Why Do We Celebrate Joan Didion’s Personal Essays More Than Her Other Writing?

Today is Joan Didion’s 79th birthday and also a day closer to the end of a year that was characterized by the resurgence of a narrative that she gave birth to: the “Goodbye to All That” essay, the it’s-time-to-leave-New York story. The glut of these essays is as much a marker of Didion’s popular beatification as of the impossibility of living in New York. This is not to say that making a saint of Sacramento’s daughter is undeserved, but rather that in privileging a minute part of her oeuvre, we have forgotten the, often better, rest. The popular imagination holds Didion as an “I-writer,” one whose personal ruminations offer the rest of us prescriptions for our own lives. … Read More

  • 0

50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers

Maybe it’s a Pavlovian response to years of schooling, or that the brisk weather affords more hours inside, or something else entirely, but the fact is this: November seems like the time to take on the heftiest reading on your list. And let’s face the facts: some books are only for the toughest readers on the block, your Sylvester Stallones of literature, as it were. So for those of you who count yourself tough, here’s a list of books for you: some absurdly long, some notoriously difficult, some with intense or upsetting subject matter but blindingly brilliant prose, some packed into formations that require extra effort or mind expansion, and some that fit into none of those categories, but are definitely for tough girls (or guys)… Read More

  • 0

Slouching Towards Joan Didion E-Books

For those of you who have been wanting to read (or reread…for the fifth time) Joan Didion’s classic collection Slouching… Read More

  • 0

Waving Goodbye to the “Goodbye to All That” Essay

Everyone I know has a fantasy escape plan. Portland, Oregon is the default, the place New Yorkers think will give them all the benefits of a progressive, culturally vibrant city, with the added advantages of friendliness and affordability. I tend to dream of returning to Baltimore, an even cheaper city with a more daring and distinctive arts scene, where I went to college and which I have missed ever since. My best friend from high school tells me that she and her new husband won’t move out of the city for a few years, but they’re already looking at bucolic properties upstate. Another couple of close friends are keeping a temporary move to Austin at the back of their minds. This Friday night I’ll be at the going-away party for a talented young musician who’s moving to Nashville. … Read More

  • 0

The Most Stylish People in Literature

Another New York Fashion Week is in the books after today. There were some highs, and there were some definite lows. Lots of pictures of celebrities looking bored while models walked past them were taken, and people tweeted things like this: … Read More

  • 0

Clever and Creepy Illustrations of Modern Authors as Monsters

If writer and sometimes cartoonist Lincoln Michel‘s macabre illustrations of modern lit masters has taught us anything, it’s that themes of alienation, societal fragmentation, and anxiety can really take a toll on an author. In this case, it can turn them into monsters. We suspect “Bone Didion,” “Haruki Murderkami,” and company would appreciate Michel’s humorous and creepy twist. The series was created for Vol. 1 Brooklyn, but Michel dragged the literary skeletons out of the closet once more on Twitter. Take a closer look in our gallery. … Read More

  • 0