Summertime is upon us: sticky subway rides, backyard barbecues, and a general lack of solid television. You should be outside anyway! I know, hilarious. But instead of binge-watching something old on Netflix, why not binge-read a great book series? You’ll get all the enjoyment of sticking with characters for hours and hours, through complicated, folding plots, and you can make it so Hugh Dancy plays every role (what do books look like in your mind?). Plus, you know, you can totally read these outside. Here are 25 awesome literary series to read this… Read More
It’s probably safe to say that media tends to refer to itself, in one way or another — and referring to literature, as opposed to other forms of pop culture, is one way to make just about anything a little more highbrow. Television, notoriously full of references and allusions, might be the worst/best culprit, and the most fun to hunt through for literary moments — after all, nothing’s more fun than seeing books on the boob tube. Here, you’ll find 50 of the greatest and most memorable literary allusions, shout-outs, cameos, and references on television, as well as real-life author appearances and whole episodes, or even whole seasons, based on… Read More
Sure, your favorite fiction writers probably have a book or two of nonfiction in them, be it a collection of essays (personal or critical) or a memoir about what it was like growing up to be them. But what about the outliers, the strange nonfiction journeys of our best writers? Did you know that E. Annie Proulx has an expert’s knowledge of cider, or that Willa Cather may have written a biography of a young woman who discovered her own religion? These nonfiction anomalies in a fiction writer’s life can tell us about the author’s passions — or, at the very least, what they wrote about for money. Here are our ten favorite nonfiction oddities and adventures by some formidable fiction writers. Some of these books are rare and out-of-print; some are still readily available (and worth your time).
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One of the things literature does better than almost any other medium is allow us to experience another person’s quality of mind, and sometimes even inhabit it. It follows, then, that every avid reader has a favorite literary character — whether they’re beloved for dastardly deeds, tough-girl antics, sex appeal, or a high snark quotient — and that there are many impossibly good ones out there. Click through to find 50 of the… Read More
Literature is a never-ending, overlapping, sometimes circular conversation — between writers, between readers, between books themselves. This fact can make for some fascinating and rewarding reading. After all, what’s more interesting than listening in on one genius talking to another? There are some novels that are better if you have a little bit of background going in — and sometimes that background is nothing more or less than another great novel. Here are a few books you should pair the way you would a fine wine with an excellent cheese — each enhancing the other and making for a very satisfying… Read More
Last night, as you’re well aware, the fourth season of Game of Thrones came to a close, and everyone went bananas. And perhaps, somewhere, some future literary superstar penned a fan letter to George R.R. Martin, telling him what an inspiration his work is. It’s not too much of a stretch — presumably in preparation for the finale, iO9 dug up that great fan letter that young Master Martin wrote to Marvel’s Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, raving over the greatness of a recent Fantastic Four issue. Such a missive is a blast to read now; it’s also but one example of the fine tradition of superstars who reveal themselves (either before their own fame or after it) to be super-fans.
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If that massive New Yorker profile didn’t get you curious about Edward St. Aubyn’s latest novel (which did have its faults), then perhaps the notable selling point is that it’s about writers — their writerly lives as well as their hangups — and told in a way that will hold readers’ attention even if they aren’t writers themselves. That isn’t easy, as writers have tried more than a few times to clue readers in to the circles they run in, the lives they lead, and the people they know. The results, unfortunately, don’t always appeal to anybody but the writers themselves. In the case of these nine books, however, writers’ attempt to depict other writers, intellectuals, and in many cases themselves, worked out better than most.
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What’s yr take on Updike? Misogynist? Genius? King of the WASPs? Guy you only know about because your parents had a few of his books on the shelf? Writer’s writer whose style you envy? Or is he a writer whose reputation has been unfairly maligned? This is the double-sided coin you flip when discussing Updike: he wrote beautifully, often flawlessly — but he’s also the prime example of post-war American white dudes whose work treats women like either like helpless idiots or, well, witches. But if you’re willing to read him simply for the craft, and can deal with the awkwardness of his outdated way of thinking, then you might really enjoy Updike. And if you already like his work, Adam Begley’s excellent new biography, Updike, will give you more insight into a writer you might still be conflicted about reading.
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Recently, at Salon, Laura Miller wondered what makes a book a classic, and who gets to say which books should be included in the conversation: do booksellers or online book communities like Goodreads get to make the call? Do critics? Should we consider David Foster Wallace’s work among these classics, even though it’s so recent? Does a canon even exist or matter?
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As Valentine’s Day (not to mention yet another cold night) approaches, you may find yourself in the mood for love. But what if you don’t? Never fear, because all you have to do is pick up a book. Yes, reading is sexy — especially when you’re reading one of these books, which range from literary fiction (with, ahem, some notable scenes) to famously romantic plays to “highbrow academia porn” to real literary erotica.… Read More