John Updike

The Skeptic’s Guide to John Updike

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 But if you’re willing to read him simply for the craft, and can deal with the awkwardness of his outdated way of thinking, then you might really enjoy Updike.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. … Read More

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Which Books Should We Stop Calling Classics?

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? … Read More

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50 Sexy Books to Get You in the Mood (for Valentine’s Day)

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

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10 of the Best Holiday Books You Probably Haven’t Read

For many of us, December is the month of trotting out old classics: traditions, recipes, that one silver plate that’s been in the family for generations. Of course, it’s a time of classic holiday reading, too, so if you’re both the bookish and the celebratory type, A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! are likely to be laying about, cookie crumbs mashed into the creases of your favorite pages, hot chocolate rings on the back. But what about the holiday books that don’t get quite as much love? This year, if you find you’ve gone over The Night Before Christmas one too many times, try swapping in one of these excellent and under-appreciated choices, which we bet only the jolliest among you will have… Read More

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2013′s Best Books to Give as Gifts

If you’ve got a coffee table or bank account big enough to collect all of them, 2013 was a pretty fine year for beautifully packaged books that were interesting reads, but could also make any room look smarter. For those of you who plan to give books as gifts this holiday season, we’ve collected some excellent options published within the past 12… 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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25 Fascinating Photos of Famous Writers at Home

This week, we caught a glimpse of author Tao Lin’s Murray Hill apartment in this cheeky review over at Vice. Though somewhat alarmed at the squalor of Lin’s digs (seriously, can you blame us?), we found ourselves inspired to hunt down a few more shots of notable authors hanging out at home. After the jump, stop by and visit with everyone from Zora Neale Hurston to Paul Auster. Whose apartment would you most like to move into? Let us know in the comments. … Read More

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Writers Praising Writers: 15 of the Best Compliments from One Author to Another

We all know authors can insult one another with aplomb, but do those bitter wordsmiths ever have anything nice to say? Well, yes, of course. If we had to guess, we’d say that most authors’ biggest fans are other authors, who might understand a given piece of literature better than any mere mortal — or they might just be more likely to write about it. In the excellent collection Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story, which hit shelves last week, 20 famous writers choose and introduce the short stories from the periodical that moved and thrilled them. In honor of the book’s publication, we’ve put together a few of our favorite author-on-author compliments. Click through to spread the love, and if we’ve missed your favorite compliment, add to our list in the comments. … Read More

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Banned Book Trading Cards: Collect ‘Em All

Libraries across the country are celebrating Banned Books Week, which lasts through this Saturday, but Lawrence Public Library in Kansas has taken a rather (forgive us) novel approach to the festivities. The library put out a call for submissions for local artists to create “trading cards” inspired by banned books, the best of which they’re handing out at the library all week. Since we’re pretty covetous of all things collectable (and all things book-related), this seems like a genius idea to us — not to mention the fact that a lot of the resultant artwork is pretty wonderful. Click through to see some of our favorites from the submitted artworks, and then be sure to head here to check out the full collection. … Read More

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Ranking Literary Devils by Their Relative Fearsomeness

The devil — or Satan, or Lucifer, or Beezlebub — has been skulking about literature almost as long as literature has existed, manifesting in many forms and with many personalities. In Victor LaValle’s newest novel The Devil in Silver, published this week, the devil stalks New Hyde hospital, slowly killing off its patients before sneaking back behind a silver door on the ward. In honor of LaValle’s book, we decided to rank some of the most prominent literary devils from least to most fearsome — because every devil is its own bag of mischief. Click through to read our rankings, and let us know if you agree — or which literary devils you’d add — in the comments. … Read More

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