Margaret Atwood

10 of the Worst Jobs in Literature

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Gainfully employed denizens of the modern world: happy Labor Day. While you’re celebrating the American labor movement by taking a day off of whatever job you complain about most of the time, why not indulge in a little literature — particularly literature that reminds you just how good you have it when you are in the office? After the jump, you’ll find ten of the absolute worst jobs ever committed to fiction. Check them out, and go back to work tomorrow with a happy heart.
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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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25 Great Pieces of Life Advice From Literature

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Everyone could use a bit of advice now and then. But what if you’re the type who eschews all human contact and prefers to converse only with characters in your books? Well, er, then even they might not be able to help you. All kidding aside, as any avid reader will know, many of the great works of literature are filled with wisdom, which you could do worse than to take to heart — especially in these back-to-school weeks, a time when a little extra advice can always help. Here, you’ll find a few nuggets of humanhood as doled out by literary (read: fictional!) characters who know a thing or …Read More

10 Poetic Tributes to Cats

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Esteemed American poet T. S. Eliot had a deep love of cats, evidenced in his 1939 collection of humorous poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The whimsical work was originally composed to amuse his godchildren and friends, but earned the admiration of feline fanciers the world over (and inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats). And Eliot isn’t the only poet with a fondness for four-legged furballs. We’ve collected ten other poems for pussycats — tributes to their mystique and reflections on their place in our (lesser) human …Read More

30 Writers’ Invaluable Advice to Graduates

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Graduation season is fast approaching, the time of the year when some of our favorite writers are tasked with summing up the wisdom to be accrued from the process of growing up in ten succinct minutes of witty truth. These days, a successful graduation speech has the very real chance of going viral, and then living forever as a book: from David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life to Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art, the best graduation speeches are finding a new life. This crop includes the brand-new Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders, a pretty-in-print encapsulation of his 2013 Syracuse Graduation speech. It’s reason enough to collect 30 of the best, wisest, and pithiest pieces of advice from the greatest writers to attempt the graduation …Read More

The ‘Mad Men’ Bookshelf: What Will Don Draper Read in 1969?

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Few shows in television history have given their writers half as much fun as Matthew Weiner and his crew have with Mad Men. It’s why you always see so many reading lists for the show’s characters and compilations of all the books that have actually been featured on itMad Men is, at its heart, a very literary show, one whose influences are clear because its writers get to embed their favorite books into the story. Taking place in 1969, Season 7 is likely to cover world-changing events like the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, Woodstock, and the Manson Family murders (please hold your Megan death conspiracy theories), but the year was also filled with books that played a huge role in the cultural conversation of the time, and in some cases, had a lasting impact that can still be felt to this day. That’s why it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of these book covers on the final season of Mad Men.
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The New Classics: 21 Writers Tell Us Which Books They’d Add to the Canon

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What makes a book a classic? We’ve been revisiting the question recently thanks to a piece by Laura Miller at Salon,which explored what makes a book worthy of inclusion in the canon. Should David Foster Wallace be counted among the greats? Does Slaughterhouse-Five stand alongside Ulysses and the novels of Charles Dickens? Do these questions even matter? We asked a handful of critics, writers, and publishing industry people for their take on which new and underrated books should be considered …Read More

10 Literary Portraits of a Young Artist

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Today marks the 97th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — a novel that has come to epitomize the journey of the angsty artist on the threshold of becoming. If you never grow tired of reading about isolated figures turning their backs on family dysfunction, religious oppression, and social burdens in the wake of individual consciousness, head past the break. Here are ten other books that explore the interiority of creative passion, unbridled youth, and artistic evolution.
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