Recently at the Flavorwire office we’ve become obsessed (in a skeptical and dubious way, of course) with the Myers-Briggs personality test, a pop-psych phenomenon which sorts us all into one of 16 categories, each with a unique combination of four letters. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Intuitive or sensing? Thinking or feeling? Perceiving or judging? Now take all your results and combine them, and you have your MBTI personality type! While we don’t advocate your running out and switching jobs based on this result, a personalized reading guide can’t hurt. So in the spirit of summer reading — and summer self-inquiry — we offer a novel that we think would suit each MBTI… Read More
When French author Michel Houellebecq was promoting his 2010 novel The Map and the Territory, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, and failed to show for several appearances, the media flew into a frenzy. Some even speculated that he was kidnapped. This rumor inspired Guillaume Nicloux’s The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, starring the writer as a version of himself. The film’s official US trailer debuted this week, reminding us of the many rumors that have plagued some of literature’s finest. Here are just a… 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
Chocolate! Flowers! Little beady-eyed bears holding plush hearts! No, put down your sugarcoated wallets: these are no gifts for the culture connoisseur you so ardently adore. Instead, why not earn your kisses with something a little more creative, a little more interesting, and (probably) a little more useful? Here’s a selection of romantic and culturally relevant V-Day gifts for your plugged-in sweetie. You’re… 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
Literary biography is a hugely significant, if often overlooked, enterprise. Today, much of what we know about the authors we admire is filtered through an ocean of online mini-biographies, nearly all of which are copies of copies. The original source of an enormous amount of this information is the literary biography, and in the case of most authors, there are precious few examples of such books. Even exceedingly famous authors are gifted only a handful of quality biographies. With this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 50 essential literary… Read More
The wit and wisdom of humorist, author, and orator Mark Twain has secured his place as the father of American literature. Today is the mustachioed writer’s birthday. In the process of revisiting his writings and photographs — images of a bushy-haired gent in a white linen suit that matched his locks — we spotted a pic of a barely recognizable, handsome young Twain. We went searching for other photos of historical figures (and a few pop culture icons for good measure) who looked vastly different when they were younger and decided to make it a game. See if you can guess the identity of these historical oldheads, several who have always seemed eternally ancient in our minds, by looking at their photos as fine young things. Feel free to confess your new crush, below.
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In the handsome new book Mark Twain’s America: A Celebration in Words and Images, written by Harry K. Katz and with beautiful rarities, history, and arcana from the Library of Congress, we get to know the real stories behind one of America’s most celebrated and essential writers. It’s a gorgeous look at period Americana from 1850 to 1910, the odds and ends that, put together, serve as a biography of Twain, in the many roles that he played throughout his life. To celebrate this book, we’re sharing an exclusive sample of the book’s best in Mark Twain ephemera.
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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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