Milan Kundera

50 Essential Cult Novels

Just what is a cult novel? Well, like so many literary terms, the edges blur whenever you try to look right at them, but in the end, you sort of know one when you read one. Sometimes a cult novel is one that the critics panned but the fans love, or sometimes it’s one that both readers and critics love, but a certain contingent of readers really love. Any book with a squadron of rabid fans swearing that it changed their lives quickly seems cultish. Cult novels often come from the fringes, they often represent countercultural perspectives, they often experiment with form. Here are 50 of the… Read More

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‘The Catcher in My Thighs’ and Other Witty Book Cover Remixes by Na Kim

Prolific Brooklyn-based illustrator Na Kim is an artist after our own heart: witty — even a bit risqué — and literary in equal measure. While all her work is worth a peek, we’re especially smitten with her imaginary book covers (spotted via Booooooom!), renderings of well-worn classics like The Catcher in the Rye and Madame Bovary, with titles altered just enough to make us giggle. Click through for some highlights, and follow Kim on Tumblr to keep up with her work. … 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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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

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Like, Sympathize, But Don’t Hate: How Social Media’s Enforced Positivity Is Making Us Dupes

A couple of years back, we ran a post called “The 10 Things That Are Killing Indie Music in 2011.” It discussed various ways in which the world of indie music could be better, and generated what amounted to a heap of attention for Flavorwire at the time, also stirring a healthy debate in the comments section (all of which sadly got nuked when we switched over to Facebook comments). Inter alia, several commenters took me to task for being “negative,” asking why I didn’t write something positive about the world of music instead of criticizing it. And, y’know, sure, why not? A couple of weeks later, I wrote “10 Things That We Love About Indie Music in 2011.” It generated precisely one-tenth of the traffic the first post did, proving neatly that for all people’s stated good intentions, negative pieces were a whole lot more popular on the Internet than positive ones. Or so it appeared, anyway. … Read More

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Required Reading List: Don Draper

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten,” Ralph Waldo Emerson famously quipped, “even so, they have made me.” In this new bi-weekly series, Flavorwire plays professor to some of our favorite pop culture characters, assigning reading lists tailored to their temperaments or — in some cases — designed to make them into slightly better people. After all, even fictional characters can have their lives changed by books. Or so we imagine. This week, we recommend a reading list for Don Draper. … Read More

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30 Gorgeous and Delicious Literary Cakes

This week, our mouths (and minds!) watered looking at a few delightful book cakes over at Shelf Life. Hungry as we are, we couldn’t resist scouring the Internet for more, from highbrow tomes to children’s books to full-scale collections in vanilla frosting. After the jump, check out 30 delicious looking literary cakes — and let us know which one you’d most like to bake (or eat) in the comments. … Read More

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20 Books Every Woman Should Read in Her 20s

Recently, we stumbled upon this list of “fun” books that every woman should read in her 20s — needless to say, if you’re even a casual visitor to this space, the books (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Bitches on a Budget) aren’t exactly the ones we’d choose. So, perhaps rather predictably, we decided to put together our own list instead. Now, don’t forget, these are books for women in their 20s — we assume you’ve already read as much Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott as you care to, we expect that you’ve already tackled To Kill a Mockingbird and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Jane Eyre. And though women should read all books about all kinds of things and by all kinds of authors, this list sort of necessarily skews towards  both female writers and characters, given the topic of the day. Click through to check out our reading list — and since every woman should read more than 20 books in her 20s (hundreds, ladies!), add your own favorites in the comments. … Read More

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10 Designs for Lazy Living

A few weeks ago the anxiety section of The New York Times Opionator featured a great essay by the philosophizing cartoonist Tim Kreider lamenting the “crazy busy” epidemic sweeping our overwrought, overworked, and overwhelmed nation. He posits that the “busy trap” is self imposed, claiming that our G-d out iLifes have led us to collectively believe that the opposite of busy is nothing short of terrifying. He goes on to remind us that “idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”

Our favorite Czech novelist (and perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature!) Milan Kundera pretty much summed it up by saying that “ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.” To promote a lazier life, we’ve rounded up some of the best designs in the world that combat the anguish of a double booked existence. From a transformable burrito shaped lounger that lets you be all kinds of lazy to a sleeping bag chair you never have to leave, click through to check out our favorite designs to help you live a more languid life. … Read More

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The Best Literary Sex Scenes Not Penned by a Great Male Novelist

Writing about sex in literature is a difficult task; there are so many ways authors can go wrong. Nowadays, most writers spend too much time on the build up and then release the curtain during the show, choosing instead to segue to a point immediately after the act. Others spend an inordinate amount of energy coming up with penis euphemisms, and end up ruining a scene (think: late John Updike), or even a whole novel. Evelyn Waugh’s son, Auberon, established the Bad Sex in Fiction Award 17 years ago for this very reason. He wanted to  “gently dissuad[e] authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing, or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels.” Rowan Somerville was the 2010 winner for some godawful passages in his second novel, The Shape of Her. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, was also nominated, as was Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross.

To counter this terrible scourge on contemporary readers, here is a list of noteworthy sex scenes in modern literature not by a Great Male Novelist (e.g., Mailer, Roth, or Updike) — those supposed masters of the form. … Read More

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