“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
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
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
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
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
Milan Kundera’s latest essay collection, Encounter, is at once enthusiastically exultant and outright curmudgeonly. Amid deserving praise for the composers, artists, and writers who have inspired him, the Franco-Czech writer also describes our era of so-called post-art as “a world where art is dying because the need for art, the sensitivity and the love of it, is dying.”
It’s a compelling claim — and one that’s now been widely over-quoted — but, as Geoff Dyer aptly noted in his Guardian review, it’s also “a form of provocative kindling” that, in keeping with Kundera’s legacy of intellectual interrogation, begs to be challenged. So, in the spirit of constructive optimism, we humbly offer contemporary counterparts to Kundera’s beloved artists — they may not be perfect approximations, but these recent innovators are at least confronting and pushing the same boundaries. … Read More
This past week, a 1950s video of Vladimir Nabokov sipping tea, discussing Lolita with Lionel Trilling, and just generally being his charmingly elitist self made the rounds. It reminded us that author videos don’t have to resemble the BookTV cliche of someone just droning on and on. It also got us thinking: What else is out there today? After the jump, we collect our five favorite sites for author… Read More
Crichton dies at 66: Bestselling giant MICHAEL CRICHTON — who began writing to pay off his bills at Harvard Medical School — died Tuesday at the age of 66. After having churned out science-fiction thrillers like SPHERE and ANDROMEDA STRAIN, not to mention all the JURASSIC PARK books, he leaves quite a legacy. [… Read More
This past week the 1 train literati were in full swing every morning — fighting the vampire-obsessed for a free seat in the subway car.
Our assertion that you’ll see STEPHANIE MEYER around every corner was confirmed by multiple sightings of TWILIGHT and BREAKING DAWN; with the movie coming out this month there’s little chance of a break from Meyer. This will be the last update from us on this front unless there’s a real vampire involved — we don’t want to be redundant at the Big Brother Book Club. … Read More