As April ushers in sunshine and flowers, and the spring holidays have adherents talking about new beginnings, the writing world is overflowing with people setting goals. Some are participating in the 100 days project, which begins today and requires doing something creative each day for 100 days straight. Others are embarking on Camp NaNoWriMo, a “practice run” month of novel-writing, and the more verse-inclined are scribbling a poem a day for National Poetry Month (either through the auspices of NaPoWriMo or not).
And even if we’re doing none of those things, but simply contemplating Ken Cosgrove’s choice to abandon his writing to get revenge on his advertising colleagues on the premiere of Mad Men, today is a good day to rededicate oneself to the craft. So here’s a collection of words from writers beyond the usual suspects — writers of color, feminists, genre writers, and even a Renaissance poet — talking about the hard work of building habits, agonizing over the writing process, and wrestling with the muse. If they don’t have you waking up at dawn tomorrow with a pen and a notebook, nothing will.
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It’s that time of year again, when the pumpkins come out, the fake cobwebs are hung and we feel that dormant urge to be chilled, thrilled and spooked to our bones. Get out your flashlights, because a scary story awaits — actually, make that fifty of them. Now, there’s more to scary stories than goblins, ghouls, blood and your general horror — here there be monsters of many kinds, existential and literal, extraordinary and everyday. And remember: like beauty, fear is in the bloody eye of the beholder. So whether you yearn for classic horror or literary fiction guaranteed to make your skin crawl, read on. If you dare!
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It’s hard out there for a teenager. It’s even kind of hard out there for those of us who used to be teenagers — especially in these back-to-school months, when the nostalgia comes creeping up like those floods we used to wear and never, ever should again. But you know who was probably even stranger than you in high school? Your favorite cultural icon. Or maybe not — as is only to be expected, some had joyful (and/or prank-filled) teenage years, some suffered tragedies, some were completely weird, some were popular, and some deserve our respect for even getting through. Click through to read 50 cultural icons on their teenage… Read More
This week marked the birthday of visionary science fiction icon Ray Bradbury. He was dubbed the “Poet of the Pulps” in 1953 for his lyrical style, which lent creditability to a genre that often struggled for legitimacy. With over 600 short stories and 27 novels to his credit, Bradbury’s works have always attracted filmmakers and producers looking for descriptive, emotional, and engaging narratives. We’ve highlighted just a few of our favorites, but feel free to share your own picks, below.
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We’ve talked about how great the Midwest is for writers today, but from Hemingway’s Michigan to Bellow’s Chicago and Cather’s Nebraska, the region has always provided readers with plenty of great literature over the years. Since this week marks the birthday of Indiana’s own Booth Tarkington, we thought of a few novels from the region that you may have overlooked, and should consider placing on your bookshelf alongside Augie March and Sister Carrie.
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When thinking about our favorite authors, it’s natural to wonder about their personal lives and the places they came from. When the homes of these wordsmiths are listed on the real estate market, we can’t help but fantasize about buying them and soaking up some of that writerly mojo by spending time in the same rooms they did, penning their well-known works. Recently, we noticed a number of literary homes up for sale. It seems criminal to keep that information to ourselves, so here are the homes of eight famous writers that you can purchase right now. We’ll be waiting for those dinner invitations.
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There’s always something exciting about reading a literary figure’s memoir, learning the details of their personal life (those they’re willing to share, anyway) and getting a glimpse into their creative process. But it’s perhaps more illuminating to read an outsider’s account of a literary great, assembled from years of reporting and sifting through private papers. A literary biography might not be as sensational as, say, the life story of a doomed Hollywood starlet (although certainly a fair number of novelists, playwrights, and poets have lived turbulent lives), but they do offer a complete picture that shatters the fourth walls of our favorite writers’ work. Here’s a collection of great bios that accomplish just… Read More
Springtime can make even the most devoted of readers a little bit antsy. After all, there are flowers to smell, puddles to jump in, fresh love to kindle. You still want to have a novel in your pocket — just maybe one that doesn’t require quite so epic an attention span. Never fear: after the jump, you will find 50 incredible novels under 200 pages (editions vary, of course, so there’s a little leeway) that are suitable for this or any… Read More
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
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 it: Mad 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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