Toni Morrison

10 of the Creepiest Ghosts in Literature

We know it’s not October yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a few extra scary stories as the nights get longer and the leaves start to change. This week saw the release of The Big Book of Ghost Stories, an anthology of spooky tales starring ghouls of all descriptions, edited by Otto Penzler. Though we haven’t worked our way through it yet, we were inspired to think about the fictional ghosts who have creeped us out the most thoroughly over the years — from those inhabiting classic horror stories to those sneaking into more literary fiction. Click through to read about our picks for the creepiest ghosts in literature — and since everyone has their own specific demons to face, let us know which you’d have chosen in the comments. … Read More

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The First Edition Covers of 25 Classic Books

We try not to judge books by their covers — both proverbially and literally — but sometimes we just can’t help it. After all, the cover is your first impression of a book, and can inform the way you approach it. Plus, at least in our experience, any avid reader who carries a book wherever she goes has memories and feelings attached to it that can be instantly dredged up by a peek at the cover art. But of course, most book covers change over the years, whether minimally, correcting for modern fonts and colors, or maximally, going through radical change after radical change, each generation connecting (or not connecting) to a different design. With that in mind, after the jump, we’ve collected a few first edition covers of classic books, some of which may be familiar to you — a certain blue masterpiece will perhaps never fall out of favor — though some have been replaced by much more iconic imagery or fallen out of favor. Click through to reminisce over (or discover) 25 covers of classic books, and let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments. … Read More

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10 Quintessentially American Novels

In case you missed all the cookouts and night-time explosions, yesterday was the fourth of July, and we hope you all spent it wearing red, white, and blue and eating hot dogs on a grassy lawn. We also hope you’re not too sick of American pride, however, because in honor of our country’s birthday, we’ve compiled a list of books that we think are quintessentially American to add to your reading list. Each of these books is wonderfully representative of some slice of the American experience, though of course no country can be the same for all people at all times. Click through to check out our ultra-patriotic reading list, and since a list of ten novels doesn’t even begin to cover it, let us know which books you’d add in the comments. … Read More

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30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30

Earlier this week, we stumbled across a list over at Divine Caroline of thirty books everyone should read before they’re thirty. While we totally agreed with some of the picks, we thought there were some essential reads missing, so we decided to put together a list of our own. We stuck to fiction for simplicity’s sake, and chose the books below on a variety of criteria, selecting enduring classics that have been informing new literature since their first printing, stories that speak specifically or most powerfully to younger readers, and books we simply couldn’t imagine reaching thirty without having read. Of course, we hope that you read more than thirty books by the time you hit your fourth decade, so this list is incomplete — but we had to stop somewhere. Click through to read the books we think everyone should read before their thirtieth birthday, and let us know which ones you would add in the comments. … Read More

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Contemporary Authors We Think We’ll Still Be Reading in 100 Years

Earlier this week, we read a fascinating article over at The New Yorker that asked the question, “why is literary fame so unpredictable?” Apparently, in 1929, the readers of The Manchester Guardian were asked to vote on the authors they thought would still be read widely in 2029, and their top choice was John Galsworthy, who — though he won the Nobel Prize for The Forsyte Saga in 1932 — is now relatively unknown, or at least not very popular. The article goes on to discuss the difficulty in making predictions of literary prestige over long periods of time, noting a couple things that might give clues (a staunch but small readership of fellow authors, for one). While we concur that this kind of thing often rests on chance, fashion and unforeseeable future circumstance, we thought we’d take a stab at rounding up a few of the contemporary (read: living) authors we think we might still be reading in 100 years. Click through to see our predictions, and let us know your own in the comments. … Read More

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The Official Flavorpill Bookshelf: May Staff Reading Picks

We don’t think we’re congratulating ourselves too much if we consider our office a bookish one. But what’s the fun in being bookish if you can’t share what novels are keeping you up at night, get suggestions from other literature nerds, and gossip about what’s next on your reading list? That’s why we’ve embarked on a monthly mission to share our virtual staff bookshelf with you (you can see past bookshelves here and here), so you can check out what books are on our minds and chime in with your own. Click through to check out our aggregated staff bookshelf, and read what a few members of the Flavorpill family have to say about their reading lists, and then let us know what’s in your own read/reading/to read piles in the comments! … Read More

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10 New Must-Reads for May

“Spring has returned,” Rainer Maria Rilke famously wrote. “The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” Then again, if you ask Dorothy Parker, “Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.” Whichever side you take, this month will see great books popping up even faster than daisies and dandelions, and in some cases even making more noise than those fool birds. This month, settle in among the flowers with graphic memoirs, new novels from American legends, wine manuals from literary party boys, and lots of other stories great and small. Click through to read our list of must-reads for May, and let us know which books you’re most excited to read this month in the comments. … Read More

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Bob Dylan and Toni Morrison Among Presidential Medal of Freedom Honorees

Well, we’re not going to argue with this: The White House has announced that Barack Obama will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bob Dylan, Toni Morrison, and 11 other notable Americans. Along with identifying him as “one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century,” the president’s people are commending… Read More

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Are These America's 25 Most Important Writers?

There are a million ways to rank authors, as anyone who has spent any time on this website can surely attest. But here’s one that has us reflecting on the state of the American literary canon in a new way. Over at Commentary Magazine, D.G. Myers has ranked American writers based on the MLA International Bibliography’s account of the amount of scholarship on them. And, perhaps more interestingly, he’s tracked the changes since the last listing.

In the last 25 years, Henry James overcame William Faulkner as the headliner in our collective academic heraldry, Vladimir Nabokov and Toni Morrison have both shot up the charts, and Hawthorne, Thoreau, Frost and Twain seem to be fading fast. Of course, as Myers points out, this isn’t a popularity contest, per se. The list reflects “the professional commitments, the devotion of time and energy, on the part of literary scholars. These are the writers who are principally taught in university English departments around the country, the writers who are being handed down to the next generation.” Click through to see Myers’ list, with the bracketed numbers reflecting changes since 1947, and let us know if you think this reflects the American canon in the comments. … Read More

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Readers' Choice: 10 More of the Most Powerful Women in Literature

Recently, we compiled a list of ten of the most powerful female characters in literature, and asked you to pitch in with your own suggestions in the comments. And boy, did you oblige us! As one commenter wrote, “This should be the 50 Most Powerful Female Characters. 10 just isn’t enough.” Indeed — even 50 probably wouldn’t cut it. We were excited to see the number of different characters you came up with, and even more excited to see a shining reminder of how many incredibly strong women exist in literature, so we decided to publish a second list with some of the most often (and most fervently) recommended female characters. The beauty about the vast world of literature is that different people are inspired by different things, so everyone gets to have a list of their own, and some of these aren’t necessarily characters we would have picked (though some totally are), but hey — the people have spoken. Click through to see which female characters our readers picked as the most powerful women in literature, and if we still haven’t hit on your favorite, make a case for her in the comments! … Read More

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