William Shakespeare

The First 10 Works of Fiction You Should Read If You’ve Never Read a Book Before

Recently, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver told reporters that — while he has written more than 20 cookbooks — he had never read a whole book until recently, when he finished Suzanne Collins’s Hunter Games sequel, Catching Fire. Oliver said, “I’ve never read a book in my life, which I know sounds incredibly ignorant but I’m dyslexic and I get bored easily.” Fair enough. As a kind of thought experiment, Flavorwire has picked out the first ten books that an adult who is new to reading should pick up. Quibbles or further suggestions? Add them in the comments. … Read More

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What Your Favorite Shakespeare Play Says About You

If you went to high school in any town in America, chances are you’ve had to read your share of Shakespeare’s plays. Even if you groaned your way through every single one, you probably had a favorite, and the one you chose might just say something about you. In celebration of Joss Whedon’s new adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing and the general joy that is our beloved bard, Flavorwire has assembled a (tongue-in-cheek, folks) one-sheet of what your favorite Shakespeare play truly means. Are you a romantic, a dramatist, or just a huge liar? Click through to find… Read More

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Joss Whedon Praises Shakespeare’s Female Characters, Wants to Make a Ballet About a Library

Acclaimed filmmaker and Buffy mastermind Joss Whedon hosted a screening of his newest film, a black-and-white, contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, last night at the always excellent Brooklyn Academy of Music. The movie, shot in 12 days at Whedon’s house, is fantastic, its tiny budget and time frame giving the final result the energy of a live performance, with superb acting (particularly on the part of Whedonverse favorites Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, not to mention a hilarious Nathan Fillion) and elegant, generous directorial choices. This is a filmmaker who loves his audience — and it comes through in everything he does. After the screening, Whedon hosted a Q&A where he discussed what still excites him about TV, how a love of dance has inspired him to consider making a ballet about a library, and how Shakespeare’s Claudio is basically Michael Scott. … Read More

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10 Famous Literary Characters That Are Significantly Younger Than You Think

When an author creates a character, he or she bestows upon this fictional person specific attributes — age, looks, certain proclivities — that may or may not be made explicit on the page. But whether the character is explained fully or not, there’s no telling what will happen when the culture at large gets a hold of him. Especially if the notoriously age-garbling film industry gets involved. After the jump, prepare to be shocked at famous literary characters that are significantly younger than you (probably) think they are. … Read More

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Classic Books Annotated by Famous Authors

Readers come in two editions: those who write in their books, and those who don’t. No matter which you are on your own time, there’s great pleasure to be found in paging through marked-up copies of other people’s books — particularly when the original owners were famous writers themselves. Whether scribbled or printed, snide or appreciative, an author’s annotations give equal insight into the book and the reader, and double as yet another reason to buy physical books. Click through to see the marginalia in the books of a few great… Read More

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Clever Posters Chart the Colors in Famous Novels

What colors are the insides of your favorite novels? Well, sure, the off-white of a book page — but what about the worlds they create? In artist Jaz Parkinson‘s color charts project, he has created graphic signatures of novels’ visual content, building mini rainbows that correspond to classic works. Needless to say, there’s a lot of red (blood) and white (milk) in A Clockwork Orange, and miles of black in McCarthy’s The Road. … Read More

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11 Famous Actors Reading Shakespeare Out Loud

Four hundred and forty nine years ago today, William Shakespeare was born. So today, we celebrate his birthday with National Shakespeare Day in the UK and the rather less elegant Talk Like Shakespeare Day in the US. With this in mind, we’ve put together a set of videos of famous actors reading or performing Shakespeare — both elegantly celebrating the man and, well, talking like him. NB: we’ve ignored clips of famous actors performing Shakespeare on film or in proper plays, leaning toward recital of sonnets and informal monologues. Fill your ears with Shakespeare read by wonderful actors after the jump, and let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments. … Read More

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Read the First Poems of 10 Famous Poets

In conjunction with the recent publication of a new, gorgeous dual-language edition of The Collected Poems of Marcel Proust, this morning The Daily Beast shared the first poem ever written by Marcel Proust (as far as anyone knows). The poem, penned when the legendary author was a mere 17 years old, reflects his struggle with homosexuality and his blossoming talent. After the jump, read Proust’s debut poem and a collection of nine other of the earliest known verses of now famous poets. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know about it in the comments. … Read More

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The Doubles: 10 Pairs of Great Books With the Same Titles

There must be something in the water this spring — that’s the water the publishing industry all drinks, that is. This month, Algonquin is publishing Jill McCorkle’s novel Life After Life, and in April, Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown will come out with Kate Atkinson’s, er, Life After Life. Oops! Both novels, as it happens, are quite good (and are sharing top billing as the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Pick in April), and we’re looking forward to “accidentally” having to buy them both. Intrigued by this phenomenon, we dug around for other examples of two great books sporting the same title — though none of our other pairs were born so close to one another. Check them out after the jump, and let us know if we missed any of your favorite titular doppelgangers in the comments. … Read More

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10 Male Writers on the Perfect Woman

This week, we listened to Slate’s Gentleman Scholar advise a Miss Bianca on how to attract a writerly boyfriend. Though his response was clever indeed, we’re not sure it was overly helpful, so we thought we’d lend a hand by going straight to the source, and finding out what writing men have to say about their ideal women. Now, bear in mind: some of these quotes come from the mouths of characters, and as such must be taken with a grain of salt. That said, we all know that everyone’s characters spring from some part of themselves, so their words bear repeating here. Straight from the horse’s mouth, then: ten male writers on what they look for in a female mate after the jump. Just be warned — the results may make you think twice about wanting to date a literary man. … Read More

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