William Shakespeare

An Essential Stormy Weather Reading List

In case you haven’t heard, a massive storm is slated to sock the Northeast over the next two days as Hurricane Sandy, combined with a wintery cold weather system (that’s why it’s earned the seasonally-appropriate nickname “Frankenstorm”) threatens to slam into us. If you live anywhere on the East Coast or thereabouts, we imagine you’ll be wanting to stay inside for the foreseeable future, so we’ve put together an essential stormy weather reading list to get you in the hurricane mood and keep you busy while the weather rages. The lights might go out, but books don’t run out of batteries. Just don’t forget the… Read More

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The Seven Deadly Sins in Literature

Today marks the release of Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins, a portrait of a woman obsessed with food and the efforts (or non-efforts) of her family to get her eating under control. We can say pretty confidently that the book made us never want to overeat again, and we got to thinking about the other books that make us want to give up our vices. After all, any sin you can dream up has probably been written about, usually by someone French. After the jump, find examples of the seven deadly sins in literature (whether actually deadly or just unfortunate). Indulge in a little naughtiness-by-proxy, and then let us know which sinful characters we missed in the comments. … Read More

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Famous Last Words: 15 Authors’ Epitaphs

In this the spookiest of months, we find ourselves occupied with the world’s darker themes, and we got to wondering — what words have sent famous men and women of letters into the great unknown? Or perhaps more precisely, which words were chosen to honor them for eternity? From the tongue-in-cheek to the ponderously serious, from the knightly to the poetic, and even one that doubles as a grave robber’s curse, we’re fascinated by the epitaphs of famous authors, so we’ve collected a few of them here for your shivering pleasure.… Read More

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A Highbrow Halloween Reading List

Halloween is a time for spooky reads, and it’s also one of those days when we feel fine with letting our standards go out the window and reading some terrible-but-amazing fright tales. But what if you want to smarten up your Halloween reading list? Can zombies, werewolves and monsters go highbrow? Why yes they can, and for those of you who prefer your chills to come in a loftier package, we’ve got you covered. After the jump, find ten highbrow Halloween reads, from everyone’s favorite Shakespearean ghost story to poetry about zombies — and since we’re already mourning the ghosts of the books we had to cut from this list, resurrect any of your favorites we missed in the comments. … Read More

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Curious Underwater Photos of Actors Playing Shakespeare Characters

We were fascinated by Tim Tadder’s Fish Heads, a series of photos that captures subjects’ heads as they break through the surface of water, but we’re even more taken with the Los Angeles-based photographer’s newest aquatic endeavor. For Immersion, Tadder recruited graduate students from the University of San Diego’s acting program and snapped their pictures as they portrayed famous Shakespearean characters — underwater. The collection features characters including Romeo, Titania, Ariel, Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth. See if you can figure out who’s who after the jump, and visit Tadder’s website and Behance page for more of his work. … Read More

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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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A Literary Insult For Every Occasion

Famous authors have been known to go around insulting each other, but their characters aren’t saints either (or maybe they are, if you ask a certain Ellsworth Toohey). Of course, Shakespeare is famous for the insults in his plays, but he’s not the only one putting some very rude remarks into his characters’ mouths — our favorite literature is full of witty jibes, bold attacks, and sly rejoinders. Click through to see some of the best put-downs in the wide realm of literature — and how we suggest you utilize… Read More

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Watch Your Favorite TV Characters Talking About Books

If you’ve been paying attention to this space over the last couple of months, you already know that we’re fascinated by the reading habits of our favorite fictional characters. But what’s better than a simple reading list? A little informed dialogue, of course. Or even a few well-placed snarky comments. Recently, we spotted this excellent clip of The Wire‘s D’Angelo talking about The Great Gatsby over at Open Culture, and it inspired us to round up a few more clips of some of our favorite TV characters waxing poetic about their favorite (or least favorite) books. From simple proclamations of Dr. Seuss’s brilliance to Boardwalk Empire‘s very physical commentary on David Copperfield, we love seeing books we love figure into the drama. Click through to watch — and hey, you just might learn something. … Read More

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A Google Maps Tour of Famous Authors’ Homes

Awhile back we took a virtual tour of Old Hollywood film locations from last year’s Best Picture-winner, The Artist. Because there’s nothing we love more than virtual globetrotting and literary legends, we thought we’d take a gander at some of the more notable places that our favorite authors have lived. Hey, why not? From Joan Didion’s sprawling sun drenched estate that was her beloved Quintana Roo’s first home to the narrow passage where Ernest Hemingway lived while writing his ode to Paris, click through to check out Google’s rendition of significant literary locations around the world. Then, let us know in the comments which you’d most like to visit! … Read More

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Exclusive Infographic: The Greatest Books of All Time

What are the greatest books of all time? And who should be the judge? Recently, Brain Pickings pointed out an awesome book of lists wherein 125 famous authors — everyone from Norman Mailer to Claire Messud to Annie Proulx to Stephen King — choose their ten favorite books. The book, The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, then handily synthesizes all that info (544 works total mentioned in 125 lists) into a few important master lists: namely, the greatest books and authors of all time. Each book is assigned a value based on its position in any given list — that is, “a first-place pick is worth ten points, and a tenth-place pick is worth one point” and so on — and those numbers are then added up to give each book a ranking. We’ve collected a few of the top rankings here in an easy to digest infographic. How many have you read? … Read More

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