William Shakespeare

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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Read the World’s Great Literature in Graphic Form

This week saw the release of The Graphic Canon, Volume 1, an epic collection of canonical literature reinterpreted in graphic form by some of the best illustrators and comics creators working today. Starting with The Epic of Gilgamesh and working through to the plays and poems of Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons (the 18th century French epistolary novel that inspired Cruel Intentions), the book includes tales from a remarkably wide variety of cultures — Tibetan, Incan, Chinese, Mayan, Japanese, Ancient Greek — and adapts both the classics you already know and those you haven’t discovered yet (we know it made us want to read a lot of new stuff). Volumes two and three, forthcoming from Seven Stories over the fall, will continue in a loosely chronological fashion, tackling the rest of the literary canon up through Infinite Jest, which concludes the last book in the series. Click through to see a slideshow of some of our favorite works from volume one, and let us know which ones you like best in the comments. … Read More

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Everyday Words That Were Invented by Famous Authors

The English language is ever-evolving, and in our current era of instant communication, Twitter, and text-message shorthand, it just might be evolving more quickly than ever. We’ve always been fascinated by the way words are invented and take on meaning, and the way an obscure reference can become ubiquitous in an extremely short period of time — particularly those obscure references that come from our favorite manipulators of language, books. In the interest of pursuing that idea, we decided to take a look at a few everyday words that originated in literature, from plays to poems to novels to children’s books. Click through to see our a few of our favorite literary neologisms, and if you feel the urge, add to our highly incomplete list with your own favorites. … Read More

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10 Great Books To Read Aloud

Tomorrow is World Book Night, an annual celebration dedicated to “spreading the love of reading, person to person.” Tomorrow night, tens of thousands of people all across the US, the UK and Ireland will give away free paperbacks in their communities in order to promote reading and the love of printed books. If you want to spread the love of books in a more personal way, however, we came up with another way to celebrate the evening — by having someone read a book aloud to you, or by reading aloud to one of your friends. After all, reading a book out loud to someone else is one of the best ways to truly share and give a love of reading — at least, this author got hers from being read to every night as a child (and yes, sometimes as a grown up). If you’re in Brooklyn tonight, WORD is hosting a bookish event for the occasion. If not, click through to check out our list of wonderful books to read aloud or have read aloud to you, be sure to suggest your own favorite read-aloud fare in the comments, and then share a story with someone you love tonight! … Read More

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