William Shakespeare

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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10 Books That Would Make Great Theme Parties

We’ve been having a lot of fun with hypothetical party planning over here at Flavorpill — in the past few weeks, we’ve considered which films, albums, and TV shows would make the best theme parties. But since a party isn’t a party without Jay Gatsby’s jazzy blessing and a little bit of Shakespearean place-swapping, we had to round out the experiment with a list of books that we think would inspire the best costumes, decor, and conversation when mixed with a cocktail or two. Click through to check out the theme parties we’d throw around our favorite books, and let us know which novel you’re longing to celebrate in soiree form in the comments. … Read More

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10 of the Best Practical Jokes in Literature

As you may be aware, today is April Fool’s day — and while we won’t be playing any childish pranks here at Flavorpill, we do enjoy a good practical joke or two, especially when said joke is fictional and thus lacking in real-world consequences. Kurt Vonnegut said, “All of fiction is a practical joke—making people care, laugh, cry or be nauseated or whatever by something which absolutely is not going on at all. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, your pants are on fire.'” That may be so, but there are just as many pranksters in the pages of books as there are holding the pens — some innocent, and some not so innocent. Note: practical jokes can range in severity and style, so just so we’re all on the same page, the definition we’re working with is “a mischievous trick played on a person, especially one that causes the victim to experience embarrassment, indignity, or discomfort.” Click through to read our list of ten of the best pranks and practical jokes in literature, and pitch in with any we’ve missed — or just watch Maya Angelou punk Stephen King and Jonathan Franzen. … 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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10 Classic Rom-Com Epiphany Moments

If you just saw Friends with Kids and are considering procreating with your best friend in the hope that it will awaken some latent attraction and end this tortuous search for love already, you’re not alone. But as cultural critics we feel it’s our job, no duty, to point out that although this new rom-com is wonderful and refreshing, it still employs some of the same devices as its predecessors, namely the late-game epiphany. You know what we’re talking about. The moment in which one of the leads realizes their soul mate has been in front of them the whole time. Thanks to dramatic denouement and proper timing, rom-coms have led us to believe it’s a perfectly good idea to date our sex buddies, stepbrothers, and sparring partners. Just click through some of our favorite examples to see what we mean. And as always, we invite you to share your favorites in the comments. … Read More

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The Most Divisive Characters in Literary History

This week, we read an article which sought to answer one of life’s most troubling questions: “Is Holden Caulfield Obnoxious?” Though the Flavorpill office is largely split on this point, your humble author has been squarely in the “yes” camp since she picked up the book at age 13 and put it down ten pages later, brushing off Holden as a pretentious jerk unworthy of her attention. However, I have to admit that this article swayed my feelings a little bit — quite a feat, with such an old grudge on the table.

Regardless, Holden Caulfield remains one of the most controversial literary characters of all time — some love him, some hate him, and some love to hate him. There may even be some people out there who hate to love him. However, Holden’s sheer divisiveness is one of the things that makes him such an interesting character and cultural icon, so we started thinking about a few more of the literary characters we’re destined to keep fighting over for years to come. Click through to read our list, and make sure to let us know which side you weigh in on for each figure in the comments — or, if we’ve missed your favorite controversy, feel free to go on a rant below. … Read More

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10 Great Magical Books for Adults

We’re just as excited as the next guy over the news that J.K. Rowling is writing a novel for adults, and like everyone else, we’re dying to know all the details. Rowling, however, is keeping a tight lid, which leaves us to sit around and speculate, an activity, to be fair, that we rather enjoy. While we don’t know if her new novel is slated to include any magic at all, we like to imagine that it will — after all, she is rather practiced at writing it — but we hope it won’t be another straight-up fantasy novel. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of wonderful and magical books for adults to inspire the great Ms. Rowling (and tide us over!). Now, don’t get us wrong: while there are plenty of fantasy books for adults — Lev Grossman has made a recent splash with his magical college novel The Magicians and its recent sequel The Magician King, and we don’t think anyone would argue that George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is for children, here we’re focusing on non-genre books (that is, not strictly fantasy or sci-fi) that nevertheless manage to include some awe-inspiring magic. Click through to read our list of ten great works of literary fiction that just happen to have a little magic in them, and if we’ve left off your favorite fantastical book for grown-ups, do let us know in the comments! … Read More

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The 10 Best Slacker Novels According to Adam Wilson

Though we’re sure he’s no slouch himself, Adam Wilson sure knows a thing or two about the intricacies of slackerdom. His debut novel Flatscreen, which hit shelves this week, is the hilarious story of professional slacker Eli Schwartz — perpetually stoned, uncomfortably doughy, cheerfully lewd — who is forced to face up to certain facts of life (and required to put on pants) when his (parents’) home is purchased by an aging, sex-addicted ex-TV star in a wheelchair. As you might imagine, hijinks ensue, most of which are relatively unflattering to our friend Eli, but he manages to slouch and whine his way towards a satisfying conclusion. Since he’s the expert, we asked Wilson to tell us about his all-time favorite literary slacker novels — click through to check out his (also very funny) list, and then be sure to tell us about your own preferred misanthropic reads in the comments! … Read More

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