Need a hit of inspiration? In Sarah Stodola‘s fascinating new book Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors, we see what drives genius. Whether it’s “autodidacts,” “nine-to-fivers,” or “slow and steady,” among others, Stodola takes an intimate and well-researched look inside the habits and traditions of 18 of your favorite writers (including David Foster Wallace, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, and George Orwell), habits that have led to the production of some of our greatest canonical works. Process goes on shelves (and online) January 20th.
Read an exclusive preview, which looks at Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith’s very different approaches to technology and the Internet’s role their writing, below.
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Is there a teen in your life who you want to arm with gifts that will help him or her survive being a teen? Sure, kids these days are more Internet-savvy than ever, so the likelihood that you can serve as the cool aunt/uncle/cousin/older sibling who introduces someone to their favorite _______ has never been lower. But the holidays are for good-faith efforts, so here are some suggestions of books, movies, and albums today’s teens might be into, but aren’t yet. Worst-case scenario, you’ll give your teen the gift of feeling like they have better taste than you did at their age.
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Here’s a dirty little secret about books and liking books and the fact that people who are real-life people write books: more often than not, a book reading is deadly boring. A writer will read something that they’ve written and answer some questions, and it’s all very boilerplate. So it’s a pleasant surprise when a writer is dynamite in person, whether they’re reading their work or responding to questions with confidence and something like charisma. In the best live appearances, writers are able to cast a spell over the audience. Here are 50 authors who make that achievement look… Read More
Last night, Lena Dunham brought her 12-city book tour behind Not That Kind of Girl back home with a variety show of quirk, feminism, and friendship for Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Unbound series. The 90-minute event moved quickly, starting with cat-driven stand-up from Mike Birbiglia and a three-song set from Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers (familiar to Not That Kind of Girl readers in the role of good-guy boyfriend). Dunham read two pieces from her nonfiction collection — an essay about her younger sister, Grace, and one of the book’s humorous lists of gaffes — to the intimate crowd, which included her mother Laurie Simmons and actor Jon Glaser (Parks and Recreation) sitting in the front row. Then the show really began.
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Perhaps in college you were interested in the surrealists, and you played Exquisite Corpse. Or, more likely, perhaps in… Read More
For a reader, there’s something magical about picking up a first novel — that promise of discovery, the possibility of finding a new writer whose work you can love for years to come, the likelihood of semi-autobiography for you to mull over. The debut is even more important for the writer — after all, you only get one first impression. Luckily, there are a lot of fantastic first impressions to be had. Click through for some of the greatest first novels written since 1950 — some that sparked great careers, some that are still the writers’ best work, and some that remain free-standing.… Read More
It’s fair to say that the “New York essay” is having a moment. Or maybe it’s always having a moment. But with Sari Botton’s two anthologies about loving and leaving and just having a great time in New York (last year’s Goodbye to All That and this month’s Never Can Say Goodbye), and former Granta editor John Freeman’s upcoming Tales of Two Cities: The Best and Worst Times in Today’s New York, one thing is sure: in 2014, the New York City essay is bountiful.
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It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list.
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Picture it: teenage Mary Shelley was on a vacation getaway, with her husband Percy and some of his rambunctious poet friends, like that rogue Lord Byron… and out of the group of legends, it’s Shelley herself who arguably published the greatest work of all at the ridiculous age of 30: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, a book that has penetrated our human consciousness. In honor of Shelley’s birthday this month, here’s a list of 25 other writers who created heartbreakingly beautiful work before they could get a discount on a rental… Read More
It’s pretty much been settled that everyone should read more books by women. But when looking for recommendations, it’s often all Woolf, Morrison, Lessing, Austen, Brontë. Of course, these are essential authors for a reason, and you should definitely read all of their books. That said, there’s something to catching a writer at the beginning of her career and following her for years that is supremely satisfying — not to mention the fact that young female writers need readers rather more than Jane Austen does. So in an effort to get you in on the ground floor (or at least, like, the third floor), here’s a compendium of 50 novels written by 50 female novelists under 50 that are worth your… Read More