Zadie Smith

50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

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. … Read More

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25 Authors Who Wrote Great Books Before They Turned 25

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

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50 Excellent Novels by Female Writers Under 50 That Everyone Should Read

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

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Stereotyping Your College Roommate by Their Favorite Book

As we approach the time of the year when students start trickling in to college campuses, decorating their dorm rooms with stuff from IKEA and Target and trying really hard to sound like they know what they’re talking about, many incoming freshmen are surely wondering what their new roommates will be like. And although the surveys schools use to match night owls and messy kids with others who share their habits may cover the basics, you can tell a lot more about a person by looking at the prized books they lug along with them to make sure their classmates can tell how cultured they are. Here are a few common picks, and what they say about the 18-year-old who loves them. … Read More

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11 Hilarious Women in Pop Culture (Who Aren’t Comedians)

It’s a fact: women are funny. Comedians like Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, and the Broad City babes are making the world better with every weird joke that they make. But there’s also a strain of really awesome humor out there, coming from witty women working in (nominally) serious art forms. Whether it’s a laconic singer-songwriter who’s one-liner city or very serious writers who are writing for the very serious The New Yorker, there are all sorts of women whose work can use humor as a deadly weapon. Here’s a list of pop culture’s funniest women who aren’t professional jokesters, per se. … Read More

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Gabriel García Márquez on Shakira and 5 Other Authors’ Fascinating Rock Star Profiles

“The most amazing thing about the Shakira phenomenon is the craze that has gripped masses of children.” The late Gabriel García Márquez wrote that in his 2002 profile on Shakira for The Guardian. Even when covering one of the biggest pop stars in the world, the Nobel Prize winner’s music writing doesn’t rank anywhere near his classics like One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, but it does earn a spot alongside a few of our other favorite rock star/writer pairings. … Read More

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Listen to 15 Literary Icons Reading Their Own Work

One of the most important experiences you can have with your favorite author is to hear them read aloud from their works. But many of us will never get the chance to see our most beloved writer in the flesh. So, after the jump is a collection of 15 writers — some alive, some long gone — reading their own words (all fiction, with the exception of William Faulkner, whose Nobel Prize speech is included because it’s now often taught alongside his novels and stories, and Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking).  … Read More

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10 Authors on James Joyce

Happy birthday to literature’s modernist master, James Joyce. Writers are still finding devastatingly beautiful ways to describe the impact that the Ulysses author continues to have on their work, paying homage to one of the most innovative writers of the twentieth century. Here are ten authors on the Irish novelist’s work, life, and enduring influence. … Read More

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What 10 of Your Favorite Cultural Icons Were Up To in College

Thanks to BuzzFeed’s entertaining roundup, we’ve discovered Mindy Kaling’s college comic strip, Badly Drawn Girl. A shrewd look at the facts of coed life, from frat bros to dining hall food, it’s a peek at what Kaling’s comic sensibilities were like long before she wound up in The Office‘s writers’ room. Other cultural notables have had their fair share of cool college projects, too. We took the liberty of looking up what some of our favorite famous people were up to while they were still living in dorm rooms. … Read More

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