Dan Humphrey, a character on Gossip Girl, names his top 10 books of 2009.
The Millions is thrilled to welcome a new staff writer, Ismail Muhammad, whose first piece for the site publishes today. (You may have seen Ismail’s work at Zyzzyva and the Los Angeles Review of Books previously.) He splits his time between Los Angeles and Oakland, where he’s currently working on a dissertation and a novel. Find him on Twitter @trapmotives and Instagram @trapmotifs.
In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
Three weeks ago, Vishwas Gaitonde wrote a piece for us about a house in India once owned by the family of George Orwell. Now, in the Times, Jane Perlez pays a visit to Burma, where Orwell served in the Imperial Police Force and gathered impressions for his first novel, Burmese Days.
How do readers recover from an abominable weekend but with a reading list, in this case one suggested on Twitter by Jay Varner, a writer and instructor based in Charlottesville. Varner links out to 12 articles about “why so many continue to believe an unequivocally false historical narrative surrounding the Confederacy,” including pieces by New Orleans’ mayor Mitch Landrieu, Slate‘s Jamelle Bouie, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose Between the World and Me made our roundup from last year of the best political fiction (yes, we do realize it’s decidedly not fiction).