Amazon has churned out a number of top books lists this year. We’ve already mentioned the Editors’ Top 100 Books, but there’s also the Customers’ Top 100 Books, the Top 10 Literature and Fiction, the Top 10 Cookbooks, and the Top 10 Science Books.
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
We give up a book for many reasons: it was too long, the writing was dull, it was written by E.L. James. Goodreads has charted just when and why we abandon books. Catch-22 is the number one abandoned book. (Confession: I didn't finish it either.) Also, see our article on the pressures of finishing novels in the age of literary social media.
What's the one thing that Rivka Galchen envies about men? Well, "the envious thought was simply that a man can have a baby that his romantic partner doesn’t know about. This is a crazy thought, of course, but I find myself feeling it with such sincerity that I cannot see its edges."
In 1945 and 1946, the FBI began keeping tabs on Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The Cold War was just around the corner, and the Bureau suspected their new targets were secretly agents of Communism. However, FBI agents who followed the French writers evolved in the course of their spying: they became, in G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, “philosophical policemen.” (h/t Slate)
You might think the signs would be obvious. The buildings are organic, the sky is filled with dragons, and everyone you talk to speaks languages you’ve never heard of. But you may still need some help figuring out your environs. Herewith, a few ways to tell if you’re in a high-fantasy novel.