The Believer posts a 2003 essay featuring Donald Barthelme’s reading list, which came secondhand to Kevin Moffett, a self-professed non-reader: “Barthelme’s only guidance, passed on by Padgett Powell, one of Barthelme’s former students at the University of Houston and my teacher at the time, was to attack the books ‘in no particular order, just read them,’ which is exactly what I, in my confident illiteracy, resolved to do.” (via The Paris Review)
“You should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children,” Ruth Graham wrote in Slate last week, stirring the proverbial pot of new adult fans of Young Adult bestsellers like The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park. A host of YA-defenders rose up to shout her down. “You should never be embarrassed by any book you enjoy,” Hillary Kelly responds in The New Republic, unrealistically (we’re embarrassed by quite a lot). For the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg cites examples of worthwhile, complex YA fiction we can certainly support: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Pushcart War, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Westing Game.
A new study says that book readers live two years longer than their non-reading counterparts. As they explain it, “While most sedentary behaviors are well-established risk factors for mortality in older individuals, previous studies of a behavior that is often sedentary, reading… have not compared the health benefits of reading-material type.” Pair with this Millions essay on private libraries and what books reveal about their readers.
“The greatest mistake the American writer ever made was asking everybody else what they thought of their writing. Look around your current writing workshop. Look right and left. Most of those people will stop writing. Because it’s too hard, they have no ideas, no one understands them, whatever. A few of those failed people will become editors. These are the only people in the room who should ever really matter to you.”
We’re pleased to announce a new feature here on The Millions, “Ask the Writing Teacher.” Our own Edan Lepucki will now be taking your questions about all things writing related, dialogue, plot, point of view, or other elements of writing that might be putting a pickle in your prose. Send your questions her way at askthewritingteacher[at]gmail[dot]com
When I was a kid, I read the whole Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and never thought about it being “for girls.” At Slate, Emily Bazelon writes about why it’s wrong that “the conventional educational wisdom holds that boys don’t like to read about girls.”The New York Public Library’s 25 Books to Remember from 2005 (via Conversational Reading)It’s Perfectly Normal, a sex education book by Robie H. Harris tops the American Library Association’s list of 10 Most Challenged Books of 2005. Also on the list: The Catcher in the Rye and the Captain Underpants series.The Ten Worst Autobiographies as listed by The Independent. Not sure where else you’d find Hillary Clinton, James Frey and Hitler on the same list. (via Books Inq.)A New Orleans resident auctions off a bunch of “first-edition books, handwritten manuscripts and letters by Beat Generation writers” to raise money for Jon and Gypsy Lou Webb who published some of Charles Bukowski’s earlest works and were left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.
“At bottom, the argument about copyright is not really a philosophical argument. It’s a battle between interest groups.” Louis Menand writes about American copyright law in the digital age for The New Yorker, and his essay pairs well with the many articles on copyright we’ve published over the years.
Lev Grossman is ready to dub John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Blood-Horses and, more recently, Pulphead, “the next Tom Wolfe,” and NPR‘s Dan Kois agrees that he might be “the best magazine writer around.” Elsewhere, Zach Baron writes an interesting profile of the author for The Daily.