"Books: As with food and clothing, they’re a commodity that elicits status anxiety for many people, particularly the insecure. And wherever there is status anxiety, there are potential minefields. We need to tread with the lightness of meringue." Henry Alford explains the etiquette of books for The New York Times.
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, neurologists look at cases where serious brain injury has actually brought about higher levels of creativity in artists, particularly where linguistic ability is harmed. “Language is the bully of the brain," [one neurologist] says. "It takes up its own space and if something else gets crowded out, too bad." (via Book Bench)
Recommended reading: one essay on George Orwell's stomping grounds on the Scottish island where he wrote 1984 in the throes of a tubercular fever, and another on the tiny Indian town of Motihari where he was born.
Anyone who’s majored in the humanities has likely heard warnings that it's better to major in the sciences. If, as many would have it, we live in a scientist’s world, what place is there for the arts? At the Ploughshares blog, Cathe Shubert finds a place for writers in a STEM-obsessed society. You could also read Cathy Day on the job prospects of writers.
After the passing of Gabriel García Márquez, the team of Reed Johnson, Juan Forero, and Sara Munoz had cause to opine within the pages of the Wall Street Journal, who are the other “post-boom Spanish-language fiction writers whose works continue to redraw the map of Latin literature?” They list six suggestions, but I think one of the names on that list would've disagreed with the comparison. (Bonus: An unpublished Márquez manuscript may be on the way as well.)
Read our own Kaila Philo's essay on Toni Morrison's new book The Origin of Others and then pair it with Nell Irvin Painter's reflection on 'Toni Morrison’s Radical Vision of Otherness.' "Morrison’s history of Othering represents an intervention in history on several fronts. Although the theme of desegregating the literary canon reappears in The Origin of Others, times have changed since Playing in the Dark. Surely thanks to the more multicultural, multiracial canon that Morrison helped foster, no respectable version of American literature today omits writers of color."