In many of Queens’ 62 library branches, copies of books are being borrowed are in Korean, Chinese or Spanish. A library branch in Astoria, responding to its own diverse readership, carries children’s books in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Gujarati. Striving to cater to the intensifying globalization of its surrounding streets, the New York neighborhood library speaks your language as never before.
How’s this sound: an eight-mile midnight stroll through Fire Island, replete with Socratic dialogue and references to Sappho, Pythagoras, Diogenes and Hippocrates? Such is exactly what you get from Island Night, the latest project of poet Jon Cotner (previously mentioned for his We’re Floating and Poem Forest projects). As the poet explains to the NY Times, his mission with the walks was to revive “the ancient and endangered practices of walking and talking.”
Hannah Withers and Lauren Ross have written about today's state of publishing for McSweeney's. Their conclusion? Young people read more than you. According to Laura Goode, though, moms are reading more YA novels than their kids. Either way, everyone can start reading in the bathtub thanks to waterproof paperbacks.
Amazon released their annual Best Books of the Year: Top 100 in Print list today (as well as a free and helpful Reader’s Guide), and numerous Millions favorites made the cut. Both George Saunders’s Tenth of December and Philipp Meyer’s The Son cracked the top 10. We reviewed both here and here, respectively. Other notable books boasting extensive Millions coverage include Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings (review), George Packer’s The Unwinding (review), Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (review), Dave Eggers’s The Circle (review), James Salter’s All That Is (review), Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove (interview), Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men (review), Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic (review), and Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary (review). Meanwhile, the top spot belongs to Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.
What inspired Wally Lamb's latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women's prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it's like to teach "the incarcerated wounded" and how they have influenced his work. "With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring."
When did Samuel Beckett's "fail better" become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O'Connell traces the history of the phrase. "Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to 'think different' or 'work smarter' or 'just do it.'"