Point: “Repeated surveys show that children spend less time reading than did previous generations. They instead devote many hours of their waking lives to electronic screens of one kind or another.” Counterpoint: “Generation Y, those born between 1979 and 1989, spent the most money on books in 2011, taking over long-held book-buying leadership from baby boomers…with 43 percent of GenY’s purchases going to online channels, they are adding momentum to the industry shift to digital.” Conclusion?
“I’ve learnt so much from this profound novelist about nuance, understatement, technique.” Eighteen handwritten homages to Jane Austen by well-known writers are up for auction until tomorrow. Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, and Ian McEwan are among the authors whose tributes will raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature, reports The Guardian. And read our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
Even though the advice to "kill your darlings" implies editing your writing is a painful process, some writers relish it. At The New York Times, Pamela Erens discusses the pleasures of trimming down her writing. "For every word I cut, I seem to have more space between my ribs, more lung capacity." For more Erens, read her essay on accepting her book cover.
In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there's a different kind of classic that's worth revisiting and questioning. "You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
Book Riot reports that Planned Parenthood "staged a protest of the GOP’s healthcare (or lack thereof) bill" with red-robed Handmaids. Pair with Tara Wanda Merrigan's review of the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood's classic: "While transforming Offred into a stereotypically empowered representation of a woman may make the show more appealing to some viewers, I found it disheartening."