In the wake of Jonathan Franzen's much discussed New Yorker essay on Edith Wharton, Laura Miller defends readers who look to an author's life to aid their understanding of a given work: " Byron’s clubfoot, Flannery O’Connor’s lupus, Coleridge’s opium addiction and whatever was wrong with Hemingway do interest many readers because these factors shaped the life experiences from which the great work sprang."
Renaissance Learning has released its annual report on what children are reading. The NYDaily News books blog takes offense at some of the more popular books named in the report, suggesting that kids and teens deserve to be challenged by better literature. The Huffington Post mines through the report to discover that American teenagers on average are still reading at or near the level of fifth graders.
Last week, I wrote about Caleb Crain’s entry in By Heart, a series at The Atlantic in which prominent writers talk about their favorite passages. Now, & Sons author David Gilbert talks about Moby Dick, which he says is “one of a few books [he’s] dreamed about.”