Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
Recommended recommendations: 21 of the best debut and sophomore works being published this year, compiled by Refinery29. For even more, be sure to check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
The New Yorker’s book blog continues to host “Questioningly,” a so-called Twitter game show. The most recent installment featured the imagined Facebook status updates of literary figures, and was hosted by Ben Greenman. Who, might I add, is on a roll these days over at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency too.
Was Virginia Woolf right that the Brontës were too isolated? Or were they just as housebound as their art required them to be? In the latest Atlantic, Judith Shulevitz examines the lives of the family, teasing out evidence that they all used loneliness to their benefit.