Reflecting on the sales figures of Lean In and How to Win Friends and Influence People, Sarah L. Corteau wonders: could it be that self-help is America’s quintessential genre? (You could also read Alan Levinowitz on the paradox of Christian self-help books.)
Anyone who’s read The Divine Comedy knows that rivalries and petty grudges are timeless. To further prove the point, Mallory Ortberg provided this list, which details the cattiest lines from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Sample quote: “Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has skill and knowledge?”
Doors of Perception author Aldous Huxley requested a dose of LSD as he succumbed to laryngeal cancer in 1963. Three weeks later, Huxley’s widow, Laura Archera, wrote a letter describing the experience (“the most beautiful death”) to her brother-in-law. Today the prescription of psychedelic drugs to terminally ill patients is less uncommon than you might expect.
At Guernica, Kirsten O’Regan delves into labiaplasty, a “relatively unregulated, frequently botched” and scarily popular new surgery. The oddest (and saddest) thing she learns about the procedure? Apparently a lot of young mothers urge their daughters to do it.
When The Counselor (trailer here) opens in theaters this month, the occasion will mark a career milestone for Cormac McCarthy. The 80-year-old novelist has been writing original screenplays since the 1970s, but only one of them – a made-for-TV movie called The Gardener’s Son – was produced before this latest effort. Over at The Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter takes a look at the author’s involvement in the production of The Counselor, as well as its reception by several film industry insiders and devout McCarthy fans. (“McCarthy writing a sex scene is maybe not a great idea,” one of them says.)
“Does handwriting matter?” That’s the question some researchers are working to answer and that Maria Konnikova tackles in a piece for The New York Times. The article ends by suggesting that “with handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important… maybe it helps you think better,” which is doubtlessly encouraging to every writer who works on their drafts in longhand.
This is cool: in celebration of last week’s Banned Books Week, Chapel Hill Public Library held a competition for local artists to create new work based on books that have been banned or challenged. Trading cards were printed from the winning selections, which you can see along with a gallery of all the entries.