According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages -- in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
Fun fact: Up until the late 1940s, science fiction novels really didn’t exist. Andrew Liptak writes about the rise of the paperback novel and the evolution of science fiction for Kirkus Reviews. Pair with Nichole Bernier's Millions essay on "The Point of the Paperback."
"When she was at Radcliffe, Gertrude Stein always wore black and refused to wear a corset. Samuel Beckett liked Wallabee boots and Aran sweaters and settled on his hairstyle when he was 17." Proving that author worship is still alive and well, The New York Times reviews a new book called Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore. Come for Mark Twain's white suit; stay for Zadie Smith's head wraps. Semi-related: how clothing makes the (fictional) woman and man.
Recommended reading: "One of the drillers fell to his knees. Some sobbed, in the way men do when their mothers die, or when their sons are born." An exceptional and deeply moving long-form essay in the New Yorker recounting the 69 days spent underground by the famed '33' Chilean miners buried in the 2010 accident at Copiapó.
“A lot of writers are big readers. Very often, when you’re writing your day’s work, something you write will remind you of something that you read. And the thing that you read shines a kind of light on the sentences that you’re writing. So I think it would be very hard to write without having read a great deal.” Listen to Salman Rushdie chat with Paul Holdengraber about poetry, film, and his latest project. Liam Hoare writes on the implications of Rushdie’s fatwa.