Don’t feel embarrassed about that trashy novel you’re reading at the beach because summer reading has existed since the 19th Century. Craig Fehrman breaks down the history of pleasure reading. Also, check out our list of alternative “beach” books.
“Grim was the world and grey last night / The moon and stars were fled.” It looks like even J.R.R. Tolkien might have been a an angsty teen. Two previously unseen poems by the legendary author have been found in a forgotten annual printed by a small primary school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, in 1936. For another Tolkien-related blast from the past, here is W.H. Auden’s review of The Return of the King, book three of the Lord of the Rings series.
“Emily Brontë teaches us that fiction is not defined by what an author has done, but what an author has felt. To write is often to observe, not necessarily to experience. It is possible to be strong, independent, and still be at home; there is nothing limiting or weak about the ‘domestic’ life. Daily life is not to be avoided—in fact, it can be our most fruitful source of truth.” These and other helpful life lessons from the Brontë sisters over at The Daily Beast. How did the sisters even get their start as writers, anyway?
Are we now living in a golden age of the uncanny? The Millions contributor Porochista Khakpour suspects that we are, and she also suspects that our historical moment, populated as it is with alienating developments and surreal art, is key to understanding the work of Helen Oyeyemi. In the Times, Khakpour reviews Oyeyemi’s new novel. (You could also read both writers’ Year in Reading pieces.)
Over at Guernica, Liza St. James interviews Adam Z. Levy and Ashley Nelson Levy, the founders of the independent press Transit Books. As they put it, “We were noticing this kind of partition between two types of readerships: those who read domestic literature and those who read translation. […] We were interested in the separation of those literary spheres, and began to wonder how to bridge the gap between them.”