We’ve already decided that it’s okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. “I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked,” Cheryl Strayed said.
Fans of Mary Karr‘s The Liar’s Club and Cherry: At the New York Times Book Review, Susan Cheever describes Karr’s latest memoir, Lit, as “the best book about being a woman in America I have read in years.”
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A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
“Echoes are etched into the pages thanks to margin-scrawled notes, a yellowed coffee splatter or sticky peanut-butter-and-jelly fingerprints.” In her project “Expired,” photographer Kerry Mansfield documents the life of library books. We suggest pairing The Guardian‘s gallery of her photos with our own Jacob Lambert‘s “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
“7 Awesome Ways Barnyard Animals Are Like Communism.” From McSweeneys, great literature retitled to boost website traffic.