With a huge winter storm bearing down on the East Coast, the Hopkinton library in Massachusetts did the only sensible thing: they erected a sign extolling the virtues of curling up with a book. What makes theirs unique is that, unlike many of their peers, they found a way to avoid the “warm yourself up” cliché. (Previously spotted on Reddit: “What are some good books to read [in jail?]”)
Just when you thought I wouldn’t make you sad about Alan Rickman again, here he is starring in a film adaptation of one of Samuel Beckett’s short plays. In case you missed it last time, these recordings of Rickman reading from Shakespeare, Proust, and Thomas Hardy will surely generate some feelings.
“Like characters in a somewhat less swashbuckling Jack London novel, these are all characters, and writers, who are grappling with their environments.” Our own Lydia Kiesling writes for Salon about the “caucasian, Ivy-educated writers of literary fiction set in Brooklyn” and the novels they’re producing, particularly the just-released-yesterday Friendship by Emily Gould.
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.
Using pen names has been a common practice for, well, a very long time. George Eliot is a nom de plume, as are George Orwell and George Sand. Though not a George, journalist Sarah Hall chose to publish her fiction under a different name. She writes for The Guardian about this decision, the history of the pen name, and the reasons authors continue to use them.