In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)
In Meg Wolitzer’s new YA novel Belzhar, a group of teenagers packed off to an idyllic boarding school learn that they have the ability to undo their most serious traumas. Their discovery is sparked by a writing assignment in a class on Sylvia Plath. At Slate, Jennifer Ray Morell connects Wolitzer’s novel to Plath's classic The Bell Jar. Related: our own Hannah Gersen’s interview with biographer Elizabeth Winder.
We're a little late to The Guardian's Families in Literature series, which includes essays on everyone from the March sisters to the Moomins and has been running for the last few weeks. A particular favorite is Moira Redmond's look at Brideshead Revisited's Flytes and the strange but true power of falling in love with an entire family, which pairs well with our own Lydia Kiesling's Modern Library Revue of the novel.
Emily Witt checks out Melville House's new Hybrid Books for The New York Observer. The publisher says they are “an innovative publishing program that gives print books the features of enhanced eBooks.”
One big round of applause for everyone; according to a new study, if you read books you will earn more money. Importantly, the cap seems to be around ten books per year–any more than this and the correlation between books read and income per year dissipates. But don't let that stop you!
Last week, I wrote about the disparity between Norman Rockwell’s inner life and the cheerful art that made the painter famous. In the new issue of The Atlantic, James Parker writes about the “unconscious energy” of Rockwell’s work, while on the magazine’s website, Jennie Rothenberg Gritz republishes an old article that examines how Rockwell’s style could seem outdated even in the fifties.