Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”
Damian Lewis is going from being a traitor of a country to running one. He will star as Henry VIII in the BBC’s adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Mark Rylance will play Thomas Cromwell (though previously he’s played another role in the court, Sir Thomas Boleyn.)
“Does handwriting matter?” That’s the question some researchers are working to answer and that Maria Konnikova tackles in a piece for The New York Times. The article ends by suggesting that “with handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important… maybe it helps you think better,” which is doubtlessly encouraging to every writer who works on their drafts in longhand.
“I Didn’t Tell Facebook I’m Engaged, So Why Is It Asking About My Fiancé?” or, FB continues to make people feel a little awkward.
Out this week: The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones; A Stranger in My Own Country by Hans Fallada; Teresa, My Love by Julia Kristeva; an omnibus edition of John le Carré’s first three novels; Ticket to Childhood by Nguyen Nhat Anh; and a new volume of letters by Mark Twain. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.