Despite what we might think, smartphones aren’t destroying good reading habits. Rather, smartphones are enabling access to books in developing countries, according to a new study. They allow readers to find books in remote parts of the world without libraries and at a cheaper price.
Have novels about love lost their gravitas as women’s liberation and divorce culture have taken over? Adelle Waldman doesn’t think so. In The New Yorker, she defends the timelessness of the marriage plot. “As long as marriage and love and relationships have high stakes for us emotionally, they have the potential to offer rich subject material for novelists, no matter how flimsy or comparatively uninteresting contemporary relationships seem on their surface.” Pair with: Our Jeffrey Eugenides essay on writing The Marriage Plot, which is referenced several times in Waldman’s essay.
Recommended Reading: An excerpt from comedian and Year In Reading alum Rob Delaney’s memoir, Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. “I haven’t been to war, so I can’t comment on what that experience is like, but people who go through rehab or a halfway house walk a tough road together and not all of them make it.”
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
It’s not always a given that good people make good characters. Over at The Atlantic, Tony Tulathimutte explains how none other than one Philip Roth taught him the importance of showing every aspect of your characters–even the bad ones. Here’s an older piece from the same series in which Paul Lisicky writes about Flannery O’Connor and her “flawed characters.”