There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there’s a different kind of classic that’s worth revisiting and questioning. “You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
As part of their Sunday Interview series, The Rumpus had a chat with Leslie Jamison, who talked to Martha Bayne about The Empathy Exams, the ubiquity of Frozen and the pathos of Taylor Swift. If you like, you could also take a look at our own Edan Lepucki’s interview with Jamison, or else read Ryan Teitman’s review of The Empathy Exams.
Quartz has a roundup of the books Hillary Clinton borrowed from the State Department library during her time as Secretary of State, including a memoir, poetry, and a lot of non-fiction. Pair with our piece about what private libraries reveal about their readers.
Writer’s block: the eternal struggle, right? Thankfully, Ted Scheinman asked some of his favorite writers for their remedies, and he compiled them into a helpful list. “Do try these solutions, alone or in combination,” he urges. “’Mix and match’ is the cry.” (Related: You can also check out the “daily routines of famous creative people” for inspiration, as well.)
There’s been an incredible amount of both excitement and controversy ever since Harper Lee‘s publisher announced the upcoming publication of Go Set a Watchman, the reclusive author’s second novel. But in a piece for Ploughshares Cathe Shubert wonders “Why not marvel at what all this hullabaloo in the news really signifies: that books still matter, deeply, to the American public–especially books that spark dialogue about interracial relations, justice, and, as Atticus would say, walking in another person’s shoes.”
Charles Yu’s new collection of stories, Sorry Please Thank You, is out today, and so is Tana French’s novel Broken Harbor. Both were on our Great Second Half of 2012 Books Preview. Leigh Stein’s new book of poems, Dispatch from the Future is also in stores today, alongside Ali Smith’s There But For The in paperback.
The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)