The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century — namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.
So you got a new Kindle for Christmas, and you’ve loaded it up with all our ebook recommendations? That’s great, but it may not be enough. Best to add a few ebooks to impress anyone who happens to come across your e-reader, just in case, and McSweeney’s has just the list.
A South Korean designer has created “a translucent plastic tray with a slot for your reading material – be it paper, magazine or book – and a specially marked spot for mugs.” The idea is to prevent unfortunate coffee spills from ruining your morning newspaper. Or, you know, you could just stop being so clumsy.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.