Recommended reading: Ben Shattuck spends a night and a day aboard a New England whaling ship in an attempt to better understand Ishmael’s (and Melville‘s) experiences, and combines Moby-Dick excerpts with his own accounts of life onboard in a piece for The Atlantic.
"Why do we lust for lists?" Sandra M. Gilbert may not have an answer, but she does have a response to all those "100 Best American Novels" lists (and a list of her own). The Millions has a few lists too, of course - be sure to check out Janet Potter's "28 Books You Should Read If You Want To."
“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne's Millions review.
Most readers have their own idiosyncratic systems for displaying the most valuable titles they own. For a lot of people, it makes the most sense to keep their favorite books on a particular shelf. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein writes about an odd phenomenon -- “The Phantom Shelf,” which consists of books you love so much you had to lend them to friends. (Related: Kevin Hartnett on reading our parents’ bookshelves.)
Jason Diamond looks at why "books are in [such] abundant supply in the menswear world."