Is readability a myth? In an article for The Atlantic Noah Berlatsky argues that there are no “easy” or “difficult” books, or rather that these are relative terms – a book that gives one person fits may be light reading for someone else. His argument pairs interestingly with our own Emily Colette Wilkinson‘s “Difficult Books” series.
Are you the type of reader who craves the food described in novels like our own Nick Moran? Then take The Guardian’s “Food in fiction” quiz. Sample question: “According to the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, what kind of food is eaten tomorrow, yesterday, but never today?”
“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
“America has always been built—and continues to be built—by those the establishment keeps invisible.” Public Books runs the sixth installment of its “An Engineer Reads a Novel” series, this time taking on Colson Whitehead‘s Underground Railroad and John Henry Days. We also recently reviewed the former, which has been blessed by both Oprah Winfrey and President Obama.
Haruo Shirane writes for Public Books about writing and publishing in the age of English. As he explains it, “For those living in the Anglosphere, no barrier seems to stand between their world and the many other worlds that now appear at the push of a button. But for those outside that world, particularly in non-European countries, the literary and linguistic consequences of globalization in the age of English can often be severe.”
Matthew Salesses talks about moral fiction and how to address prejudice in writing at Electric Lit. A piece of his essay: “The writing of fiction cannot treat marginalized characters as vessels, cannot let the plot play out the racism of under-enlightened protagonists. Perhaps the ultimate conclusion is that one cannot write without prejudice unless one understands that one has prejudice.” Pair with his recent essay at The Millions on plot and the inciting incident.
Year in Reading alum Susan Orlean’s next book will be entitled The Library Book. It will be “a love letter to an endangered institution, exploring their history, their people, their meaning and their future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world.” The book will focus in particular on the unsolved 1986 razing of the Los Angeles Central Library.