Recommended reading: “A Book Buyer’s Lament,” from Ken Kalfus for the New Yorker.
"What made The Great Gatsby so great? Does everyone think he’s that great? Why?" Just in time for the back-to-school rush: essay questions from a teacher who didn't finish any of the required reading (a.k.a. McSweeney's).
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It's actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers' unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
Writers have long been attracted to duels, if only because, for the most part, they offer an easy way to ramp up the conflict in a story. At Page-Turner, James Guida takes a look at their enduring relevance, with reference to the history of the duel in Europe. Pair with: our own Nick Moran on duels in Russian literature.
Are critically acclaimed authors really terrible? Is feminism bad for women? New York Magazine runs down the greatest hits of what appears, in hindsight, to have been the Decade of Counterintuition (and, in the process, catalogues many of my personal bêtes noires).