Books by Friends, a semi-regular feature at The Atlantic, sees writer James Fallows recommend the works of authors he knows. This week, he praises a book on the history of flight, a prediction for the economy and a jeremiad on American politics by Gary Hart. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on Fallows and American decline.
“[H]is authentic education as a reader began not while he was a history major at N.Y.U. or working at a literary agency in Manhattan but at the Green Haven Correctional Facility, in Stormville, New York. There, he offered, he had read a thousand and forty-six books.” Alex Halberstadt writes about “A Prisoner’s Reading List” for The New Yorker. It’s available online, and soon a lot more New Yorker articles will be too.
Serious reading is harder than ever. With so many distractions around, it’s incredibly difficult for a novel to keep our attention. In The Nation, Joanna Scott makes a case that careful reading is in danger, and builds a case for preserving difficult fiction. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on trying to teach Thomas Pynchon.
The Orient Express began service on this day in 1883—Paris to Istanbul in 83.5 hours. Agatha Christie may be the most famous writer to have capitalized on the train’s romantic allure, but the list of books begins decades before her (Dracula, for example) and goes for decades after.
“Loss isn’t science; it’s a human reckoning.” The New York Times posts an e-mail conversation between Joyce Carol Oates and Meghan O’Rourke on why we write about grief, following the release of Oates’ memoir A Widow’s Story and in anticipation of O’Rourke’s own memoir of loss, The Long Goodbye.