“When we read a book that requires that effort — when the act of reading becomes rigorous and self-aware, rather than effortless and transparent — we get to have a history with what we’ve given ourselves to, a history etched into us by the demanding friction of its difficulty.” Zoë Heller and Leslie Jamison debate whether or not we overvalue difficult literature in The New York Times.
“Rather than outlining your plot in chronological order, try outlining your plot as if it were a candle burning at both ends. Begin the process by writing your first and last chapter simultaneously.” Amazon Author Insights gathers, well, insights on writing from Dan Brown and other famous crime and thriller novelists. (Full disclosure: Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!) We will also never not recommend this evergreen piece from our own archives, of writers on the best advice they ever received.
"It’s corrosive going down, you wonder if he had to add quite so much vinegar and horseradish, but afterward the effect is invigorating." Aaron Thier at The Nation reviews Rafael Chirbes' newest novel, On The Edge. The book admittedly gives no pleasure, yet is nonetheless worth reading as it operates like more of a "psychological health tonic," instead.
Recommended listening: 19 Rare Recordings of Famous Authors Reading, as compiled by Mental Floss, including the likes of Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway and Flannery O'Connor. For a different perspective on the word "rare" as applied to digital culture, be sure to read Rex Sorgatz's recent piece for Medium, "You Need to Hear this Extremely Rare Recording."