It’s bye week over at Football Book Club. And while there’s no new book to read this week — everybody’s resting up, licking their wounds, and sticking pins in Jay Cutler voodoo dolls — you, gentle reader, should be sure to check in for new posts on Louisa Hall’s Speak — and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts.
Does reading a novel for a few hours make you feel smarter? You’re not alone: a new study suggests that reading novels heightens activity in the left temporal cortex, also known as the part of the brain associated with receptivity to language. The best part? The changes last for five days.
If you’re a professor or mentor, it’s the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. “He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends.” Even if the government didn’t like Whitman’s work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the power of Whitman’s poetry.
“Once certain hurdles are cleared (a bit of talent, years of work), being a writer is like flying a kite in a storm in a field full of people flying kites in a storm.” Garth Greenwell on writing his first novel, the importance of failure, and giving oneself privacy to make mistakes. Pair with Meredith Turits’s Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
Recommended Reading: this essay by Sophia Knight on why she decided to quit her high-stakes job as a corporate editor in favor of a more modest writer’s income. If it’s publishing stories you’re after, here’s an old Millions favorite on whether or not to self-publish.