Recommended Reading: This fascinating piece on Vladimir Nabokov and his wife, caretaker, and longtime muse, Véra. Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor: a Family Chronicle made our exhaustive list of difficult books a few years back.
Need some more Jeanette Winterson in your life? The New Statesman is here with a short story. Titled “Gnomon,” it centers on a medieval blacksmith, Stephen, who’s asked to create his town’s first mechanical clock. Sample quote: “Time is irregular. One hour is not the same length as another.”
Booker-snubbed, but still widely anticipated, Philip Hensher's King of Badgers is out today. As are Ali Smith's There But for The, Erin Morgenstern's uber-hyped debut The Night Circus, and The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate, who wrote here about writers' work getting better as they get older.
Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”