“It turned out that the most successful Christmas records tended to have two common qualities: catchy, upbeat melodies and imagined unlikely scenarios for anthropomorphized yuletide characters.” Move over, Frosty! It’s beginning to look a lot like … an unseasonably warm December. Here is a brief history of Christmas songs and of their often-surprising rise from corny kitsch to global sensation.
Get ready for the return of Breaking Bad by reading Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu in the LARB, and also by reading Max Rivlin-Nadler’s piece in The Nation. Or, if you want to take a walk down memory lane, check out Chuck Klosterman’s piece from last year in which he convincingly argued that Walter White’s odyssey makes for best drama on television. Lastly, here’s some good news for those among you who subscribe to DirectTV and are thus locked out of AMC: you can stream tonight’s episode on the company’s website.
“[G]uess what, spending hours of your spare time plowing through some dense and symbol-laden carnival of affectation and ambiguity only makes you resentful of the publishing industry that pushed the book on you in the first place.” Alex Balk at The Awl takes the piss out of recent studies that have suggested reading literary fiction might make us better people. Writer John Vaillant, whom we interviewed last year, might disagree.
“They might underline a page number, draw a little star on the last page, or write their first initial somewhere in the book.” A librarian in Scotland discovered a secret code used by elderly patrons to track which books they already read. From our archives: an essay on the importance of libraries and how they can stay relevant.
Fanny Trollope, Anthony’s mother, taught America a thing or two about decency and feminism: her scathing pen wrote books about the excesses of American society and its alienation of women. Over at Bloom, Cynthia Miller Coffel writes about this trailblazing woman who should be considered “the patron saint of middle aged women writers.”