Curious what the Obamas will be reading over Christmas? The Scrutinizer in Chief stopped by Upshur Books in Washington, D.C. on Small Business Saturday to selected a nice little haul for the winter break with titles ranging from Jonathan Franzen’s Purity to Rachel Renée Russell’s Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life.
Jill Abramson, fired last week from her post as New York Times executive editor, broke her silence today with her commencement address at Wake Forest. “I’m talking to anyone who has been dumped,” she said. “Not gotten the job you really wanted or received those horrible rejection letters from grad school. You know, the sting of losing, or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.” Video here.
Say you find yourself transported 6,000 years in the past – would you still be able to talk to your fellow English-speakers?
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Since his death in 1950, George Orwell has grown more and more popular, so much so that his eponymous adjective is now widely used even by ideological enemies. So how did this state of affairs come about? In the new Intelligent Life, an offshoot of The Economist, Robert Butler delves into the story of how Orwell became an icon. Pair with: Vishwas Gaitonde on his visit to Orwell’s birthplace.
On the persistent popularity and flexibility of Cinderella, from old folktales featuring talking gourds all the way to the upcoming Disney version, from NPR.
If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.