Believe it or not, Fifty Shades of Grey was still the bestselling book of 2015. For a fascinating, in-depth look at what sold and what didn’t, head over to The Guardian. The disconnect between the retail top ten and the myriad year-end lists alone is worth the look.
What does it mean to be cool? According to scholar Joel Dinerstein, it means a person who conveys “relaxed intensity.” Using this definition, Dinerstein and Frank Goodyear III curated a photography exhibition of “American Cool” at National Portrait Gallery. The portraits feature everyone from Joan Didion to David Byrne.
Recommended Listening: Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life, on Otherppl with Brad Listi. “It was draining in ways that I didn’t really realize until the book was done.” Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s piece on life in the works of Yanagihara and Atticus Lish.
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.”
Art Spiegelman spoke with NPR’s Weekend Edition about his issues with depth perception, his work habits, his changing art interests, and how Maus came about. Bonus: Charles-Adam Foster-Simard checked out the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Spiegelman exhibit last summer.
“Well, is ‘addiction’ what a literary writer should want in readers? And if a writer accepts such addiction, or even rejoices in it, as Murakami seems to, doesn’t it put pressure on him, as pusher, to offer more of the same?” Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers who keep producing more of the same to please hungry readers.