Attention! The finalists for the 2016 Oddest Book Title of the Year award have been announced — my personal favorite has to be Reading From Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus. Pair with the ever exciting Bad Sex in Fiction award and you’ve got yourself your own little literary Oscars party.
Charles Dickens turns 200 in February, which is one good explanation for two new biographies (Charles Dickens: A Life) and (Becoming Dickens) appearing just in time. But even more importantly, why is now the perfect time to read him? Here’s one hint: the man’s vast social imagination.
Freedom the program might not actually be so freeing: “It has been argued that a chronic fever of distraction and fascination arrives on waves of Wi-Fi to stunt our attention spans, encouraging writers to paddle about, tweeting and liking, instead of striking out for deeper waters…” But maybe writers need distraction, after all. (Then again: a detox might do you good.)
“He combed through the sahaflar, the second-hand bookshops that line the streets around the Grand Bazaar, their dusty wares stacked on haphazard tables. He sat by the New Mosque, drinking tea out of tulip-shaped cups, playing backgammon, and watching the fishermen’s wooden boats launch into the dirty waters of the Golden Horn.” For Public Books, Suzy Hansen writes about James Baldwin‘s less-well-documented time in Istanbul. Pair with this piece from our pages about the famed author, race, and fatherhood.