Over at Hyperallergic, Claire Voon tours the New York Public Library’s collection of historical erotica, ranging from graphic illustrations hidden in photo albums to mid-century gay erotica. Pair with this Millions essay on private libraries and what books reveal about their readers.
Qiu Miaojin was a Taiwanese novelist and lesbian activist, and her short life has had a profound impact on queer literature since her suicide in 1995. Recently Bonnie Huie received a PEN translation grant so she could bring Miaojin’s best-known work, Notes of a Crocodile, to an English-speaking audience. You can read an excerpt of Huie’s translation on the Asian American Writers’ Workshop online publishing platform, The Margins.
When The Beatles made Rubber Soul, the band probably didn’t realize it would inspire some of the greatest contemporary fiction. First, Haruki Murakami named his novel Norwegian Wood. Now, “Drive My Car” inspired his new short story. Bungeishunju published the story today, but English readers are still waiting on the translation. Until then, we can always listen to the album. Pair with: Our essay on the soundtracks behind books.
Karen Russell is everywhere these days. She’s sharing her favorite books about Florida with The New York Times, she’s being interviewed about her writing process on our site, and she’s publishing short fiction for Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading blog. Oh, and she has a new book out, too, as you might have heard.
“We all read from different places, different backgrounds, and my meeting with Proust or Woolf, or Lydia Davis or J. M. Coetzee, will not be yours, nor should it be. On the other hand I do believe reading is an active skill, an art even, certainly not a question of passive absorption. … [so] there must be techniques and tools that everyone can use or try, even if we use them differently.” Tim Parks explains how he reads for The New York Review of Books.
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.