Out this week: A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin; Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma; Cities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka; Hide by Matthew Griffin; The Blue Hour by Douglas Kennedy; Why They Run The Way They Do by Susan Perabo; We’ve Already Gone This Far by Patrick Dacey; and Perfect Days by Raphael Montes. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
I’ve long evangelized Mary Roach’s writing because she has such a knack for conveying extremely complicated information in an incredibly entertaining way. (See also: Susan Casey and Michael Lewis.) From cadavers to space travel, she focuses on our world’s most natural curiosities – and now she’s diving into perhaps the most natural curiosity of all: digestion. In her new book, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Roach takes readers on a journey through their own gullets. To get a brief idea, check out the book trailer. (It’s very “Innerspace”)
Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant star in an eight-hour dramatization of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. Completed in 1960, and centered around the bloody battle of Stalingrad, the novel was deemed so dangerous by the KGB that the book itself was arrested. BBC's excited, and all the episodes are available to download.
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
Did your MFA program offer impractical courses like "Problems in Modern Fiction"? At the Ploughshares blog, Rebecca Makkai offers some suggestions for more useful classes, such as "Introduction to Despair," "Pretending You’re Talking to Terry Gross When You’re Alone in the Car," and "The Art of the Flirty Author Photo Grimace." Pair with: Our interview with Makkai.
A 13th century Welsh book originally written by monks on pages of animal skin has finally been made available online thanks to the country's National Library. The ancient Book of Aneirin contains the Gododdin, one of the oldest poems ever written in the language.