“To use the lingo of their era, these novels are square. The protagonists have names like Jane and Barbara; they are not the misfits of which much teen literature is made but instead fundamentally good girls who long to fit in, and usually do … Viewed through the lens of contemporary culture, and especially contemporary teen lit, these girls should be boring and shallow. But Beverly Cleary’s supposedly ordinary girls are complex: resentful of their mothers one moment and sympathetic toward them the next, willing to do anything for one special boy but indignant when they’re taken for granted.” On the unexpectedly complex nature of Beverly Cleary’s boring protagonists with Ruth Graham at Slate.
The best way to celebrate May Day? Read Tennyson's "The May Queen," become "Romance Incarnate."
"Many times, I’ve found that a book I once held in my hands becomes another when assigned its position in my library." In The Paris Review, an excerpt on the art of packing (and unpacking) a library from Alberto Manguel's upcoming book, Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions. Pair with: an essay on reorganizing one's personal library.
Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)
The Morning News continues its ongoing Reading Roulette series by sharing "A Light Head" by Olga Slavnikova. While the author is a contender for the 2013 Russian Booker Prize, TMN correspondent Elizabeth Kiem doesn't need to wait to award "best line" to this little ditty: “The Russian dilemma posed by Dostoyevsky—‘Shall I let the world go to hell or skip my tea?’—has been resolved in favor of the tea.”