Why should a college student major in English? It’s a question with hundreds of answers, but one of the most common is that reading, more so than other activities, makes you a better person. It sharpens your mind and hones your sense of morality. But what if this comforting idea -- as close as you can get to a conviction held by all writers -- has little to no basis in reality?
Anyone who’s read The Divine Comedy knows that rivalries and petty grudges are timeless. To further prove the point, Mallory Ortberg provided this list, which details the cattiest lines from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Sample quote: “Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has skill and knowledge?”
On The Nervous Breakdown this week, J.E. Fishman considers the book review practices of The New York Times: "My view is very much eastern, very much old school, where a book review from the Times was the only sure sign that an author had arrived. But maybe it’s time to rethink that, and this rethinking has been long overdue."
Have you taken advantage of NYRB Classics' Winter Sale yet? A whole bunch of their books are listed with 50% discounts! Why not check out The Radiance of the King, which was recommended this past Year in Reading by Deborah Eisenberg? (And also recommended by Junot Díaz back in our 2007 edition of the series, too.)