For its November issue, Wired asks guest editor President Obama for a list of his 10 essential books. The magazine estimates that reading all of them, including James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Katherine Boo‘s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, will take only eighty-nine hours.
“Here is the last and biggest piece of advice I have: If you have a story that you want to tell, but you’re afraid that someone in your life is going to feel wounded, whether that feeling is justified or not, fair or not, tell it anyway.” Emma Straub, who recently wrote about her Year in Reading, gives some advice on fictionalizing real people in an essay for Rookie.
If you have aspirations of the literary sort, I strongly recommend Dan Wickett’s interview with “founders, editors and managing editors of 8 Literary Journals of varying age and size.” And you should also look at the latest posts at Mad Max Perkins’ Book Angst in which hears from editors and publishing industry types about “the true meaning of midlist.”
“Jealousy baffles me. It’s so mysterious and it’s so pervasive. … And yet I’ve never read a study that can parse to me its loneliness, or its longevity, or its grim thrill. For that, we have to go to fiction because the novel is the lab that has studied jealousy in every possible configuration. In fact, I don’t know that it’s an exaggeration to say that if we didn’t have jealousy, we wouldn’t even have literature.” New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal takes listeners to church in her TED Talk, “Ode to Envy.”
“How did a humble Canadian publisher—which got its start reprinting other companys’ books—become the name most associated with romance? It’s a long story, involving a peripatetic former fur trader and his opinionated socialite wife, a Procter-and-Gamble-trained Harvard MBA, some jilted Americans and a whole crowd of damned scribbling women.” From Pictorial comes the story of “How Harlequin Became the Most Famous Name in Romance.”
“His life’s work, and his stunning prose, teaches us to better understand political influence, American democracy, and the true power of biography.” The National Book Foundation just announced Robert Caro as this year’s recipient of the National Book Awards lifetime achievement medal. Definitely pair with this piece by our own Michael Bourne on Caro’s epic literary ambitions.
The art of book translation becomes even more challenging when you translate a book that hasn’t been updated since the Cold War. At Asymptote, Jacek Dehnel discusses how much changed from Ariadna Demkowska’s 1962 translation of The Great Gatsby to his current work. “Demkowska was working under very different circumstances: behind the Iron Curtain and without access to Google. It was, therefore, more difficult for her to track down various details, such as those concerning well-known financiers or popular culture starlets of the 1920s.”