“You’d be hard-pressed to find a book that was at once so bold in style and ambitious in structure and so much fun to read.” The Guardian asks indie publishers about the books that made their year, including Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue (whose own Year in Reading you can find here).
In the spring of 2006, John Unsworth taught a graduate seminar on "Twentieth-Century American Bestsellers." It led to one of history's finest class projects--a browsable database of bestsellers, 337 in all. As with any bestseller lists, you'll find a range of titles, everything from Thomas Wolfe to Tom Clancy, but click through and find that each entry includes an extremely detailed description of the book's history (these were compiled by graduate students, after all); a mini-essay on its reception; images of covers, page layouts, and even some ads; and more. It is, in short, bibliophilic crack. (Thanks Craig)
We’ve written a fair bit about the By the Book series at the Times. You can read a selection of the best entries in a collection published by the paper. This week, the series featured another novel guest: Alan Gilbert, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Sample quote: “I don’t seek out books about music. I’ve read them over the years, but somehow, as a genre, it isn’t something I am specifically looking for.”
"Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together." An essay in the Boston Review argues the importance of Philip K. Dick's literature— where the real and fake intersect and collide — and the world we live in today. From our archive: on the pleasures of Dick's sometimes awful prose.
This week poet Mark Baumer was struck and killed by an SUV while walking barefoot across the country. Baumer, 33, began his cross-country walk to raise awareness about climate change, and was documenting the journey on his blog (as well as Instagram and YouTube). Florida, where he was killed, was recently ranked "the most dangerous place for pedestrians" in the United States.
"We’ve often thought First Nations and indigenous students — if they don’t see themselves reflected.. how engaged they can be with the educational system?" The Huffington Post reports that a school board in southern Ontario is making a native-focused literature course mandatory after learning that those books "were more interesting and engaging to students than the classics." The class curriculum includes As Long as the River Flows by James Bartleman, Green Grass, Running Water and Medicine River by Thomas King, the 7 Generations graphic novel series by David Alexander Robertson, and Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. (Story via Book Riot.)