As a child, Xiaolu Guo hunted birds and toads to survive. Now, as a writer in Britain, she’s written a memoir about her difficult childhood, which you can read more about in this review in The New Statesman. Sample quote: “Perhaps it is no coincidence that the reason that Guo gives for deciding to write in English is to be free of Chinese government censorship, a process that she describes as the wearing down of a rock’s sharp edges to a smooth pebble.”
"The worst insult people hurl at adoptees is that they are 'ungrateful' and should 'go back' (to their 'own' countries, to their old families). That is the moment when adoption becomes a gift—because that is the moment when it becomes clear that adoption belongs to people like the adoptive parent and not people like the adoptee. We shouldn’t want our birth families, our birth cultures. We should be thankful for being taken from the mothers who bore us. This idea of gratitude can ruin thankfulness. Why should we be grateful?" Matthew Salesses writes about gratitude and luck as an adoptee, over at The Toast. You could also check out Salesses’s Millions essay on novel writing, inciting incidents, adoption, and beginnings.
On the NY Daily News' Page Views blog, Alexander Nazaryan writes about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show's most neglected -- yet also most literary -- member breed: the dachshund. "No dog," Nazaryan writes, "has been more widely loved by writers and artists than the dachshund." Comedian Streeter Seidell agrees that the dachshund was slighted, and calls for a "fan favorite" award next year.
What could be better than a summer evening with a tasty book and a witty drink? In The Spectator, various bookworms meditate on their experiences with literature and alcohol. Pair with a gorgeous essay on summer reading in The Paris Review: "books are a kind of island."
Perhaps the best mashup of highbrow and lowbrow to grace the cultural ether in recent years is this innovative scratch-and-sniff guide to becoming a wine expert. The book, which is exactly what you think it is, declares that “not all oaks are created equal” and includes a diagram of “all the smells in the world.” (Related: literary tourism at Suttree’s High Gravity Beer Tavern.)