The 1.5 million people who live in the Bronx lack a general interest bookstore, classifying their borough as one of a growing number of “book deserts” across the country. To combat this trend, the National Book Foundation just launched “The Book Rich Environment Initiative.” Meanwhile, Juma’a Ali runs a popular bookshop in a UN-administered refugee camp near the South Sudanese city of Malakal.
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.
A Mississippi school district has decided to pull Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list because it "makes people uncomfortable." The novel, which frequently tops the American Library Association's "Frequently Challenged Book" list, tackles racism. See also: an essay on the symbolism of mockingbirds.