Authors, including Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, Ali Smith, and our own Chigozie Obioma, chose their Best Books of 2017 in a two-part series for The Guardian. If you enjoyed that list, make sure to check out our Year in Reading: 2017 series all throughout December.
Nowadays, Huck Finn is as a lightning rod for racial issues, which explains why so many schools have banned the book over the years. But in the late 18th century, when Mark Twain published it, the novel was more controversial as a critique of childhood in America. In the Times, Year in Reading alum Parul Sehgal reads Huck Finn’s America, a new book by Andrew Levy that sheds light on the context of the era. You could also read our founder C. Max Magee on reading Huck Finn as a child.
In the pages of the Washington Post, the venerable Miss Manners responds to an English department secretary who feels “besieged by fringe ‘academics’ who are very adamant that we are part of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was Shakespeare.”
“Thus it is our [feminists’] historical task … to define what we call oppression in materialist terms, to make it evident that women are a class, which is to say that the category ‘woman’ as well as the category ‘man’ are political and economic categories, not eternal ones.” This essay in remembrance of Alexis Arquette touches on everything from VIP guest lists to feminist theorist Monique Wittig.
Why do great books we read as children have a more profound effect on us than great books we read as adults? It’s hard to say, but YA novelist Anne Cardi comes up with a number of reasons, among them the ability of children’s books to permanently change our viewpoints. (FYI, we asked a bunch of teenagers to recommend last year’s best YA novels.)
Last year, Laura van den Berg came out with a new book, The Isle of Youth, which Nathan Huffstutter reviewed for The Millions. On the Guernica blog, Dwyer Murphy interviews van den Berg, who talks about jacket photos, her first collection and whether a writer from Florida is part of the Southern tradition. (You could also read van den Berg’s Year in Reading entry.)
“To be a Patrick Leigh Fermor, a Colin Thubron, a Norman Douglas or Paul Theroux, requires always saying yes. To not-get-raped, according to every lesson I – and so many other women – have been taught, so often requires saying no.” On the paradox of being a women and a travel writer.