Out this week: American Histories by John Edgar Wideman; Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen; The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman; Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya; and Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen.
There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there’s a different kind of classic that’s worth revisiting and questioning. “You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling‘s elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let’s say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”
We’ve already published a pair of great lists of gifts for writers, but I know more than one book lover (ahem) who would be thrilled to get this collection of vintage Penguin book cover postcards.
“If Earth overheats and crops and fuel become scarce, guess what? I know good bartering supplies include tampons, mercury fillings, eyeglasses. One particularly anxious day I read instructions on how to cook on my woodstove—so in the early days of environmental apocalypse and culture collapse, my family will enjoy bygone potatoes roasted over hot coals and underdone loaves of bread.” Year in Reading alumna Megan Mayhew Bergman prepares herself for the apocalypse.