“I hate to break it to you but everyone does not, in fact, have a book in them.” For The Outline, literary agent Kate McKean writes about the difference between good stories and good books—and what it takes to write the latter. Pair with: an essay on the books that fight back
Learn more about Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Cao Wenxuan. “China has given us so many heartbreaking stories. How can you avoid writing about them? I can’t sacrifice my life experience in order to make children happy.” Pair with Edan Lepucki’s piece on the grown-up counterparts to children’s stories.
Here’s a simple poll idea we’re amazed we hadn’t thought of before: asking famous writers to pick their favorite words. In The Guardian, Hilary Mantel, Tessa Hadley and others (including Year in Reading alum Eimear McBride) choose their picks for an exceedingly odd vocabulary list.
“The point of a party is to make us forget we are solitary, wretched and betrothed to death; in other words, to transform us into animals.” Michel Houellebecq offers some handy tips, over at The Believer. Pair with this Millions review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory.
“When it started almost 15 years ago, [Google Books] … seemed impossibly ambitious,” writes Scott Rosenberg. “An upstart tech company that had just tamed and organized the vast informational jungle of the web would now extend the reach of its search box into the offline world.” But these days, Google’s moonshot has turned into a “mundane reality.” How?