It’s that time again. Out come the bathing suits, floppy hats, and…beach-focused marketing campaigns? For Vulture, Allison Duncan dissects the category of the “beach read,” noting that the typical beach read is written by a woman, and is probably not about the Byzantine Empire—unless that’s what you’re into? “If historical nonfiction has a place in your beach bag,” Duncan writes, “then it’s a beach read.” For the most part, of course, “the best beach reads go down like Hallmark holiday movies—and I mean that in the best possible way.” The beach read, it turns out, contains multitudes.
There are two essays on the narrative genius behind The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling, over at Berfrois: Michael A. Moodian on how using genre tropes allowed Serling to tell politically volatile stories during the McArthy era of Hollywood, and Christopher Cappelluti takes a look at how The Twilight Zone changed television history.
“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children’s book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain’s self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
Ed Champion interviews the FTC’s Richard Cleland in an effort to bring some clarity to the new FTC disclosure rules targeting “bloggers.” If this interview is any indication, the rules are imprecise and based on a false distinction, at best. For what it’s worth, I’ll happily disclose that we do get sent books for review from publishers, and the ways The Millions makes money are outlined on our (new and improved) Support page.
A striking photo of the Brontё sisters is not, in fact, a photo of the Brontё sisters. The women in the photo look a lot like them, but their hometown didn’t have much in the way of photography in the 1840s, and there isn’t any record of the Brontёs getting their photo taken. So how did the picture become known for being something it isn’t? At the LRB’s blog, Alice Spawls explains why. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki on Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester.
“I’m writing about people. Man involved in the human dilemma, facing the problems bigger than he, whether he licks them or whether they lick him. But man as frail and fragile as he is, yet he will keep on trying to be brave and honest and compassionate, and that, to me, is very fine and very interesting — and that is the reason I think any writer writes.” William Faulkner on why writers write in a rare recording from the University of Virginia, via Brain Pickings.
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months – 73% – has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people do reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. See also our essay on the persistence of physical books and, of course, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, edited by our own C. Max Magee.