At The New York Times, book critic and Garner’s Quotations author Dwight Garner shares his decades-long habit of keeping a commonplace book. “It’s where I write down favorite sentences from novels, stories, poems and songs, from plays and movies, from overheard conversations. Lines that made me sit up in my seat; lines that jolted me awake…into it I’ve poured verbal delicacies, ‘the blast of a trumpet,’ as Emerson put it, and bits of scavenged wisdom from my life as a reader. Yea, for I am an underliner, a destroyer of books, and maybe you are, too.” He notes that commonplace books have long been popular, including among some of the most well-known literary figures. “Virginia Woolf kept one. So did Samuel Johnson. W. H. Auden published his, as did the poet J. D. McClatchy. E. M. Forster’s was issued after his death. The novelist David Markson wrote terse and enveloping novels that resembled commonplace books; they were bird’s nests of facts threaded with the author’s own subtle interjections.”
“Like actual endangered species, independent bookshops induce a fiercely protective kind of love; paradoxically, it’s often their precarity that saves them.” The Guardian profiles Philippe Ungar and Franck Bohbot, the men behind “We Are New York Indie Booksellers,” which features the 50 remaining indies in and around Manhattan. (Pair with: Janet Potter‘s history of bookstore love).
“Here is the last and biggest piece of advice I have: If you have a story that you want to tell, but you’re afraid that someone in your life is going to feel wounded, whether that feeling is justified or not, fair or not, tell it anyway.” Emma Straub, who recently wrote about her Year in Reading, gives some advice on fictionalizing real people in an essay for Rookie.
A translation guide to writing workshops that we’re definitely printing out and bringing along to our next one. “Sometimes when people say ‘show, don’t tell,’ what they mean is that they find the characters sympathetic, the story is moving forward, and they even like the conflict, but they just don’t like the way you wrote it. What they’d really like to do is steal the idea and write it themselves, because honestly, they would do a much better job.”
We’ve seen a proliferation of junky editions of out-of-copyright classics, but we’ve also noted gorgeous new hardcovers from Penguin and now from much smaller outfit White’s Books, including Emma, Wuthering Heights, Charles Dickens’ Christmas Books, and several others.