A witty and illuminating blueprint to the habits and how-to’s of reading good books well.
“A classic is a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off.”
A collection of essays on classic texts from beloved author Italo Calvino, plus 14 definitions of what makes a classic at the link.
An extraordinary look at the inner world of a genius, oscillating between conviction and insecurity in the most beautifully imperfect and human way possible. From detailed notes on her formidable media diet of literature and film to her intense love affairs and infatuations to her meditations on society’s values and vices, the hefty volume is a true cultural treasure.
George Orwell outlines the four universal motives for creation – ” sheer egoism; aesthetic enthusiasm; historical impulse; political purpose” – and explains the psychology and social purpose of each. Details at the link.
“Non-reading is not just the absence of reading. It is a genuine activity, one that consists of adopting a stance in relation to the immense tide of books that protects you from drowning. On that basis, it deserves to be defended and even taught.”
In a letter to his 11-year-old daughter, Scottie:
“Things to worry about:
Worry about courage Worry about Cleanliness Worry about efficiency Worry about horsemanship Worry about…
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion Don’t worry about dolls Don’t worry about the past Don’t worry about the future Don’t worry about growing up Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you Don’t worry about triumph Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault Don’t worry about mosquitoes Don’t worry about flies Don’t worry about insects in general Don’t worry about parents Don’t worry about boys Don’t worry about disappointments Don’t worry about pleasures Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at? How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(a) Scholarship (b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them? (c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?”
Fear and loathing in six panels.
From Russell’s A Liberal Decalogue — his list of the Ten Commandments that outline the essential responsibilities of a teacher.
An extraordinary reconsideration of Victorian novels, plays, and poems pierced by time’s arrow, in which the works of Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde are bound up with energy conservation, the paradox of heat, engines, the grand unified theory, and of course, entropy.
In early 1996, journalist David Lipsky 34-year-old David Foster Wallace on the last leg of his tour for his breakout novel, Infinite Jest for an ambitious Rolling Stone interview. The feature was never published, but in 2010, some 14 years after the road trip and two years after Wallace’s suicide, Lipsky released the transcript in the profound, wildly revealing Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace.
Legendary children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom (1910-1988) headed Harper’s Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973. Credited with such timeless classics as Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon (1947), E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1951), Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are (1963), and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree (1964), she is often considered the single most influential champion of innovation in children’s book publishing in the past century, whose vision reined in a new era of imagination of literature for little ones. Her collected letters are full of insights on and epitomes of integrity, intuition, and creative vision that far transcend the world of children’s publishing.
“True believers have always felt something more, an extra dimension that has likely been a fundamental source of the book’s success all along: As practical as it is for helping writers over common hurdles, The Elements of Style also embodies a worldview, a philosophy that, for some, is as appealing as anything either author ever managed to get down on paper. Elements of Style is a credo. And it is a book of promises — the promise that creative freedom is enabled, not hindered, by putting your faith in a few helpful rules; the promise that careful, clear thinking and writing can occasionally touch truth; the promise of depth in simplicity and beauty in plainness; and the promise that by turning away from artifice and ornamentation you will find your true voice.”
A brief history of one of the most important collaborations in the English language.
125 of modernity’s greatest British and American writers — including Norman Mailer, Ann Pratchett, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Joyce Carol Oates — provide “a list, ranked, in order, of what [they] consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time– novels, story collections, plays, or poems.”
What emerges is an overall pattern of the greatest books of all time, based on the totality of these rankings.
Virginia Woolf’s 1927 letter to English poet Vita Sackville-West, with whom Woolf had fallen madly in love.
“Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” ~ Mark Twain on Jane Austen
Verbal sparring lessons from literary greats – what more can a modern hipster want?