This (launch!) week, entertain yourself on the subway with a collection of stories, a criticism of contemporary literary studies, a window into the world of writers, and an old English class favorite.
On your kindle
When cramped for time or attention, nothing provides an alluring distraction quite like a short story. Less daunting than a novel but with the flair of the fictitious, this genre is perfect for easing morning work-goers into the week ahead.
I Knew You’d Be Lovely, a brand-new collection of short stories by brand-new storyteller Alethea Black and already hailed by Barnes and Nobel as a “Great New Writers” pick, is full of stories that focus sharply on specific people and turn everyday happenings into noteworthy tales. Best of all? Black has a knack for paving emotional twists and turns while still leaving her stories with the flavor of (dare I say it?) a happy ending—a trait that’s all too elusive in modern literature.
On your smartphone
As an English major recently released from the self-indulgent confines of a college English department, I’ve frequently encountered the scathing remarks and general expressions of pity produced by those who believe that my major is, for the real world, utterly useless.
Though I cling to the belief that English is a wonderful major that teaches its students how to think as well as to read and write, I found this article—a review of The Cambridge History of the American Novel—disturbingly enlightening in its condemnation of college English departments whose emphasis on the context, history, and subtext of novels push them further and further away from the novels themselves.
Read this article to find both a critique of contemporary literary convention and a refreshingly simple message: books should be loved.
On a podcast
For me, the word “writer” is a romantic one, conjuring images of dreamy, bespectacled individuals sitting with utmost concentration before a computer screen, their fingers flying to keep up with the ideas that race through their creative minds.
In just under four minutes, this video from C-SPAN2’s BookTV debunks this romantic idea of mine as it interviews real writers who describe their daily writing routine. Watch this to find out how writers procrastinate, if they deal with writer’s block, and just how much coffee they need to produce their content.
As school begins again, I find myself thinking of books that feature strong adolescent voices, and my mind immediately hones in upon the unmistakably scathing tone of Holden Caufield, hero of J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye.
If you haven’t read this perennial favorite since freshman English class, pick it up again. The prose—a truly funny stream-of-consciousness flowing from the mind of a brilliant, if unbalanced, young boy—whizzes by, and you may find your adult self picking up on subtleties—some hilarious, some sad—that eluded you at age fifteen.