Monday Miscellany

Stephen KingThe Best Stephen King Book: Readers’ Picks

Readers have spoken. The Stand won in a landslide as Stephen King’s most popular novel. If your King favorite is something else, check the pie chart here to see how it stacked up.

New & Forthcoming: The Algonquin Reader

Download Algonquin Books’ big list of books due out in the fall of 2012.

Don Winslow’s Top 5 Crime Novels

Don Winslow’s had a busy summer. His prequel to Savages, The Kings of Cool, published last month, and the Oliver Stone-directed film based on Savages just hit theaters. He found time to share his top 5 favorite crime novels with PW.

If you’re as big a mystery fan as I am, you’ll want to read why best-selling suthor Don Winslow chooses these five novels as his favorites:

  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George Higgins
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  • The Guards by Ken Bruen
  • L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
  • Laguna Heat by T. Jefferson Parker

Italo Calvino’s 14 Definitions of What Makes a Classic

Brain Picking’s Maria Popova asks what makes a work of literature a classic and finds an answer—actually, 14 of them—in Italo Calvino’s 1991 book Why Read the Classics?

I find Calvino’s second description particularly apt:

The Classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them.

The Rise Of The “Girly” Narrative

Anna North uses Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be?, subtitled “A Novel from Life,” as the occasion to examine whether “a still male-dominated cultural establishment” will reconsider what it considers “serious.”

Female friendship — and young women’s lives more generally — may be enjoying particular pop-cultural prominence right now. Kate Zambreno, novelist and author of the upcoming critical memoir Heroines (which deals in part with how women have been perceived in literary history), told BuzzFeed Shift that we’re seeing a rise what she calls “girly” stories. She makes a distinction between writing by women and “women who write of a girly experience.” Girliness, she said, is something that “transcends age” and is characterized by “not being entirely empowered.” Girly characters are those “who are messy, who are ambivalent,” whose “feminism is messy.” Heti’s book is girly, she said, and so are Lana Del Rey, Fiona Apple, and the characters on Girls. “We’re in a general moment now,” she said, “where young female narratives are being heralded” — but “then there’s this huge backlash that they’re not serious.”

Haunting Summer Books: 9 Book With Deceased Protagonists

From ghostly protagonists to long-dead foils, literature is full of characters whose lives are over before the story even begins – and whom, though we never actually have the pleasure of meeting them, capture our imaginations through flashback, memory, or post-humous narration. The upshot: some of the best books are the ones featuring characters who spend most or all of their stories having shuffled off this mortal coil, but who live on — be it literally or metaphorically — in the turning of the pages.

Read Kat Rosenfield’s descriptions of these novels:

  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides