Monday Miscellany

Additions to Your TBR List

woman readingJust in case your TBR (to-be-read) list isn’t long enough, here are two articles with recommendations you can add.

10 overlooked novels: how many have you read?

Most novels come, have their day, and are gone. For ever. Most deserve their “do not resuscitate” label. Every so often, though, a novel rises from the grave to claim its belated fame. On 5 July last year, addressing the nation on the Today programme, Ian McEwan did a revival job on Stoner – a novel published to modest praise in 1965 and long out of print. John Williams’s bleak, but exquisitely written, chronicle of a second-rate prof in a third-rate American university went on to become the 2013 novel of the year.

What other dead and forgotten works would one dig up from the dusty vaults of the British Library? Everyone will have their own overdue for resurrection list: here’s my top 10. Not all of them are what the critics would call “great novels” (a couple most certainly are) but they are, I can guarantee, great reads. And what more do you want from a work of fiction?

I have to admit that I had only heard of one of the novels on this list, and I haven’t read any of them.

9 Contemporary Authors You Should Be Reading

Despite rumors about the death of the literary novel, there’s never been more fantastic literary fiction and non-fiction being produced. As readers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the flood of well-crafted books demanding our attention.

Don’t despair, however; in celebration of HuffPost’s 9th birthday, we’ve compiled a list of 9 truly brilliant contemporary authors who shouldn’t be missed. Each of these authors has a book out this spring, but many have a larger oeuvre to explore, and all are must-reads for literature lovers today.

And I’m doing only slightly better with this list. At least I’ve bought Leslie Jamison’s essay collection The Empathy Exams.


Does Literary Fiction Challenge Racial Stereotypes?

There’s been a lot of discussion in the press recently about whether reading fiction makes us more moral or more empathetic. Some of the research into these areas is open to criticism because its terminology and methodology are too vague and ill defined. But a recent study “Changing Race Boundary Perception by Reading Narrative Fiction,” led by Dan Johnson of Washington and Lee University, focused on a specific question: Could the reading of a fictional narrative change the perception of racial stereotypes?

Jalees Rehman, M.D., reports on this study in The Huffington Post. His conclusion:

This study is the first to systematically test the impact of reading literary fiction on an individual’s assessment of race boundaries and genetic similarity. It suggests that fiction can indeed blur the perception of race boundaries and challenge our stereotypes.

In addition to information on this study, Rehman offers a summary of, with links to, reports on other research about how reading fiction affects us.

Amazon-Hachette spat draws writers’ ire

Amazon’s secret campaign to discourage customers from buying books by Hachette, one of the big New York publishers, burst into the open Friday.

The uneasy relationship between the retailer and the writing community that needs Amazon but fears its power immediately soured as authors took to Twitter to denounce what they saw as bullying.


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