Rebeca Hussey here defines philosophical fiction as fiction that “encourages the reader to ponder big questions. It purposely provokes thought and debate.” Her list of philosophical fiction includes both contemporary and classic books.
Here’s a reprint of “a rarely seen essay” that is “a wry set of instructions Chandler issued to his assistant in the 1950s.”
“Assert your personal rights at all times,” he tells her, along with several other instructions that might sound strange but refreshing to most office workers today.
Pip Williams, author of The Dictionary of Lost Words, explains why and how she wrote this book, which examines the participation of women in the production of the daddy of dictionaries, The Oxford English Dictionary.
This is an excerpt from the recent book A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome by Emma Southon, PhD. In this episode she explains why there was no official investigation of the murder of a woman named Apronia until her husband asked the emperor to look into it:
There was no representative of the state of Rome who would get involved in this case until Apronius took it to the emperor because, as far as the Romans were concerned, the murder of wives, children, husbands, or really anyone at all was absolutely none of their business.
A professor “who teaches people to teach kids to read” takes us on a tour of the “reading wars.” She looks at political involvement in the various controversies that have produced a sobering statistic: “two-thirds of United States 4th graders are reading ‘below grade level.’”
Nora Caplan-Bricker takes a deep dive into how the novels of Tana French use “the lust for property” to embody “the half-formed fears that hover at the edge of any mundane existence.”
“French’s fiction captures the talismanic power of a house as well as anything I’ve ever read,” she writes.
Children read longer books of greater difficulty during lockdown periods last year, and reported that reading made them feel better while isolated from the wider world, according to new research.
This news surprised me, but also warmed the cockles of my heart!
“The author recognized that humiliation is a kind of trauma—and that gentle humor could help neutralize it.”
A beautiful appreciation by Sophie Gilbert of children’s author Beverly Cleary, who died recently at the age of 104. Gilbert lauds the way Cleary “captured—sweetly, and with humor—all the ordinary ups and downs of childhood: sibling rivalry, misunderstandings, having a teacher who you can sense doesn’t like you.”
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown