Last Week's Links

Literary Links

As of December 1, 2022, I am no longer using Twitter. Instead, I’ll be promoting blog posts—other bloggers’ and my own—on Mastodon. You can find me there under this name:

@[email protected]

You cannot search for people by their real names on Mastodon. To find someone, you must go to Mastodon and search for the user name. I think you have to have your own account with Mastodon to do this.

Authors Who Write Outstanding Mystery Series and Stellar Standalones

One question that comes up periodically on book blogs is this: Do you prefer to read series or standalone novels? But this article by novelist Alicia Beckman reminded me that there’s also another side to this question: Do authors prefer to write series or standalone books? Beckman explains “why some writers write both series and standalone fiction”:

We have many stories to tell, in different settings and eras, with different tones and structures. A series offers a chance to explore a cast and location intimately, following characters over time. . . . A standalone, in contrast, gives an author a chance to travel a different road.

In addition to her own novels, Beckman discusses the work of William Kent Krueger, Laura Lippman, Rachel Howzell Hall, Mick Herron, and Rhys Bowen.

Categories: Author News, Fiction, Reading, Writing

Books That Have Gotten Better with Age

Another topic that comes up frequently in literary discussions is the value of “the classics”—whatever that designation may mean. Jeffrey Davies avoids having to define that term by writing about “novels that have stood the test of time and are worth the read in the 21st century.” Here he lists and discusses four such novels.

Categories: Fiction, Literary Criticism, Literary History

History’s First Named Author Was a Mesopotamian Priestess

“In Atlas Obscura’s Q&A series She Was There, we talk to female scholars who are writing long-forgotten women back into history.”

“History’s first recorded author was a woman named Enheduanna,” writes Sarah Durn. “Today, more than 4,000 years after her death, her words continue to echo down to us.”

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literary History, Writing

A 1934 murder mystery’s pages were printed out of order. Now the world is obsessed.

“Only four people have ever solved the puzzle contained in the pages of ‘Cain’s Jawbone.’ TikTok helped turn the obscure, 100-page British novel into a craze.”

Hannah Natanson writes in the Washington Post how the 2019 republication of Cain’s Jawbone, written in 1934, has, thanks to TikTok, become a giant literary craze.

Categories: Book News, Literary Criticism, Literary History

A Fifth of American Adults Struggle to Read. Why Are We Failing to Teach Them?

“The nation’s approach to adult education has so far neglected to connect the millions of people struggling to read with the programs set up to help them.”

A sobering story from ProPublica: “Though nationwide [in the United States] graduation rates have risen in recent decades, the number of adults who struggle to read remains stubbornly high: 48 million, or 23%.”

Category: Reading

We’re drowning in old books. But getting rid of them is heartbreaking.

“Books are precious to their owners. Their worth, emotional and monetary, is comparably less to anyone else.” Karen Heller describes the Great Deaccession, the current flooding of the used-book market as aging Americans seek to get rid of their lifetime collection of books so that their relatives won’t have to.

Category: Book News

Jean Franco, 98, Pioneering Scholar of Latin American Literature, Dies

“She infused her work with political and feminist perspectives and insisted that art had to be understood within its social context.”

I usually post obituaries to Pinterest, but I’m including this one here because it allows me to discuss Life Stories in Literature. 

Life Stories in Literature




we are what we remember

inside vs. outside stories


hidden identities & secrets


creating/controlling one’s own narrative

cultural appropriation

alternate life options

alternative selves

turning points/life decisions

when/how lives intersect

multiple points of view

rewriting history

change your story, change your life

Dr. Franco, who taught in England and later at Stanford and Columbia, did more than just highlight new writers. A follower of British Marxist scholars like Raymond Williams and E.P. Thompson, she insisted that the study of literature had to take into account the cultural and political context in which it was created — a sharp contrast to the conventional, close-reading method in which she was trained. . . . She was likewise a pioneer in applying feminist perspectives to what had been a male-dominated field. . . . And she was an early advocate for what came to be known as cultural studies, which treats all forms of culture — highbrow, popular, mass media — as interrelated and equally worthy of study.

Categories: Literature & Culture, Life Stories in Literature, Literary Criticism, Literary History

Death of the narrator? Apple unveils suite of AI-voiced audiobooks

“Exclusive: tech firm quietly launches new audiobook catalogue narrated by AI – but move expected to spark backlash”

I’ve read a lot lately about AI-generated text will affect writing, especially in education. But here is another aspect of the topic that I hadn’t thought about.

Categories: Audiobooks, Reading

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

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