Last Week's Links

Literary Links

Prince Harry’s Book Is Just Good Literature

“I don’t give a fig about the royals, but much of Spare reads like a good novel.”

After admitting that she doesn’t care about the British royal family and doesn’t follow what they’re doing, Laura Miller writes, “To my surprise, the first half of Spare turns out to be a fascinating literary venture. This is surely all down to Harry’s collaborator, J.R. Moehringer, one of the most sought-after ghostwriters in the business, a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, and the author of his own bestselling memoir, The Tender Bar.

Categories: Memoir, Writing

How we fell under the spell of witcherature

“From the Netflix Addams Family spin-off to countless new novels and wellness books, witches are having a cultural moment. Why now, and what does that say about our modern age?”

“2023 is the year in which witch books will truly cast their spell,” Anya Bergman writes in the Guardian. Why, she wonders, have witches “permeated every corner of the publishing world, as well as our TV screens”?

Categories: Literature & Culture, Reading

Unguilty Pleasures: My Year of Reading Romance Novels

“Katie Fustich on Finding New Possibilities in a Misunderstood Genre”

Fustich reports that she spent her “formative years as a reader and writer” focusing on books that “dead male academics had deemed important to the literary canon.” But her year of reading romance novels—“the only type of literature that is considered actively anti-intellectual”—was “the final frontier of my journey from unthinking academic acolyte to omnivorous literary independence.”

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Reading

Dressmaking Liberated American Women—Then Came the Men

If you’ve ever wondered why the titles of so many historical novels contain the word dressmaker, here’s your answer: “dressmakers ruled supreme over the world of women’s clothing” until about the middle of the nineteenth century. Dressmaking was a culturally acceptable profession that allowed women “a possible path to financial and professional independence.” However:

A variety of inventors, many from the male-oriented tailor trade, sought to reduce the feminine art of dressmaking to a science during the nineteenth century.

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

Seven Books About How Homes Shape Our Life

“Dwellings are loaded with meaning for the people—and characters—who inhabit them.”

These books feature houses from across the world, and people with varied motivations for moving into them. They also capture the small moments that transform a dwelling into a refuge . . .

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Reading, Writing

Stephen King’s 20 Rules for Writers

Open Culture has distilled this list of writing pointers from King’s memoir On Writing (2000) and from some essays by and interviews with him published elsewhere.

Category: Author News, Reading, Writing

Citing Accessibility, State Department Ditches Times New Roman for Calibri

“There’s more to font choices than what looks nice, and some experts said it would make for easier reading.”

Wading into a debate that has divided designers and accessibility experts for decades, the United States Department of State said this week that it would stop using the Times New Roman typeface, replacing it with the sans-serif typeface Calibri.

Take a look at the graphic illustrating this article from the New York Times and see what you think.

Categories: Publishing, Reading

Backstory Is Essential to Story—Except When It’s Not

Editor Tiffany Yates Martin has some tips for writers about what backstory is and how to use it effectively. I always think that articles like this, directed at writers, are just as useful for readers of novels as they are for the authors who write them. An article like this may help readers pinpoint and explain exactly what worked or didn’t work, and why, in a particular novel.

Categories: How Fiction Works, Reading, Writing

Forget ‘Little Women’. How did girls learn to be grown women?

ulie Pfeifferis, professor of English at Hollins University in Virginia, examines the current concept of adolescent girls as presented in popular culture by relating it to girlhood as presented in nineteenth-century German books for adolescent girls. According to Pfeifferis, the German books present the journey of the adolescent girl from youngster to adult as a cooperative effort between the girl and the older women who instruct her and model appropriate behavior. This German pattern recognizes “the hard work of growing up” and normalizes “messy adolescence,” in contrast to the current American popular culture portrait of adolescent girls as “feminist-crusader heroines battling social restrictions, while somehow looking lovely.”

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literary History

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

2 thoughts on “Literary Links”

  1. About the Little Women comment I reread the book as an adult and found the book to be preachy. Ugh. I think the college prof is correct. So much of YA literature in the US has completely incapable adults so kids are left to their own devices…often to incredible results. Ha!

    1. I definitely agree with you about YA lit, Anne. I haven’t read a lot of it, but what I have read seems to focus on what kids have to do to face or avoid or discover how to deal with something caused by–or at least exacerbated by–clueless adults. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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