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Conservative book ban push fuels library exodus from national association that stands up for books

This summer, the state libraries in Montana, Missouri and Texas and the local library in Midland, Texas, announced they’re leaving the ALA, with possibly more to come. Right-wing lawmakers in at least nine other states — Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming — demand similar action.

Categories: Censorship, Libraries

Music Only for a Woman: The Birth of Easy Listening

An enterprising radio producer named Ed Peters had an idea. What if there was a radio format that was just for women? The unimaginatively named “Music Only for a Woman” format would be, according to an article in the June 12, 1971, issue of Record World, “highly emotional music featuring today’s leading male vocalists.” The format, sold to stations as a pre-taped package, would run for eighteen hours, broken up into three-hour sections with names such as “Precious Moments” (9 a.m.–noon), “Alone By the Sea” (3 p.m.–6 p.m.), and “Soft Whispers” (6 p.m.–9 p.m.).

Writer Ashawnta Jackson points out that this format was created “not by musical concerns, but by business concerns.” 

Category: Discussion

Who’s Tried to Buy Their Way onto the New York Times Best Seller List?

Jeffrey Davies writes for BookRiot that “ever since the NYT Best Seller List made its debut in 1931, there’s been rumblings in the literary world of certain authors attempting to hack the system and ‘buy’ their way onto the list.” Davis lists some publicized incidents of authors trying to buy a coveted spot on that best seller list.

Categories: Author News, Literary Criticism, Publishing

How Merve Emre became the hottest — and most reviled — name in literary criticism

Anna Silman profiles college professor and seemingly ubiquitous literary critic Merve Emre for Insider: “Emre’s fame is particularly noteworthy in an industry that isn’t known for turning out charismatic superstars.”

“She’s sort of a pioneer in building this bridge between academia and the larger literary, public sphere,” said the critic John Guillory, who sees Emre as a model for a new breed of public intellectual.

Category: Literary Criticism

What Can Literature Teach Us About Forgiveness?

Literature, by its very nature, is in the business of telling things “four ways.” It is visionary and revelatory, and finds dynamism in a mix of insight, incident and description. The experience of being wronged (or doing wrong) is messy and full of ambiguity, a realm in which literature thrives. American fiction, preoccupied from the outset with sin, atonement, recompense and mercy — themes that run from the novels of the nation’s Puritan heritage through the literature of its continuing struggles — has long grappled with these issues.

Categories: Literature & Culture, Literature & Psychology, Reading

8 Overrated Literary Classics and 8 Books to Read Instead

The former teacher in me finds the whole idea behind this list repellent, unwise, misinformed, [add your own adjective here]. Let me know what you think.

Categories: Book Recommendations, Literary History, Reading

I grew up loving The Bell Jar. Then I noticed how Sylvia Plath wrote about people that looked like me

“After revisiting Plath’s book in my early twenties, I ended up writing a novel of my own as a way of understanding the recognition and repulsion I felt”

Jessica Zhan Mei Yu writes about having loved The Bell Jar as a teenager but realizing, on rereading it in her 20s, how it depicts people who look like her: “I began to ask myself difficult questions about representation and literature: what happens when the book that you think understands what it is like to be you also sees people that look like you as nothing more than an object or an absence?”

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Reading 

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

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