January 16, 2019

Books

"The essay needs talented practitioners, readers capable of the mental repose required to take pleasure in it, and connoisseurs with an understanding of the rich tradition out of which it derives."

"I was instantly wary when Atwood announced that her Handmaid’s sequel, The Testaments, would be set 15 years after the events of the first novel, and that “everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings” was her inspiration. "

"Written as Hitler came to power, "The Oppermanns" by Lion Feuchtwanger captured the confusion, fear and denial that allowed him to wreak havoc for 12 years."

"Decades before the rise of Zionism, 19th-century American playwright and diplomat Mordecai Manuel Noah envisioned a refuge for European Jews—on an island near Buffalo."

"Each critic sees him- or herself in Oscar Wilde. Saint Oscar; Wilde the Irishman; Wilde the wit. The classicist; the socialist; the martyr for gay rights. “To be premature is to be perfect”, Wilde wrote; “History lives through its anachronisms.”"

"We know it’s a meal we shovel into our faces in the middle of the day, typically hunched over a laptop or, if we’re lucky, at a restaurant. It’s also a time when good sense gets left behind for expediency."

"As you may gather from the title, Why They Can’t Write is about how we teach — or don’t teach — students how to write effectively, particularly at the threshold between late high school and early college."

"Deliveries are now expected to go into neighborhoods that were never designed for freight traffic — creating congestion, noise problems, and infrastructure damage in addition to emissions."

"Even at its most sophisticated, atheism is bound not to stray too much from its more fortunate relation, with the result that “some of the most radical forms of atheism” are indistinguishable from “some mystical varieties of religion.”"

"In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by the end of the century, technology would have become so far advanced that developed economies would have a 15-hour workweek. So how did we get to our current state...?"

"The confusing thing about Franzen is that even people who hate him admit that he is a great novelist, and even people who love him admit that his essays are often a little on the insufferable..."

"While many books experience sweeping popularity, Ferrante’s novels are part of a subgroup of pop culture that compels people to travel. Tour groups like Looking for Lila and Ferrante Fever Naples have popped up across Naples..."

"Capitalism disadvantages women along several axes. The dawn of the industrial revolution enshrined a division of labor that largely confined them to the domestic sphere."

"The children’s literary canon is sinking into the muck of identity politics, with grievance-studies devotees seeking to either “de-platform” older books, or teach them through the single-issue lens of grievances studies."

"This year’s Booker-winner Milkman has been criticised for being challenging.... Attacking a literary prize for rewarding a book that doesn’t accord with a critic’s ideas about “readability” is simply philistinism."

"If it were true that novelists needed “quietude, time and space” to produce novels, Preston would be right to declare a state of crisis. But Bellow wrote his first novel while serving on a merchant marine ship during the Second World War."

"For children of all ages, books about such charged topics are, in the words of one publishing executive, coming to be seen as more “retail-friendly.”"

"Amazon has assembled a collection of climate-change fiction, or cli-fi, bringing a literary biodiversity to bear on the defining crisis of the era."

"Surely there is nothing left to say about Anne Frank, except that there is everything left to say about her: all the books she never lived to write. "

"Sylvia Plath died in London in February 1963, a largely unknown writer. She wrote almost all of the poems we know her by in the final months of her life, after separating from her husband Ted Hughes."

"An illustrated adaptation of the teenage Holocaust victim’s diary calls into question which avenues are best for retelling painful, complicated histories."

"For two years, the pseudonymous literary sensation corresponded regularly with the director adapting “My Brilliant Friend” for HBO. But the resulting show is a testament to her elusiveness."

"Meaning making, positing purpose, and religious thinking are all more an intuitive, “gut,” or “heart” process than they are a rational, analytical, or “head” one."

"To understand the literary Gothic – to even begin to account for its curious appeal, and its simultaneous qualities of seduction and repulsion – it is necessary to undertake a little time travel."

"In the world of fine art, the more provenance, the documented history of an object, that can be found, the better. But in the world of antiquities, sometimes there is little to no paper trail."

America is increasingly tolerant of all kinds of religious beliefs - but Americans are still uncomfortable with a lack of belief. Two new books examine what atheists actually believe in.

"The genre has historically offered up plotlines that range from uncomfortable moments of pursuit to nos that imply yes. One author talks about her decision to go about it differently."

"The danger is not Mr. Pinker’s silly interpretation. It’s the confident assumption that one can cull a sentence out of context, take it literally, and know its meaning."

For all those who consider themselves bookish, here is a collection of photographs of some of the world's most inviting and aesthetically impressive libraries.

"It wasn’t until I read Shachar Pinsker’s new book, “A Rich Brew: How the Café Created Modern Jewish Culture” (NYU Press), that I learned that Jews and coffee shops have been connected for at least a century..."

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JJ Editor's Picks

"In a bid to create new space for green industries and fossil-free energy production, greater Copenhagen wants to build an entirely new business and infrastructure district on the city’s southwestern edge."

Donald Trump ran for president saying that he would be a shrewd businessman with a propensity for making deals. Why, then, are we in the longest government shutdown on record?

"There isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the way that many outsiders seem to think... In the Israeli view, no peacemaker can bring the two sides together because there aren’t just two sides. There are many, many sides."

"I've always wondered what fans see in her. After debating with a friend about her “merits” for over half a decade now, I thought I had found the one thing that could probably change my opinion of the pop star: the Reputation tour documentary..."

"Even if the economy is on a roll, many Americans aren’t feeling the benefit... In fact, when adjusted for cost of living increases, real wages actually declined 1.3% since the end of 2017, PayScale found."

"Cutting ties with Facebook would mean consciously cutting ties with my own community, and I can't bring myself to do it. When I asked my connections on Facebook why they were staying, their answers were very similar to mine..."

Fear of the news; fear of climate change, fear of touch screens... these New Yorker cartoons portray the modern phobias that are driving us crazy.

"Texts replaced authors as the privileged objects of scholarly knowledge, and the performance of critical operations on texts became essential to the scholar’s identity."

"When I speak to parents’ groups about kids who are addicted to Fortnite and other video games, I tell them that it is the parents’ job to limit, govern and guide their kids’ use of video games..."

"Startups like Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce say they're helping to reduce food waste in America. Critics say they're deceiving their customers and making the problem worse."

"Scholars are now interested in whether having a vocabulary item for a concept influences thought in domains far from language, such as visual perception."

"The much-documented anti-Semitism of the British Labor party leader is no accident... Jeremy Corbyn reminds us that anti-Semitism is not just an irrational hatred, harbored by madmen at the fringes of British society."