Author Archive

Why Does Cover Design Matter?

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In the space of a second spent looking at a book’s cover, we reach certain conclusions about its content. An internalized pool of knowledge built on years of reading experience gives us a clue as to how serious/funny/strange the book is likely to be.

Novels Where the Digressions Are Half the Point

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Of all the reasons to read a novel, plot tends to be the most compelling. Yet atmosphere, ideas, humor, the construction of a well-turned-out sentence--all these are also incentives to keep turning pages.

Two New Books Show the Rapid Evolution of the Conversation Around Consent

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There’s a long history in English-language literature of men pressuring women into sex. Two upcoming books reveal the evolution in notions of sexual consent, as well as how far we still have to go.

Stealth Animal Rights Novels

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As A.A. Milne wrote in Winnie-the-Pooh, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” The simple act of reading about animals challenges the conventional way that humans impose orders on other creatures, without wondering about their lives.

Attention Span Training for Book Lovers

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The internet giveth and it taketh away. What it gives readers is legion. What the internet contributes to taking away, however, is the ability to concentrate.

Sociology Texts That Read Like Novels

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Social science doesn’t have to be dry and statistics-laden. Sociology writing can be as vivid and gripping as fiction, when done well. Luckily there’s no shortage of compelling US sociology books, or sociologists.

The Inaccessibility of Books—A Persistent Problem

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Imagine being cut off from more than ninety percent of the world’s printed material. According to the non-profit World Blind Union, that's the case for people with visual impairments. But there are plenty of things that can be done to make books more accessible to those with visual and

Gone Transparent: The Real-World Relevance of the Radical Transparency in Dave Eggers’ THE CIRCLE

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It could be argued that The Circle, Dave Eggers’ 2013 techno-satire of an all-powerful Faceboogle-type company, goes after some easy targets. After all, it’s common to bemoan the exhaustingly hyperconnected state of a society dependent on social media.

Insights into Celebrity Humanitarianism from Zadie Smith’s SWING TIME

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It’s not novel for celebrities to dip their toes into humanitarian waters. Actor Danny Kaye was named the first UNICEF ambassador-at-large in 1954, a full two decades before Angelina Jolie was even born. The trope of the well-meaning but clueless celebrity do-gooder is so entrenched that it’s become easy

The Dutch City Poets Who Memorialize the Lonely Dead

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Any funeral is poignant. But that’s particularly the case for those who die anonymously, unclaimed by friends or family. In the Netherlands, city poets have responded to the tragedy of “lonely funerals” by researching each deceased person and writing a tailored poem. The poems are short, stark, and moving