Author Archive

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

Songs that are Perfect Short Stories: Using Repetition

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Some of the most effective short stories are by songwriters. The constraints and conventions of a five-minute pop song can structure a narrative in ways that, even before you get to the music, are incredibly moving.

The Technological Extinction of the Short-Story Writer

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The march toward human obsolescence is relentless, yet the job of the writer is considered relatively safe from the threat of automation. For empathy and creativity are two qualities that it would be difficult to bundle within artificial intelligence. And empathy and creativity are perhaps the two primary calling

Cool Girls Don’t Wear Dresses: Being One of the Boys in Classic Children’s Books

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Seminal children’s books are littered with girls who are defiantly un-girly. Just a few of the many examples are Harriet the Spy, who wears a toolbelt stuffed with spy supplies and Pippi Longstocking, the rowdy orphan with the strength of Popeye.