I love Flavorwire, where Emily Temple, their brilliant but hard-to-find literary editor, is on the lookout for different ways of looking at books. Last month she published a list of 15 scathing reviews given to literary classics when they first came out; The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, Catch 22 – all reviled. Here are some samples:
On Madame Bovary: “Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.” — Le Figaro, 1857.
On Brave New World: “Mr. Huxley has been born too late. Seventy years ago, the great powers of his mind would have been anchored to some mighty certitude, or to some equally mighty scientific denial of a certitude. Today he searches heaven and earth for a Commandment, but searches in vain: and the lack of it reduces him, metaphorically speaking, to a man standing beside a midden, shuddering and holding his nose.” — L.A.G. Strong, 1932
On The Catcher in the Rye: “This Salinger, he’s a short story guy. And he knows how to write about kids. This book though, it’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous. And he should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all that crumby school. They depress me.” — James Stern, The New York Times, 1951
There’s a website called Brain Pickings, a kind of repository for quirky bits of information about… well…I’ll have to let Maria Popova, whose brain child it is, describe it: culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.
It was brought to my attention by Emily Temple, the excellent Literary Editor at Flavorwire, who mentioned one of Brain Picking’s articles : the Greatest Books of All Time as Voted by 125 Famous Authors. The titles are sorted into 19th and 20th century – and topping both lists are…Russians. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, and Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. There are American and British writers on the list, too, thank goodness.
Check out the article here and see if you agree with the voters.
With Amazon slowly taking over the publishing world and bookstores closing left and right, things can sometimes seem a little grim for the brick and mortar booksellers of the world. After all, why would anyone leave the comfort of their couch to buy a book when with just a click of a button, they could have it delivered to their door? Well, here’s why: bookstores so beautiful they’re worth getting out of the house (or the country) to visit whether you need a new hardcover or not.
We can’t overestimate the importance of bookstores — they’re community centers, places to browse and discover, and monuments to literature all at once — so we’ve put together a list of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, from Belgium to Japan to Slovakia. Just so you know now, all you bookstore fiends: neither the Strand nor Powell’s is on this list. They’re both great bookstores, of course, but not particularly pretty (at least in our minds), and thus disqualified. Click through to see our picks for the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and as always, if we’ve left off your favorite, be sure to add to the collection in the comments!