25 best sites for literature lovers

themillionsFlavorwire, as regular readers know, is one of my favorite websites, where I’ve been known to spend too much time (thought because it’s about all things literary, artistic etc I don’t feel too guilty). Recently, Jason Diamond, one of their writers,  came up with The 25 Best Sites for Literature Lovers. I expected that I’d know most of them, but I was intrigued and surprised by the list. It included stalwarts like the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Paris Review Daily, and Granta, but there were many others I hadn’t heard of, like The Millionsrecommended_reading_logoElectric Literature’s Recommended Reading and the Public Domain Review – even a couple of literary podcasts. Well worth a look when you need to take a break from whatever you’re supposed to be doing…

P.S. Last Monday’s headline post was An English Room: Photos of Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry and more in their favorite rooms. What’s not to like?

On the trail of great writers – via Flavorwire

 My internet friend Emily put me onto this great article via her blog, RosieSaysBlog.  Jason Diamond, over at Flavorwire, a site I love, recently published a list of the 50 Places Every Literature Fan Should Visit.  I’m a bit of a literary groupie, as readers of this blog will know, so I was eager to see how many of the list I’d been to, since I’m fascinated by the environments in which writers produce their great work.

Not surprisingly, I’d visited some of the English ones, Jane Austen’s home and the Bronte Parsonage, as well as others not on the list. But, shockingly, I had never been to the Charles Dickens House. And I’m a big Dickens fan.

Sorry, Mr Dickens

Sorry, Mr Dickens

In the US, I’ve been to the Mark Twain house, Ernest Hemingway’s house in Oak Park, IL, and the one in Key West (not on the list), Emily Dickinson’s house, the Algonquin Hotel and Charles Scribner’s bookshop – where I actually bought books before it closed down. And I’ve visited the La Fonda Hotel, (not on the list) in Taos, N.M, where D.H Lawrence’s ‘Forbidden art’ paintings can be seen.

I think it was one of these chairs...

I think it was one of these chairs…

I went to Victor Hugo’s house in Paris in December, (not on the list), but have never been to Balzac’s house (on the list). I have, however, sat in the very same chair that Scott Fitzgerald sat in at the Deux Magots cafe in Paris (on the list). Well, it might have been the very same chair…

But there are so many other places I now want to see. Check out the article out and let me know of any literary places you recommend. There are plenty for me to be going on with, but some of them are in Russia, or other far-flung places, so probably aren’t on my horizon for a while.

What do critics know, anyway?

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

Read the whole article here

Are Russian writers truly the greatest?

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.

Cheer up – The book isn’t dead yet…

Flavorwire is a site I’ve quoted before (http://gabicoatsworth.com/2011/12/02/feeling-rejected/), and today Emily Temple has come up with some gorgeous photos of the world’s most lovely bookstores – not the largest, just the most beautiful. Here’s what she had to say:

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!

Click here to see the photos:


Feeling rejected?

My friend Ina Chadwick proposed at our Writers’ Cafe in Westport this week that we paper the ceiling with our rejection slips. I immediately went home and threw all mine out (except the ones that actually said something nice. Both of them.) But she has a point. It’s hard to feel upbeat when you get those slips in the mail (or the equivalent online response, which is a deadly silence).



So, to help you feel better, here is an article with some of the toughest rejection letters ever. And they’ve been written to, among others, Gertrude Stein, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. Le Guin and Jack Kerouac.  Ouch!


I’ll bet yours aren’t as bad as this!