Why Thomas Hardy, Not Jane Austen, Is a Better Guide to Love

Valentine’s Day is here, and with it, the usual slew of literary and pop culture reminders of what love does to us. Pick your poison—Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks, the Brontes, Old Hollywood, 90s rom coms, BBC bodice rippers—we are saturated by reminders that a rewarding life includes a worthy, rewarding and, above all, romantic relationship. … Continued

Books, Culture

When Bad Words Are Said to Good Children

Should bad words be read to children? This question surfaced last week when children’s author Dan Gutman posted his response to a parent letter on Facebook asking whether it was appropriate to use the N-word in books for young audiences. Gutman rose to fame with his My Weird School series. The wacky volumes, beloved by … Continued

Books, Culture

The Everlasting Appeal of Natalie Babbitt

Whether they recognize her name or not, most elementary school students know Natalie Babbitt very well. They know her through the pages of her book, Tuck Everlasting, which seems like a typical children’s story but in fact masterfully raises a complicated question of immortality, namely: What if we could live forever? This week, news of … Continued

Books, Culture

Stop Dumbing Down Books for Teens

During my senior year AP English class in high school, we read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It was brutal. I thought I was a pretty good reader because I had worked my way through most of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and Leo Tolstoy, but I struggled to get through Heart of Darkness. To … Continued


Make Captain Ahab American Again

If Moby-Dick has been on your reading bucket list for years, the time has come to cross it off. Plymouth University in England has just completed its three-year project to convert Moby-Dick into an audiobook and podcast. And the question is, why did it take a British University to decide the world needed to hear … Continued


Is ‘Sense and Sensibility’ Feminist?

Jane Austen didn’t need Hollywood to make her male characters “feminists.” That’s the insulting premise of a recent Atlantic essay by Devoney Looser, who writes that the Emma Thompson-Hugh Grant-helmed 1995 movie adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, “deliberately imbued Austen’s first published heroes with qualities they either didn’t have in the novel or didn’t have … Continued

Books, Entertainment, Movies

Dude, Where’s my ‘Walden’?

A recently announced project on Kickstarter aims to fund the publication of a revised edition of Walden with “modernized vocabulary” and the aim of allowing “modern readers” to be enriched by the famous book. The project is the brain child of writer and designer Matt Steel, a devotee of Thoreau. Written in 1854 during the … Continued