Why Are Schools Abandoning Literature?

I recently spent time with a class of fourteen-year-olds, talking about words, specifically words strung together to form speech. I started out by asking them whether they thought words could make people act in a particular way. “Can words lead to action?” I asked. There was some thinking and mulling over. We spent several weeks … Continued

Books, Culture

Nancy Drew Can Be Any Race—But Not Any Age

The Nancy Drew television series now in development at CBS made headlines this month when CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller told The Hollywood Reporter that Nancy “[will] not [be] Caucasian.” That’s fine, and even a welcome step for those who believe that television should better reflect the growing diversity in the United States. As someone … Continued

Books, Entertainment, Television

Post-Halloween Hangover Cure: 80s Horror Novels

If you’re looking for a post-Halloween thrill more lasting than the adrenaline rush of a slasher film, here’s a recommendation: Valancourt Books. Valancourt is a small independent publisher in Richmond, Virginia, that specializes in rediscovered horror fiction. Founded in 2005, Valancourt began by reissuing Gothic fiction from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In … Continued


He’s Not a “Reluctant Reader.” He’s a Boy.

Stand around with any group of moms of elementary school-aged boys and eventually the words “reluctant” and “reader” will enter the conversation. A recently released local book list for the summer called attention to the fact that it was designed to entice reluctant readers. The “reluctant” umbrella captures a wide swath of children today, especially … Continued


Love Lessons from ‘Anne of Green Gables’

Recently, I was staring at a huge tree, its branches covered in white blossoms. It had been a long winter in Washington, D.C., and I caught myself deliberately slowing my steps, wanting to savor the sight of the tree as long as possible. Didn’t, I thought, Anne of Green Gables have a tree like this? … Continued

Books, Entertainment, Movies

Sex and the Single Girl: A Review of ‘How to Build a Girl’

So here’s the problem: I really liked Caitlin Moran’s newest book, How to Build a Girl. Her protagonist, Johanna Morrigan, is funny, interesting, smart, and complicated. Her insecurities and embarrassments and dreams are very real. She’s the sort of person a lot of nerdy girls can relate to: a lover of literature who always says … Continued


The Books We Love and What They Say About Us

A new status has been popping up on Facebook lately, and it’s not, surprisingly enough, more #IceBucketChallenge posts. Instead, users are sharing their “top 10 books.” The status usually prompts participants to list 10 books that have “stayed with them” in some way. It encourages people to answer the prompt quickly, without over-analyzing the question; … Continued


In Defense of Violent, Sexy, Revenge-Based Fiction

I admit it: I like violent, sexy entertainment in which people and things I hate get overthrown or blown up. I consider this enthusiasm completely healthy and normal. Through recorded human history people have had a need for catharsis, for emotional purging, for gaining revenge through fantasies depicted by other people. If it doesn’t spill … Continued


Why Romance Novels Turn Women On

A whopping 25 percent of American adults did not read a single book in 2013, according to The Pew Research Center.  In just over three decades, the number of non-reading adults has nearly tripled.  This finding—that one quarter of American adults did not open a paperback, fire up a Kindle, or listen to an audiobook … Continued


Why Does Everyone Love “The Goldfinch”?

The Goldfinch is having a moment. Published in October of last year, the novel by Donna Tartt has received wide acclaim from readers and critics. It’s become something of a pop culture phenomenon. Which prompts the question—why do people love it so much? The book is 771 pages long. It’s the story of a boy … Continued