Books You Should Read

Avidly’s book discussions might be argumentative, or they might stay at the level of intense, affectionate observation. We welcome endorsements of and engagement with any books that get you going, from new archival finds to out-of-your-sphere masterworks to a particularly satisfying children’s book or pool-side read. Write here: to recommend to friends the books you’d like to discuss with them.

25 Nineteenth-Century Literary Characters to Consider Inviting to Your Holiday Party

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24
December 12, 2013
header_19th_century

1: Queequeg, Moby-Dick Why: Tats. Why not: Will not actually have sex with you. 2: Lily Bart, The House of Mirth Why: Looks great; laughs at your jokes. Why not: Do you really want to encourage her to drink? 3: The Caterpillar, Alice in Wonderland Why: Has hookah. Why not: Bogarts hookah. 4: Esther Summerson,...
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Witnessing Violence: Thoughts on McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave

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2
October 24, 2013
Witnessing Violence: Thoughts on McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave

Twelve Years a Slave is a narrative about how we see things. It’s the story of a free man in Saratoga, New York who is captured into slavery in 1843 and struggles for twelve years to regain his freedom. The book, published in 1853 and written by Northup with a white lawyer, David Wilson,...
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We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful

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1
October 22, 2013
We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful

It’s a grey UK autumn; Morrissey’s autobiography has just been published as a Penguin Classic, with a blue photo of him looking fey and fetching on the front. The marketing strategy alone, which plants Morrissey snugly next to Ovid, Plato, and Nabokov on the bookshelf, is brilliant. And yet the people squirm. I’m bemused,...
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Adapting Zelda: Reflecting on Therese Anne Fowler’s Z

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1
August 29, 2013
Adapting Zelda: Reflecting on Therese Anne Fowler’s Z

A novel titled “Z” should eventually, if not immediately, make the reader think of one of the more famous and talented American literary wives. Therese Anne Fowler’s novel successfully—for the most part—retells the energetic, tense two decades of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s relationship. Published in a year that’s seen several adaptations of the Fitzgeralds...
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Britney, Our Lady of Perpetuity

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7
July 10, 2013
Britney, Our Lady of Perpetuity

“toward dinnertime, you do what you came to do: Ziggy Stardust and American Graffiti. Funny the things that save our lives.”                                                 —Heather McNaugher   “Bullshit,” Paul says, twisting his red beard between his thumb and forefinger, “Andy would be obsessed with Beyoncé. Britney is too much of a mess.” “But that’s the point!”...
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The Growth of A Year

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4
June 11, 2013
The Growth of A Year

I troop forth replenish’d with supreme power, one of an average unending procession, Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines, Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth, The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years.   Eleves, I salute you! come forward! Continue...
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Books You Should Read: Tinkers, by Paul Harding

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3
May 16, 2013
Books You Should Read: Tinkers, by Paul Harding

It was deep winter and dark seventeen hours a day. I was up every two to three hours with my newborn son who had a tongue tie and was not gaining enough weight. There was so little day to confuse with night that neither of us felt the gradual shift toward light for weeks....
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Why The Kids (And I) Still Love Gatsby

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5
May 9, 2013
Gatsby Yellow

One of my former colleagues used to say that all high school students love The Great Gatsby, although he claimed that most of them love it for “the wrong reasons.”  He’s right about the love. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel elicits more passionately positive reactions from a wider variety of adolescent readers than any other...
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Plots Otherwise Without Aim

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2
April 18, 2013
Plots Otherwise Without Aim

I grew up in the North Jersey precincts of Philip Roth and Amiri Baraka, but the literary home of my youth was in the West. My family traveled by motorhome throughout my childhood and I spent most of my summers reading westerns in situ. In the summer of 1985, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove was...
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Judging a Book by its Bonk

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1
February 18, 2013
Judging a Book by its Bonk

I don’t play polo. Never have. I’ve never seen a polo match, or particularly wanted to see one. I have been on horseback just often enough in my life to know what one should and shouldn’t do; I am hardly what a certain type of English person might still describe as “a horsey gel.”...
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