50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

Flavorwire

It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list.

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The Unbearable Ironies of Libraries in Wartime

Flavorwire

Yesterday we learned from Yahoo News! that ISIS has used improvised explosive devices to destroy several historic landmarks in the Iraqi city of Mosul, including the Mosul University Theater, the Church of Mary the Virgin, and the Mosul Public Library. In the case of the library, which is now offline, ISIS destroyed more than 8,000 items from a collection that includes “manuscripts from the eighteenth century, Syriac books printed in Iraq’s first printing house in the nineteenth century, books from the Ottoman era, Iraqi newspapers from the early twentieth century and some old antiques like an astrolabe and sand glass used by ancient Arabs.”

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Jon Scieska & Lane Smith – Math Curse and Science Verse

The Book Wars

This week I present to you two books that are an interesting mix of nonsense and non-fiction. Math Curse and Science Verse, created by author/illustrator team Jon Scieska and Lane Smith, which, under the pretence of teaching maths and science embark on a fanciful, lyrical voyage into the minds of children as they grapple with concepts that seem to swallow life whole (or is it hole?). The books don’t exactly teach science and maths though there are certainly concepts, terms, numbers and equations in the mix. What they do do is do praise creative and whimsical thinking in combination with maths and science, the combine wordplay with these subjects and show that, with a dash of nonsense and wonder that perhaps… maths can be just a little fun? Afterall, haven’t we all wondered:

How many yards in a neighborhood? How many inches in a pint? How many feet in my shoes?

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The Advent Calendar of Literature: Day 17

Interesting Literature

Over the last few days, we’ve discussed Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and the various interesting facts that we’ve unearthed surrounding its composition, publication, and legacy. It is, of course, one of the most enduring stories of the Victorian age – perhaps of all time.

Gabriel GrubBut A Christmas Carol wasn’t the first Christmas story Dickens wrote. It wasn’t even the first Christmas ghost story Dickens wrote.

He’d already written ‘The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton’, featuring miserly Gabriel Grub, an inset tale in his first ever published novel, The Pickwick Papers (1836-7).

The tale shares many of the narrative features which would turn up a few years later in A Christmas Carol: the misanthropic villain, the Christmas Eve setting, the presence of the supernatural (goblins/ghosts), the use of visions which the main character is forced to witness, the focus on poverty and family, and, most…

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Talking Tats with Taylor

The Hooch: News & Events

Our next special-focus issue, due out in January, is all aboutSkin. Eva Talmadge, co-author ofThe Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide, talks with editor Anna Schachner in the editor’s note, and so we asked co-authorJustin Taylorto give us some additional insight on what is fast becoming a subculture. First, a little about the book:

The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwideis a guide to the emerging subculture of literary tattoos—a collection of 100 full-color photographs of human skin indelibly adorned with quotations and images from Pynchon to Dickinson to Shakespeare to Plath. Packed with beloved lines of verse, literary portraits, and illustrations—and statements from the bearers on their tattoos’ history and the personal significance of the chosen literary work—The Word Made Flesh is part photo collection, part literary anthology written on skin.

Special features include a reprint of…

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