Archive for the ‘Book Club’ category

Already gone

I’m nearing the end of my fourth time teaching a NYUAD Core course called “Contagion,” in our gen ed category “Pathways to World Literature.” You can find the full syllabus here. Our final novel is Colson Whitehead’s Zone One. I had to post about it on my course’s blog, since my students have all taken […]

Elastic time: Open City

Cross-posted from From its first sentence I had a hunch that Teju Cole’s Open City (2011) would have been a perfect fit for the Writing New York syllabus Cyrus Patell and I tinkered with for almost a decade, and when we eventually take up the course again — Inshalla — I take very seriously […]

End-of-summer book club: Teju Cole’s Open City

Looking for one last, fantastic read before summer ends? This year I’m pitching Teju Cole’s 2011 award-winning novel Open City to anyone who’ll listen. It’s brief but still feels bursting with detailed observation, beautifully written, and as important a novel I’ve read about global politics and local identity in a long, long time. Set in […]

Top 5 bits of advice for first-time readers of Moby-Dick

In my line of work it’s fairly common to come across people who’ve started Moby-Dick but found themselves stalled somewhere along the way: in the details of the ship, the proliferation of supporting characters, the intimate chronicle of whale-parts and boiling blubber. That’s to be expected. It’s not supposed to be an easy read. Right […]

Six-year-old judges books by covers

As a follow-up to this, we now have this: A six-year-old who looks at book covers and then declares what she thinks the books are about. Samples:   “That looks VERY CREEPY!!!” (My daughter insisted that there be three, exactly three exclamation points). “It looks like it would be scary and very very strange and […]

Bloomsday wanderings

June 16 is a day of celebration and extreme geekery for modernist lit types everywhere, but nowhere more so than Dublin, which is so explicitly and accurately mapped in Joyce’s Ulysses that if you care about it at all, it’s still possible (required, even) to trace the exact path its antiheroic protagonist Leopold Bloom walks […]

Alternative Book Titles

OK, so I’m laid up with a busted ankle after a poorly executed slide into second base on Sunday. I’m on the couch all day, so have plenty of time to write a wonderful post for you people. But I don’t feel like writing, OK? I feel like playing online poker and watching bad TV. […]

Sex education

Teen fiction is a massive fiction market, but when I was a teenager in the early 1980s we had to make the leap from children’s literature to literature with nothing in between.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I vividly remember the cruelty and transgression of Paul Zindel’s The Pigman and the taboo-busting discussions of menstruation […]

Tuesday book review

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, is the best nonfiction book I’ve read in a very long time. It’s an amazing, complex story told with remarkable skill by a narrator you feel you want to know. The old cliche came true for me: I was sorry to see it end. It’s the […]

The Monday Photo (cat-in-a-box)