Into the Book

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Literature/Philosophy


  1. When I first read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek nearly five years ago, I was struck by how Annie Dillard wrote about the natural world with such a powerful voice, seeing creeks as if they held the secret to life. Her trademark has always been a wonder at the natural world that catches you up in “seeing with a sense of urgency, as if when you blink the entire elaborate picture will have vanished” (Read my review of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek). Teaching a Stone to Talk is a book that doesn’t change her core focuses, yet feels incredibly different from Pilgrim. Read on for more: (more…)

  2. There are those who say that television rots our brains. Neil Postman would disagree. Rather than rotting our brains, he would say, it removes the necessity to use them. Now, this isn’t some old crank arguing about kids not playing outside anymore, or that the violence on TV will make us murderous. No, Postman argues that the way television presents information is erasing our need to think. Books, he writes, are the solution. As a writer on a book review website, just allow me to adjust my monocle and I’ll tell you why.

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  3. A Memoir of the Craft

    If you’re looking for a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to becoming a better writer, Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is not the book for you. But that’s what I liked most about it. Rather than hitting us with a set of opinions as to why his writing has been so successful, and a 5-point plan to tap into those supposed ‘principles of best-selling writing’, King gives us a living example of excellent, transparent writing in the text of the book itself. (more…)

  4. When I was young, I dreamed of being something amazing when I grew up. I dreamed of being a super-powered crime-fighter, a ship-captain sailing the seven seas, even a teacher educating students on complicated subjects (because that would mean I was actually good at maths). As I grew older, my goals shifted to other things, finally settling to become a writer. Yet, for whatever reason, one thing that I never considered being was a prophet.

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  5. Everyone loves a story, and Mike Cosper is here to argue that stories are built into our psyche. His new book, The Stories We Tell is an attempt to recover the value behind storytelling, rather than just conceding the area to “a trashy modern culture. The Stories we Tell looks at common stories and movies in our culture to show how even secular TV and movies long for and echo the truth. Cosper asks the question, “Can we learn something from our insatiable addiction to stories?” Read on for more.

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  6. I am a language nerd. The way that we use language to communicate fascinates me. Every great story ever written, every love letter, every declaration of war — all of it uses language. I’m fascinated by how languages evolve, interacting with one another to overlap and produce new words and meanings. David Crystal’s book, The Story of English in 100 Words, looks at one hundred influential words that exhibit some of the major changes and evolutions that English has undergone over the past five hundred years. (more…)

  7. William Faulkner has been on my to-read list for years. He pioneered the stream-of-consciousness technique of writing (along with Virginia Woolfe and James Joyce, also on my to-read lists — it’s a long list), and his books are “classics” with really fantastic-sounding titles. As I lay dying is thought by many to be his best work: he famously wrote it in six weeks and didn’t change a word of it after writing it. I dove in with high hopes and few expectations. Read on for more. (more…)

  8. I’ve read my fair share of Shakespeare plays, but Much Ado About Nothing had slipped through the cracks until now. Benedick, Beatrice, and the intrigues to besmirch Hero are all new to me, and I jumped into the play with a lot of anticipation. Good old Will didn’t let me down.
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  9. Dante’s Purgatory is the anchor of the Divine Comedy: less well-known than Inferno, but still more rooted in the human condition than Paradiso. It’s a story of restoration and the place where saved souls are prepared for heaven. Regardless of your doctrinal views, Purgatory is the meat of the Divine Comedy, and some of Dante’s finest work. His masterful understanding of human nature causes the saved souls of Purgatory to jump off the page as relatable human beings, even hundreds of years later.

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  10. So you’ve written a book. Or maybe you want to write the next great American novel. Regardless of where you’re at in the process, writing is hard. Writing well is even harder. And getting your book published is hardest of all. In How to Grow a Novel, Sol Stein walks readers through editing and revision. The goal is to come out the other side with a polished novel that is prepared for publication: Stein accomplishes this goal with detail and excellence.

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