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Literature

Early Bird Books: 10 of Our Favorite First Lines in Literature

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From Melville to Didion, these first sentences created lasting and notable impressions. Some of literature’s most iconic lines come to us within the first paragraphs of our favorite novels. They are the hooks onto which we latch, and the springboards that launch us further into the narrative. There’s a reason these words make up some of the most quotable lines in literature—readers simply can’t get them out of their heads. Take a look below to see some of our favorite opening lines. While first impressions can be tough, they won us over in just a single sentence. “You better not never tell nobody but God.”  The Color Purple By Alice Walker Set in the 1930s, The Color Purple details the…

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13 Novels That’ll Take You Back to School

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When we think of our school days, we remember hours spent in the library, lecture halls that sat hundreds, and all-night study sessions before semester exams. But beyond our academic pursuits, we also encountered plenty of interesting characters. Whether it was a dorm room neighbor, an eccentric professor, or a fellow classmate, the people we met—and the lessons we learned—helped shape who we are today. The campus novel has always been a staple of literature, but the 13 books listed below are at the top of the class. Whether they follow a junior’s coming-of-age journey or satirize elitist academics, each one explores the formative—and sometimes crazy—antics that can happen within the hallowed halls. Less Than Angels, Barbara Pym Though Catherine…

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The Top 10 March Books for Those Sunny Spring Afternoons

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Spring is officially here and so are March books! Sadly, we’re getting warm days, then cold ones. Snowy mornings and sunny afternoons. But the end of winter is finally in sight, which is gearing us up for potential BBQs, beach days and leaving the house without a bulky parka on our backs. That renewed spring energy is making us excited about March books, too. We just want to sit on a sun-soaked porch and dive into a great new read. Luckily, from fantasy to poetry, there are some awesome new releases this month. Here’s a preview of the top 10 March books we can’t wait to wile away the afternoon with, that have either just released or are coming out soon:…

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DIY MFA Radio Episode 134: Literature as a Reflection of Society – Interview with Dr. Sally Parry

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In this week’s timely episode on DIY MFA, Gabriela Pereira interviews Dr. Sally Parry, Executive Director of the Sinclair Lewis society. They discuss Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here and talk about the role of literature in activism and how books can be more than simply a reflection of society.

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How Collective Readership Takes Us Deeper

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I’ve had a long history of questioning my true love for books ever since I had trouble enjoying the novels I was assigned in grade school. In fact, if I look at The Odyssey one more time, I’ll probably lose my mind. As someone who claimed to love books so much, I had to ask myself: ‘Why did I have such difficulty enjoying academically recommended books? Shouldn’t they appeal to the average bibliophile?’ It took me two years worth of college English classes to find my answer. This past semester, I took a class that felt like a weekly book club, except with college credit. Not only was I assigned to read books that have made it to my list…

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Presenting: The Real Housewives of Classic Literature!

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Everyone loves The Real Housewives! OK, to be fair, not everyone is aware of how magical the Real Housewives can be on occasion. While a lot of people find them irritating, where else are you going to find crazy moments where weird rich women debase themselves like insane animals in a menagerie for we the people to marvel at? No matter what your opinion is on The Real Housewives franchise, it’s hard to deny that they’re a bonafide cultural phenomenon. Love them or hate them, their hilarious quips, wild cat fights and generally unblinking attitude towards affluence are here to stay. So, if we were to cast a new season of Real Housewives, populated by some of the most desperate…

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Here’s Why Edgar Allan Poe Still Matters

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Celebrating the death rather than the birthday of the master of the macabre, is only fitting. On this day October 7, 1849 Edgar Allan Poe died at the age of 40 after he was found in a gutter on a side street in Baltimore, Maryland. Some people say he died from an opium overdose, others say it was alcohol poisoning, some believe it was pneumonia, or murder? No one knows. The circumstances surrounding his death intensifies his mystique. It’s eerie and strangely perfect at the same time that a man famous for composing the scariest stories ever would die under a shadow of mystery and suspicion. I had the fortune of being introduced to Poe when, at 9 years old, I…

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These Adorable Animals Reading Will Get You Through Any Work Week!

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It’s Monday folks! Now, before you go drowning your back-to-work blues in a pot full of coffee and sugary donuts (I’m not opposed to that method, by the way), let’s ease into the work week — following a long holiday weekend — with a compilation of animals reading, because really, why not?! And not just any animals, but the cutest, most adorkable little furry, fuzzy, feathery friends ya ever did see. I  mean, everyone knows animals can talk– so they most definitely know how to read. Like, duh! Note: Bunnies were not included in this epic list because they give me the creeps, with their beady eyes and twitchy nose… (Yes, I’m quoting Buffy the Musical right now… shhh, don’t judge me). Anywho, here…

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Short Stories: When Literature Acts as Mirrors to the Mind

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There is a shelf in my bookcase reserved for short story collections. It’s the most frequented section of my library, containing glimpses into thought-provoking words that end too soon. To me, short stories are mini portfolios of a writer’s work, charting the changes undergone over a period of time. In each story, the writer’s mind travels somewhere else. The entire collection, therefore, reveals these changes to the reader. But I’ve recently discovered my coveted shelf of short stories not only reveals changes undergone by the writer–it also contains changes of my own. I graduated high school two years ago, and since then, I’ve unexpectedly comes across three stories I read in my twelfth grade English class: “The Swimmer” by John…

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Review: Dive Into Psychological Mystery on Peregrine Island

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Tolstoy said that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Diane B. Saxton, the debut author of Peregrine Island (She Writes Press, August 2, 2016), would probably agree. Her new novel dives into a memorably dysfunctional family, the Peregrines, living on the titular private island on Long Island Sound. Three generations of women live there: Winter, the calculating matriarch, her rebellious adult daughter, Elsie, and her child daughter, Peda. The novel alternates between these three very distinct viewpoints – giving readers the impression of an isolated family wrapped up in years of internal angst. This serves to heighten the sense of mystery when the main story comes into play. It’s hard to describe what’s going on in Peregrine…

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Magical Giveaways!

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Comment for a chance to win one of this week’s brand spanking new titles. This is Awkward by Sammy Rhodes Don’t waste your awkwardness. One of the saddest realities of life is that the things we need to talk about the most, we tend to talk about the least—from bouts with depression to sexual struggles to parent-wounds that never seem to heal. Raise these issues out loud, and wait for the awkward silence. But those awkward moments are precisely where we find connection with God and one another. In This is Awkward, Sammy Rhodes talks directly, honestly, and hilariously (because sometimes we need to laugh) about the most painfully uncomfortable subjects in our lives. In chapters like “Parents Are a Gift…

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Video: Missed It? Interview with Cate Holahan and Dark Turns

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Nia Washington is an incredibly talented ballerina. She fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart derailed her career. Taking a temporary job at an elite boarding school was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything but. Shortly after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. It’s not long before she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn’t the only target. She…

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Review: Lost World Remembered in House of Twenty Thousand Books

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If a book is a unique glimpse into the mind of an author, then a collection of books is a detailed journey through the life and mind of a reader: a map of the book collector’s intellectual journey through life. In The House of Twenty Thousand Books (New York Review Books, September 1, 2015) this is the journey taken by Sasha Abramsky, whose family was tasked with the job of cleaning out a houseful of books upon his grandfather’s death. His grandfather was no ordinary book collector. The co-owner with his wife Miriam of a London East End bookstore, Chimen Abramsky was an expert on Jewish and socialist texts, a Communist who had become an outspoken critic of the Soviet…

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Sparky Sweets, Ph.D. Drops Literary Wisdom in New Book ‘Thug Notes’

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When I began teaching college-level English, I was a grad student, barely older than the students in my class. We were by and large on the same page, so to speak. We were members of the same generation. We spoke the same language. Now I’m an academic dinosaur, one who’s even been known to wear his eyeglasses on a chain around his neck. Where can I turn to find someone to help me speak the language of younger, hipper students? The man to help me might be Sparky Sweets, Ph.D., host of Thug Notes, a web series of videos in which Sweets (played by comedian Greg Edwards), a man with chains of his own around his neck and a do-rag…

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How to be a Lizzie Bennet, Margaery Tyrell or Scarlett O’Hara bride

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Wedding season is fast approaching, and if you’re in the process of planning your own special day then you’ll soon find yourself facing thousands of difficult decisions. Should you invite that great aunt you barely remember? How mad will your sister be if you don’t make her Maid of Honor? Is there such a thing as too many mason jars? But perhaps the most important decision of all is The Dress. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Whether you want a small country wedding or something a little more off-beat, inspiration can always be found in your favorite novels. Here are six literary-inspired styles to help you find that perfect look on your wedding day: Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and…

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I’d like an order of fashion with my literature, please

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After I got back one of my latest book edits, I noticed that my editor had crossed out about half a page. The note next to it said something like this: “unnecessary description.” And then, “I think you might be a little obsessed with clothes.” Well, she had me there. I am—as all of my friends and family can attest to—more than a little obsessed with clothes. But it’s not just that I have a lot of them (and I do, trust me). I also like to talk about them. I want to know where you got that shirt and those shoes, I check about ten different style blogs every day, and when I’m reading a book I have a…

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