You’ve probably read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Catcher in the Rye,” but what about John Updike’s “Rabbit, Run” or E.E. Cummings’ “The Enormous Room”?
Find out how many of the 200 best American novels you’ve read.

You’ve probably read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Catcher in the Rye,” but what about John Updike’s “Rabbit, Run” or E.E. Cummings’ “The Enormous Room”?

Find out how many of the 200 best American novels you’ve read.

If you’ve ever judged a book by its cover, you might have been looking at the work of designer Peter Mendelsund.

Learn about the art of his designs.

npr:

Madeline is 75…
Yes, the series is still alive!

Three cheers for Madeline.

npr:

Madeline is 75…

Yes, the series is still alive!

Three cheers for Madeline.

Dr. John Ross:

The only medical fact known about Shakespeare with certainty is that his final signatures show a marked tremor. Compared to other Elizabethans, Shakespeare had an unhealthy obsession with syphilis. D. H. Lawrence wrote, “I am convinced that some of Shakespeare’s horror and despair, in his tragedies, arose from the shock of his consciousness of syphilis.”

According to contemporary gossip, Shakespeare was not only notoriously promiscuous, but was also part of a love triangle in which all three parties contracted venereal disease. The standard Elizabethan treatment for syphilis was mercury; as the saying goes, “a night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury.” Mercury’s more alarming adverse effects include drooling, gum disease, personality changes, and tremor. (In the eighteenth century, mercury was used in the manufacture of felt hats, leading to the expressions “hatter’s shakes” and “mad as a hatter”). Did Shakespeare’s writing career end prematurely due to side effects of mercury treatment?

Milton, the Bronte sisters, Melville, Yeats, Joyce and Orwell — How disease may have infected your favorite books

"It softens the boundaries between people."
Author George Saunders spoke with Jeffrey Brown about the importance of the short story and his new book, “Tenth of December”. Stay tuned for the full interview later this week.

"It softens the boundaries between people."

Author George Saunders spoke with Jeffrey Brown about the importance of the short story and his new book, “Tenth of December”. Stay tuned for the full interview later this week.

Adding “reading” to the check-up list: National literacy program Reach Out and Read’s new breed of pediatricians — part doctor, part teacher — help parents share books with their children to encourage cognitive development. 


But why the doctor’s office? Because that’s the one place where all children, including those most at risk, go regularly before they enter school.


Without some school experience before first grade, most low-income children are almost guaranteed to begin school behind everyone else.


And we are talking about a lot of children here; 5.1 million American children under the age of 5 are growing up in poverty. So what are states doing to get these kids ready for first grade? See for yourself.


Only 10 states and the District of Columbia tell schools they must provide full day kindergarten; 34 states require half-day programs, and six states do not require any kindergarten at all.


Preschool programs like Head Start reach about one-third of 3- and 4-year-olds. And in spite of their proven success, early education programs are now being cut.


That leaves it to programs like Reach Out and Read to pick up the slack. About 11,000 children a year come through the clinic at Bellevue. All are from low-income homes and, for most, English is their second language… More


NOTE: After this segment was filmed, Bellevue Hospital was flooded by Hurricane Sandy and almost all the program’s books were lost. Help rebuild their library by making a monetary contribution here (Donation Category: Reach out and Read) or contact Marie Betancourt at roramarie1@aol.com to determine other ways you can help.

Let’s hope no books were harmed in the making of this maze at the Southbank Centre in London. Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo used 250,000 books to create the “aMAZEme" labyrinth. 
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

Let’s hope no books were harmed in the making of this maze at the Southbank Centre in London. Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo used 250,000 books to create the “aMAZEme" labyrinth. 

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

'Watcher'

— After Katrina, 2005

At first, there was nothing to do but watch.
For days, before the trucks arrived, before the work
of cleanup, my brother sat on the stoop and watched.

He watched the ambulances speed by, the police cars;
watched for the looters who’d come each day
to siphon gas from the car, take away the generator,

the air conditioner, whatever there was to be had.
He watched his phone for a signal, watched the sky
for signs of a storm, for rain so he could wash.

At the church, handing out diapers and water,
he watched the people line up, watched their faces
as they watched his. And when at last there was work,

he got a job, on the beach, as a watcher.
Behind safety goggles, he watched the sand for bones,
searched for debris that clogged the great machines.

Riding the prow of the cleaners, or walking ahead,
he watched for carcasses - chickens mostly, maybe 
some cats or dogs. No one said remains. No one

had to. It was a kind of faith, that watching:
my brother trained his eyes to bear
the sharp erasure of sand and glass, prayed

there’d be nothing more to see.

Natasha Trethewey, the new U.S. Poet Laureate. Her book “Beyond Katrina” chronicles the personal accounts of how people of the Gulf Coast region, including her family, have lived with the treat and consequences of natural disaster for generations.

"You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."

Ray Bradbury

Bradbury, the author of “Fahrenheit 451,” has died in California. He was 91. 

"We were trained as writers with the idea that literature is something that can change reality. That it’s not just a very sophisticated entertainment, but a way to act. Today these ideas have disappeared practically among the new generation. Now the young writers consider that it’s too pretentious to think that literature can produce this kind of thing. But when I was young, when I started to write, we were totally convinced that literature was a kind of weapon,” Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa
—What do you think the role of literature is today? How has it changed?

"We were trained as writers with the idea that literature is something that can change reality. That it’s not just a very sophisticated entertainment, but a way to act. 

Today these ideas have disappeared practically among the new generation. Now the young writers consider that it’s too pretentious to think that literature can produce this kind of thing. 

But when I was young, when I started to write, we were totally convinced that literature was a kind of weapon,” Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa


What do you think the role of literature is today? How has it changed?