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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/04/05 Permalink
    Tags: 100 selected poems, alessandra lynch, , anne carson, autobiography of red, bull, calling a wolf a wolf, courtney peppernell, dalily called it a dangerous moment, danez smith, david elliott, devotions, don't call us dead, , , exlizabeth acevedo, good bones, gwendolyn brooks, kaveh akbar, kiki petrosino, langston hughes, maggie smith, magic with skin on, , , , morgan nikola-wren, nikita gill, no matter the wreckage, , pillow thoughts, , rumi, , sarah kay, selected poems, shakespeare's sonnets, sun yung shin, the collected poems, the essential rumi: selected poems, the poet x, , the rose that grew from concrete, tupac shakur, twenty love poems and a song of despair, unbearable splendor, wild embers, william shakespeare, witch wife   

    25 Must-Reads for National Poetry Month 

    April is National Poetry month, so we’ve got verses and rhymes and metaphors on the brain. Poetry is wonderfully expressive, and features everything from the most intimate of stories to the grandest of adventures. Here are 25 must-reads for the month!

    Devotions, by Mary Oliver
    One of America’s classic poets has a new collection of 200 poems. Follow Oliver through her poetic journey starting when she was only 28 years old through today, with themes of belonging, nature, and the importance of asking questions.

    Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
    If you’re in the mood for emotional vignettes about what it means to be a woman, to be in love, to be marginalized, and to find your strength, this one’s for you. Once you’ve savored it, pick up the more recent The Sun and Her Flowers.


    Calling a Wolf a Wolf, by Kaveh Akbar
    A story of recovery told in verse, this poetry collection is about living with ghosts and learning to love yourself.

    Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
    One of the most famous poems in 2016 comes from a larger anthology that touches on the unique experience of motherhood that is worth reading no matter your stage in life.

    Don’t Call Us Dead, by Danez Smith
    A fascinating anthology of poetry about the African-American experience in America. Imagine a world where black men are surrounded by love and happiness…but it exists after death. Themes of death, revolution, police brutality, and so much more are explored in this provocative book.

    The Princess Saves Herself In This One, by Amanda Lovelace
    Another feminist poetry anthology to start your month off right. This collection tackles issues like body positivity, assault, surviving grief, and so much more.

    The Rose That Grew from Concrete, by Tupac Shakur
    A wise soul taken from us too soon leaves behind a legacy of beautiful, poignant writing about poverty, systemic racism, violence, and love.

    Unbearable Splendor, by Sun Yung Shin
    A beautiful collection about identity, family, the immigrant experience, and being a modern woman.

    Dalily Called it a Dangerous Moment, by Alessandra Lynch
    Trauma is an experience that can rarely be defined in words, but this collection rips open the mechanics of overcoming trauma, specifically sexual assault, through the poet’s modern yet timeless way with words.

    Witch Wife, by Kiki Petrosino
    This stunning spellbook on love, being a woman in all phases of life, motherhood, and inhabiting the female body will cast a spell on you.

    Pillow Thoughts, by Courtney Peppernell
    The course of true love never did run smooth, but this poetry collection about heartbreak and finding the courage to move on will smooth over all your rough edges, if you’re feeling particularly jagged after a breakup.

    Bull, by David Elliott
    Another novel-in-verse based on a myth, this time in the young adult genre: Bull tells the story of Asterion, but you know him by another name: The Minotaur. But who was the boy before he was a monster? Irreverent, with equal amounts of humor and tragedy, this retelling is part tragedy, part villain origin story.

    Magic With Skin On, by Morgan Nikola-Wren
    Another tome that spins words like magic, this debut poetry collection is about the connection the artist has with her muse, who is currently nowhere to be found.

    The Essential Rumi: Selected Poems, by Rumi
    Rumi’s poetry is everlasting, and applies to the modern age more and more with reminders to trust yourself, be kind and compassionate, and find love everywhere.

    Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
    A poetry collection by a classic writer whom you may know a little about, but who otherwise remains a mystery. These poems are dark and haunting, bordering on magical, and explore the intersections of humanity, devotion, longing, and obsession.

    Selected Poems, by Gwendolyn Brooks
    The very first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry definitely deserves to be read. (You may already know one of her famous poems, “We Real Cool”, about the consequences of risky behavior.)

    The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
    In this recent New York Times bestseller, an Afro-Latina poet struggles to express herself surrounded by family and culture she often feels at odds with. She likes a boy her family wouldn’t approve of; her mother wants her to be a strict Catholic…and performing her poetry is something she craves, but fears could break her from the world she knows.

    Wild Embers, by Nikita Gill
    A feminist collection that blends the world of magic with the world of women. You will be inspired by tales of mythic heroines and how their stories connect with your own.

    Shakespeare’s Sonnets, by William Shakespeare
    He may be known for his plays, but Shakespeare’s sonnets are just as beautiful, tragic, inspiring, and honest about human nature.

    Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson
    Switching things up for a novel in verse! This re-telling of a Greek myth is about a boy-monster who flees a tragic upbringing and finds himself turning to a man with a familiar name: Herakles. Geryon finds himself falling for the man, only to be broken-hearted. Love, lust, and coming-of-age can be found in this tale.

    Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, by Pablo Neruda
    Pablo Neruda is one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated poets, infusing his work with Latino history, culture, and imagery. One interesting thing to note about this collection is that the love poems are often tinged with sadness, reflecting the true nature of the feeling we all crave, that can often leave us brokenhearted.

    100 Selected Poems, by E.E. Cummings
    E.E. Cummings may be a classic poet now, but his work is largely considered experimental and different from the norm. Cummings was also a visual artist, and some of his paintings are collected here!

    The Collected Poems, by Langston Hughes
    Fifty years’ worth of Langston Hughes’ most moving poems (many of which haven’t been published in book form before) is an incredible survey of the life and passion of one of America’s most celebrated poet.

    No Matter the Wreckage, by Sarah Kay
    You may have seen her TEDx Talk, but Sarah Kay also has a poetry collection. It’s the perfect anthology of poems about adolescence, femininity, race, culture, and family.

    Poems, by Maya Angelou
    James Baldwin said of this collection: “Black, bitter, and beautiful, she speaks to our survival.” One of our most important and influential writers, Maya Angelou’s poetry deals with the black experience, womanhood, and so much more.

    The post 25 Must-Reads for National Poetry Month appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Brian Boone 2:00 pm on 2017/11/02 Permalink
    Tags: , ana of california, andi teran, , , , dorian an imitation, going bovine, , , , , , maya lang, , , page to page, , the sixteenth of june, , will self, william shakespeare   

    5 Books You Didn’t Know Were Remakes 

    Many standup comedians have made the amusing joke/observation that us creative humans in the Western world don’t hesitate to remake movies or songs but we never remake books. The most famous variation on the gag—after expressing that sentiment, the comedian mentions that they’re writing a word-for-word remake of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The thing is, authors remake other authors’ material all the time. It’s just that in the world of books they’re called “adaptations” or “re-imaginings.” Here are some books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works.

    A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is a remake of Shakespeare’s King Lear
    One of big reasons why Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest author, or playwright, of all time, is because his stories and characters continue to resonate through the centuries. The Bard wrote his stuff 400 years ago, and it’s still solid, because his themes are universal and his characters are relatable. Once in a while, an author will use one of Shakespeare’s plays as a jumping-off point—they just need to update the language. And the settings. And the plots. And into prose from dialogue. Perhaps the best example of Shakespeare 2.0 is Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres. Because a king deciding which daughter to bequeath his kingdom to is a little irrelevant to the modern United States, Smiley made it about three daughters up to inherit their aging father’s farm. Smiley won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel.

    Going Bovine by Libba Bray is a remake of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote
    Miguel de Cervantes’ epic comedy Don Quixote is about a man with both mental illness and delusions of grandeur—it’s pretty modern and sophisticated for having been published four centuries ago. But hey, funny is funny, and comedy is eternal. Libba Bray deftly reworked the vast, complicated classic into a digestible modern tale set in high school. A regular guy named Cameron contracts Mad Cow Disease, as one does, and suffers from all kinds of delightful hallucinations.

    The Sixteenth of June by Maya Lang is a remake of James Joyce’s Ulysses
    James Joyce’s crowning achievement is Ulysses, an astonishingly detailed, hyper-realistic look at a single day in Dublin, Ireland—June 16, 1904. Commemorations of that day are now known as Bloomsday, after one the book’s many, many characters, Leo Bloom. Almost as real as Joyce’s physical descriptions are the richly rendered characters. “A day in the life” is a repeatable formula, but difficult to do well. Author Maya Lang pulls it off with The Sixteenth of June. It’s a cutting, insightful, emotional look at the good people of Philadelphia on June 16, 2004. A couple of people even throw a Bloomsday party! (Of course, if you want to get technical, Ulysses itself is a remake of the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey.)

    Ana of California by Andi Teran is a remake of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables
    You can’t improve on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s moving story of plucky, idiosyncratic red-headed orphan Anne Shirley charming the once crusty townsfolk of Avonlea. You can only re-create it in another time and place. At its core, Anne of Green Gables is a story about how hard it is to a new place, and fit in while maintaining your identity and integrity, and Andi Teran maintains all of Montgomery’s themes in her Anne reimagining, Ana of California. And she does it quite well, telling the tale of a teenage orphan named Ana Cortez who leaves the foster care system and East L.A. for a farm work program in Northern California.

    Dorian by Will Self is a remake of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
    What if Oscar Wilde were Bret Easton Ellis? Then he’d write Dorian. Of course, Will Self already wrote this book in 2002. Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray story of a fresh-faced man and his grotesquely aging portrait called out and satirized the superficial. Self logically adapted the novel to take place in the equally hollow and image-conscious world of the 1980s London art scene.

    What are your favorite literary remakes?

    The post 5 Books You Didn’t Know Were Remakes appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Monique Alice 5:35 pm on 2016/06/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , the bard revisited, william shakespeare   

    The Taming of the Shrew Gets a Modern Makeover in Vinegar Girl 

    Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl is the latest in Hogarth’s series of Shakespearean classics retold by contemporary authors. With Vinegar Girl, Tyler (The Amateur Marriage) gives us her take on that classic tale of dating disagreeably, The Taming of the Shrew.

    In case it has been a while since you last cracked open the 10th-grade English mainstay, here’s a quick refresher: Renaissance-era Italian noblewoman intimidates area suitors with her intelligence, attractiveness, and impressive command of sarcasm. Younger sister is also attractive but decidedly less opinionated, ergo suitors are smitten. Father decrees older sister must marry before younger sister, as anything else would be unseemly. Younger sister’s suitors put heads and coin purses together to pay off a gentleman brave enough to woo (and hopefully marry) older sister; battle-of-the-sexes-style hilarity ensues.

    From 16th-century Padua, Tyler has updated the setting for Vinegar Girl to a modern-day Baltimore suburb. Kate Battista is a 29-year-old preschool assistant who lives at home with her father, Louis, and her 15-year-old sister, Bunny. Kate is no-nonsense, quick-witted, and beautiful, with interests that include gardening and calling things as she sees them. Louis Battista is a research scientist who is brilliant in his lab but hapless in his own home, relying on Kate to take care of the cooking, finances, and anything else that doesn’t involve correlations or genetic testing. Since the girls’ mother passed away when they were young, Kate also bears most of the responsibility for parenting Bunny. At 15, Bunny is many things Kate is not: approachable, earnest, and exceedingly popular with the boys. Most of Kate’s Bunny-related duties involve chasing would-be paramours away and enforcing curfew—while Bunny would just as soon see her take a long vacation.

    Kate’s in a place in life that will be familiar to anyone who didn’t have it all figured out before age 30. She likes her job…sort of. She doesn’t dislike living at home. Yet it’s clear she hasn’t really chosen to end up where she has, it just kind of…happened. She feels unfulfilled and left behind, as though everyone but her got a memo about what they were supposed to do with their lives. Kate is stagnant, doing the same tasks and following the same routine, day after endless day. So, naturally, something (or someone) has to enter the scene and shake things up.

    That someone is Pyotr Scherbakov, a handsome, good-humored research assistant in her father’s lab. At first, Kate can’t figure out why her father is suddenly tripping all over himself to push the two together, especially since she finds Pyotr somewhat boorish and patronizing (even if he can be a little charming sometimes). Then, the update: instead of it being her sister’s scheming suitors trying to push two lovers together, it’s Kate’s own dad, who’s trying to save Pyotr from deportation. All they need is for Kate to agree to a sham marriage. The only problem? Kate’s having none of it. What follows is a story about how two people with big personalities can bring out the worst and the best in one another.

    Although Vinegar Girl keeps the spirit and tone of the bard’s classic tale, Tyler has smartly reshaped it to be more egalitarian than the original. For one, Kate (happily never referred to as a shrew) is the actual focus of the novel—everything is told from her point of view. We feel her hurt at being treated like she’s invisible simply because she has her own mind and refuses to act the way society dictates she should. Conversely, we see through Kate’s eyes the way men struggle to live up to society’s expectations of rigid masculinity, even when they’re desperate to show their true emotions. Also, the sisterly relationship between Kate and Bunny gets a good deal more attention than that of The Taming of the Shrew’s Katherina and Bianca. The result is a loosening of the stereotyping of both, as seen through their and the reader’s eyes.

    With its combination of Shakespeare’s classic plot and Tyler’s easy, fluid style, audiences are treated to a lively, fun reimagining of a timeless tale. Vinegar Girl reminds us that, while most flies might prefer honey, some can’t seem to resist a little vinegar.

  • Whitney Collins 7:36 pm on 2015/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , cultured cocktails, drinks, , william shakespeare   

    5 Reasons to Drink Down Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas 

    Shakespeare Not StirredCalling all bards, barflies, bookworms, and any and all who enjoy bursting out in uncontrollable laughter: Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas was penned with you in mind. Authored by Caroline Bicks, Ph.D, and Michelle Ephraim, Ph.D—both Shakespeare professors and humor writers—this literary delight serves up hilarious recipes for Bard of Avon–inspired drinks and appetizers, as well as plenty of trivia and illustrations guaranteed to put you under the influence of England’s national poet. Here are five reasons to drink down this uproarious read.

    The chapters
    Had a rough day? Going through a tough time? Never fear, Shakespeare, Not Stirred has a cocktail for that. In fact, each chapter has its own clever theme for whatever ails you, be it comedy or tragedy, from “Now Is the Whiskey of Our Discontent: Drinks for the Domestically Distressed” to “Shall I Campari to a Summer’s Day?: Romantic Occasions.” My personal favorite? “Get Thee to a Winery: Girls’ Night Out.”

    The illustrations
    Within, classic images from the Folger Shakespearean Library have been outrageously doctored (with libations) to feature all of the Bard’s bawdy crew in various states of intoxication: gallivanting with tumblers, tiptoeing over red Solo cups, passed out next to bowls of guacamole, or even staggering home on that long Walk of Shame dragging a sword and gimlet.

    The beverages
    One might fear that a cocktail book written by Shakespeare aficionados could be heavy on the literary and light on the liquor, but rest assured, the drinks featured here are top shelf. Not only are they as clever as Cleopatra (“Et Tu Brut Champagne Cocktail,” “Juliet’s Emoji-to,” “Caliban’s Wrong Island Iced Tea,” and “Kate’s Shrew Driver” to name a few), they are downright delicious. Who could resist “Antony’s Fuzzy Naval,” concocted of lemon, sea salt, peach nectar, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and prosecco? That’s certainly no shot of hemlock.

    The snacks
    Bicks and Ephraim know that any night (midsummer or otherwise) of drinking must include some sustenance, so here they definitely deliver (just not pizza). Alongside the cocktail recipes are delicious snack recipes, aptly called “Savory Matters.” These are not your average soggy bar nachos. These are fine garden party–worthy hors d’oeuvres with laugh-out-loud names, like “Bertram’s Crushed Nuts,” “Hero’s Pity Påté,” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s Brown-Noser Steak Bites.”

    The trivia
    Literary lovers rejoice: in addition to all the food and fun, there are also sectionsthroughout that fall under the witty heading “Mini Bard.” These little sidebars (pun intended) serve up Shakespearean facts and commentary sure to leave you thirsty for more. From insight into Ophelia’s drowning to questions over whether Shakespeare did or didn’t write Titus Andronicus, these savory tidbits are fun to peruse while you’re punch-drunk on the Bard.

  • Kelly Anderson 5:00 pm on 2015/06/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , william shakespeare   

    For Your Next Cocktail Party: A Crib Sheet of Classic Literary References 

    I love hanging out with book nerds, for many reasons. One of them is feeling like I’m part of an elite club, one with secret handshakes and passwords and everything. (Remember before Game of Thrones became a TV show, when the “Red Wedding” was a nerd password?) But sometimes, even we’ve missed a few passwords along the way, and can feel left out in the cold when our fellow book nerds drop references they assume we’ll catch. We find ourselves smiling and nodding along, the door to our lovely club closed.To ensure this never happens to you, here’s a list of the top 10 literary references to prove your book nerd mettle (or, you know, allow you to have a richer literary experience, or lead you to reading some awesome books or something).

    1. The madeleine (from Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust)
    If there is a quintessential reference that marks you as a “literary person,” it’s knowing what someone means when they say, “It was my own madeleine moment.” In case you haven’t yet tackled the Mount Everest of reading, here’s what that’s all about. In Search of Lost Time is a seven-volume mega-novel tracking its protagonist through his youth into middle age. In our narrator’s telling, time and memory are blurred together as one, an ever circling mark, reaching back into the past as often as it reaches forward. The most famous moment comes fairly early in the first volume, Swann’s Way. The narrator bites into a madeleine, setting off on one of the novel’s first deep dives into the past, instantly transporting the reader to his childhood family home, with every last detail of the room as clear as day. The madeleine is a famous example of sense memory, nostalgia, and the irresistible power of the past.

    2. The Green Light (from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
    There are a lot of famous symbols in this tale of American decadence, nostalgia, and yearning in the Jazz Age, from East Egg, to Daisy, to those creepy eyes your teacher insisted every last one of us write an essay on, but the green light is the most famous of them all. Throughout the book, Daisy, Gatsby’s lost love, is representative of the ultimate attainment of everything his life can offer: the American dream. We witness his increasingly piteous attempts to convince himself he can re-create a vanished, never-really-was past with her, all of which crash and burn fairly quickly. The green light, which stands at the end of her dock, is a forlorn symbol of all of Gatsby’s doomed hopes, something always on the horizon and never quite reached, something he forever travels toward, “boats against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the past.”

    3. The Wife in the Attic (from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë)
    Look, if there’s any way I can get anyone else to fall in love with this tale of a brave girl, with no resources or family to speak of, who nonetheless makes a career out of doing the right thing every single time…I’m gonna do it. But more than that, the book is a goldmine of useful literary references—none more so than the specter of the wife in the attic, the haunting figure whose chilling laugh and nighttime wanderings build tension, and the bombshell who kicks off the book’s powerful third act. However horrifying a figure she is, a reference to her is generally much more likely to be pointing to frustrated female desire, sexuality, or energy, especially as seen through an uncomprehending male gaze and in the corset of 19th-century society. If we’re talking about poor Bertha, the least we can do these days is find solidarity with a woman whose very existence was too threatening to be mentioned.

    4. Shakespeare’s Sister (from A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf)
    Maybe you like the band, maybe you’re a fan of the song, but chances are this isn’t the first time you’re hearing this phrase. But where does it come from? Virginia Woolf took the attic wife metaphor farther, giving the trope her own sober-eyed, equally incisive spin. In her masterpiece of an essay, A Room of One’s Own (itself a reference you should probably also know—and read—as soon as possible), Woolf posited the existence of Shakespeare’s sister, a woman whose talents may have equalled those of the Bard, whose imagination, drive, wit, and talent may have also been on offer to the world, but whose gifts were never discovered because no one bothered to ask. “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” Woolf states, and Shakespeare’s silent sister was Exhibit A.

    5. “Ew! Ew! Cannot unsee! I want to pull an Oedipus!” (from Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles)
    You might not think that references to a play published thousands of years ago would still be making the rounds at the literary hors d’eouvres table, but here we are. This one’s used as a punchline as often as anything, but it’s as worth getting the joke as it is being involved in whatever Freudian deconstruction of the latest New Great American Novel contender is underway. Oedipus Rex is your classic tale of parent incest and murder: Oedipus, King of Thebes, discovers he is the source of a curse placed upon his land when, unbeknownst to him, he killed his father and married his mother, fulfilling a prophecy that he would be “son and husband to his mother and brother and father to his own children.” When he comes into possession of this delightful information, Oedipus does what most of us might: he immediately puts out his own eyes with his mother/wife’s hairpins, and wanders lost for eternity. Soooo, all in all, a nice, wholesome family show.

    6. “STELLAAAAA!” (from A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennesee Williams)
    This one is much more Brando in origin than it is literary, but Tennessee Williams gave Brando the platform, so I think the bookish folks can still take credit for it. It comes from A Streetcar Named Desire, arguably Williams’ most famous play, centered on one of the saddest entangled trios that ever there was, married couple Stella and Stanley and Stella’s glamorous, down-on-her-luck sister, Blanche DuBois. These three, along with sundry hapless others along for the unfortunate ride, proceed to tear each other apart. At one point, the proceedings reach such a low point Stanley finds himself screaming for his wife to come back to him. While the moment feels sincere when you’re sitting there with the house lights down, wrapped up in a thick blanket of emotion, it’s now become an easily mocked signifier that someone is being a weeee bit melodramatic, usually in the context of a (probably rightfully) disintegrating relationship.

    7. “A plague on both your houses!” (from Romeo & Juliet, by William Shakespeare)
    This one comes from Romeo and Juliet, home of, oh, about a thousand other references I could have named. This, as most of us know, is the tale of a pair of star-crossed lovers from quarreling families who must conduct their romance in secret, and who meet an inevitably doomed end (well, it must have been inevitable, what with the timing on that just-seems-like-you’re-dead poison, right?). What’s less often mentioned is the collateral damage of their passion—namely the friends and family who go down defending what they think is family honor in the face of this romance. Mercutio, the most heartbreaking casualty, dies defending his friend Romeo. Amid the laughter of those who have never taken him near seriously enough, he finally cracks his jokester facade to let everyone involved know his opinion of the senseless bloodshed. Which is how it is generally used now: as a shorthand for endlessly, pointlessly squabbling parties who just can’t seem to get it together.

    8. Tilting at windmills (from Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes)
    This reference comes to us via Spain’s national work, the story of an old man who has convinced himself that he is a knight errant, bent on defeating villains and saving damsels in distress. He sets out on a quest to rid the world of evil, accompanied only by his faithful “squire” Sancho Panza. This book is rife with the ironic symbology of his darkly comic journey that we know to be doomed at the outset. In one particularly famous episode, our supposed knight spots a group of windmills that he convinces himself are giants, and proceeds to haplessly attack them. It’s generally used to refer to someone trying to accomplish a hopeless, if idealistic task that is unlikely to produce the desired result. Just like the don, you’ll be tilting in a circle uselessly, forever, if you continue. There is a sort of admirable beauty to it, but of the sort that comes to us via the tradition of the Fool, not the Hero.

    9. “The book was rather Dickensian….” (Charles Dickens, generally)
    Ah, yes. Now we’re getting into the part where literary folks contribute their own vocabulary. There are a legion of these shorthands. Some are infamously overused, and often considered pretentious (try to deploy the term “Kafkaesque” in conversation and see how fast your couch miraculously empties). But this is a pretty stolid classic that’s stood the test of time, and is too common to get you regaled to the snooty corner. The term “Dickensian” tends to be used to denote the atmosphere of a book: a richly described, likely urban and layered milieu reminiscent of Victorian England. It’s likely filled with social injustice and dark corners, woven into the sort of pervasive class system that defined English society at the time. It is epitomized in books like Oliver Twist and Bleak House, books with both entertainment and a social message at their cores. Remember that part in a Muppet Christmas Carol where everybody in the streets is singing about how mean Scrooge is? Yup. It’s like that. But with no puppets and singing. More workhouses though.

    10. “The dog recognizes me.” (from Homer’s The Odyssey)
    You’ve seen this one in a thousand movies, read it in a hundred romance novels: the hero returns from war a changed man. He leaves a young skinny boy, and returns a grizzled battle veteran nearly 10 years later, walking in off the road to a family that no longer recognizes him. But someone does—and it’s usually the dog. The idea that animals see essential truths long before humans do is a old one—in this case, one of the oldest, dating right back to Homer’s The Odyssey. When the wandering hero Odysseus makes his way home after the fall of Troy, he encounters many obstacles that delay his journey (many of them famous references in their own right). He finally arrives incognito, disguised as a beggar, in order to get the lay of the land, and no one recognizes him. Except the dog. A reference to Odysseus and his faithful hound is a reference to this famous moment.

    What essential literary references have we left out?
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