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Contemporary Central European Literature

Writing from the Lands Between

Central European writers created some of the most distinctive prose and poetry of the 20th centuries. Kafka, Sienkowicz, Kundera, Andrić, Musil, and others masterfully employed irony, gallows humor and the anti-heroic “view from below” in their examinations of modern bureaucracy, ill-treatment by historical forces and the weight of memory. This list provides suggestions for readings from their 21st-century literary heirs (loosely conceived) – writers born in a mutilated world that demands both praise and lament.

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Finding a Flow State

Books to Absorb You

We've likely all looked for it: a way to simultaneously escape ourselves while being as close to our bones as we can be. The whole idea of a "flow state" is predicated on this idea - losing ourselves in a purposeful way. Thoughtful or creative work is the cleanest path to this state, but exposing ourselves to someone else's art also prompts the reader's imagination and cues readers to find what it says about who they are. 

The Catcher in the Rye

We Didn't Start the Fire

Literature Mentioned in Billy Joel's Song

In 1989, musician Billy Joel released, "We Didn't Start the Fire," a song listing some of the most important headlines from his forty years of life up to that point, creating a snapshot of a large portion of the twentieth century.

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Modern Iran

Illuminating Fiction and Non-Fiction

How well is post-Revolution Iran understood in the West? Today this ancient society is known primarily for the activities of its theocratic government. The following collection of ebooks and audiobooks includes two novels, two memoirs and two analyses. Many of the authors selected were either born in Iran or spent several years in the country. My hope is to offer the reader an insider's perspective on this enigmatic land.    

Notes from Undergound

Alone!

Alone!  Alone!  Alone, whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss

Parable of the Sower

Dystopian Pasts, Presents and Futures

The word is scary right now. But honestly, reading about other pandemics and disasters has made me feel a little bit better right now because it could be so even worse! I read The Hot Zone, a book about Ebola, in elementary school and was terrified but re-reading it recently I felt almost comforted that the world isn't completely aflame.

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DC Reads: Adult Title Read-a-likes

More to savor after "With the Fire on High"

This year’s DC Reads book, With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, follows high schooler and teen mom Emoni Santiago through senior year, as she balances school, work, Babygirl -- and figuring out her future.

Girl Woman Other

Tournament of Books 2020

It's back!

I can't believe it's already March and the Tournament of Books is back! I like to read as many books in the tournament every year as I can, so that I've read at least some well-regarded adult fiction.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Bite-Size Classics

Classics with 200 pages or fewer

There are many classics that we are often told we must read in order to be considered “well-read” but it can be difficult to fit them all into our reading life. However, there are many that are much shorter than we may realize and can be read relatively quickly. Here are a few of those classics that come in at around 200 pages or fewer that can be crossed off our to-be-read lists much sooner than others.

One day book cover

Second Chance Romances

Another chance to consider love comes at almost the beginning of every year, after New Year's resolutions are set and as the days are stretching into something brighter as they pass. Valentine's Day is as good a reason as any to watch something romantic and full of possibility and questions. Some romances feel like an answer but some embrace uncertainty and give us the secondhand experience of happenstance and second chances.

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