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  • We’ve been writing quite a bit about our favorite books from this year, but Brooklyn Magazine is going one step further and listing 2014’s best sentences.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • “Reading fiction is one of my true loves, but essays help me to understand things about the world, the writer, and if they’re really great, myself.” Electric Literature‘s Jason Diamond argues 2014 was “The Year of the Essay,” and when we think over the collections published this year – The Empathy Exams, The Unspeakable and Loitering, among others - it’s hard to disagree.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Recommended Reading: Laura Miller’s argument for writing in books. You could also read Sam Anderson’s marginalia in Dan Brown’s Inferno, as well as his Year in Marginalia from 2010.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • In 1913, four years before the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II made the now-baffling claim that a writer named Teffi was the only major Russian writer. At the time, however, his endorsement made sense, because everybody in Russia, from royalty on down, read Teffi’s work and “delighted” in it. Until the revolution, at which point she was consigned to oblivion. William Grimes writes about a new collection of her stories.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • “Idea #2: Book opens to reveal it is hollow, contains one medium-sized onion. Review: ‘Multilayered… had me in tears.'” How to write a first novel that gets praised in the New York Times.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • It’s easy to find essays targeted at writers that argue that rejection isn’t really that bad. In her new book, How to Not Write, Lisa Carver takes the argument a step further, as she says that not only does rejection not hurt you, it “frees you” and “facilitates action.” At The Rumpus, an excerpt from the book.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Out this week: The Devil in Montmartre by Gary Inbinder; The Emperor of Ice Cream by Dan Gunn; Deeds of Darkness by Edward Marston; and The Cat and the Moon and Other Cat Poems, chosen by the British Library. For more on these and other recent titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview. Support The Millions: Bookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Recommended Reading: Peter Fulham on William Styron’s Darkness Visible.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Most writers, unless they’re lucky enough to have an ideal place in which to work, make do with the best space available. For Colum McCann’s father, the shed in his backyard, which “always smelled damp inside, as if the rain rose up out of the carpet,” sufficed for the fiction he wrote after coming home from work. At Page-Turner, the National Book Award winner and Year in Reading alum remembers his father’s retreat.


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    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • I’ve written before about The Believer‘s “How Writers Read” series, and now the second installment, which includes questions about guilty reading and the constant debate between short and long books, is online.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • “Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make “best of” lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year.” This might help to explain the logic and intent of our own Year in Reading series, but it also prefaces Electric Literature‘s list of the top 25 story collections of 2014 (which includes recent Year in Reading alum Phil Klay‘s Redeployment).


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    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Recommended reading: Lauren Collins writes for The New Yorker about the Oxford University Marginalia group and the fate of bookish scribblings.


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    ~Kaulie Lewis