Category: Non-Fiction

The Courtney Love of Letters has Passed Away

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation has died at the age of 52 of metastatic breast cancer.



Image via LA Times

Wurtzel wrote more than several influential books, but was known for her book Prozac Nation as it opened up a dialogue about depression that changed America. Wurtzel was very open about her struggles with mental illness. The book was eventually turned into a film in 2001 starring Christina Ricci. She was also known for her forward-thinking culture critiques and somewhat inflammatory opinions, as well as her strong feminist belief system. She was dubbed, “the Courtney Love of letters.”


image via the New York Times


She did far more than outrage people, especially with her second book, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women; her words and writing style were suffused with a new kind of writing technique a la Sylvia Plath but in prose, a sort of confessional memoir panache where she talked about her very personal experiences while educating the reader on a woman’s value in society.



In her last book, More, Now, Again, she chronicled her struggles with substance abuse. She finally got clean and ended up going to Yale law school where she graduated and worked for Boies, Schiller & Flexner for more than several years. She left in 2012, to devote more time to writing. In 2015, she married James Freed Jr. on the roof of a loft in Soho. It was around this time she commenced treatment for stage two breast cancer.

She leaves behind a husband and a mother, not to mention a whole new generation of readers where she will no doubt strike a chord.


Featured Images via Cnn/Amazon


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Literary Icons We Lost in the Last Decade

The 2010’s have been a notable decade for literature lovers. Starting with big corporate bookstores going out of business and making room for the indie bookstores, we also saw the rise of audio-books, as well as platform being given to strong female protagonists with books like, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl , The Girl on the Train and so on. But in the past ten years we’ve also lost a number of prolific icons from the literary world and here are some of those authors and poets who have touched our lives with their iconic works, which will continue to influence us and the generations to come.

J D Salinger

Image Via Independent

We’ve all read his famous book in high school, The Catcher in the Rye, which is a fantastic piece of work tackling many pressing issues such as identity, loss, and sex. Salinger also exhibits relentless talent in his short stories, such as in A Perfect Day for Banana Fish. The writer lived until the long age of 91, and breathed his last on January 27, 2010.



Maurice Sendak

Image Via PBS

Even if you can’t immediately recognize this talented author by his name, I’m certain we are all familiar with his famous book, Where The Wild Things Are, which is a celebrated children’s picture book, teaching kids about imagination, independence and overcoming fear. The author/illustrator left us on the 8th of May in 2012.


V.s naipaul

Image Via BBC

Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winner, V. S Naipaul left the world on 11th August, 2018. His book In a Free State won him the Booker Prize and he was also awarded the Trinity Cross in 1990, and was also made a Knight Bachelor in 1990.



maya angelou

Image Via Read it Forward

It was a tragic day when the world lost literary legend Maya Angelou. Not only was she a prolific, talented poet, singer and memoirist, she was also a famous civil rights activist, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Her book of poems, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie won the Pulitzer Prize and her autobiographical book, I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing, garnered much critical acclaims and went on to be made into a TV movie with the same name in April 1979. Her departure was a great loss for the entire world, but her legacy will continue to live on within her works.


stan lee

Image Via Esquire

On November 12, 2018, we bid farewell to the creator of The Amazing Spider-man, X-Men and all the other Marvel heroes who continue to dominate our lives since we were children. This man’s legacy cannot be put in words, as movies after movies continue to wow us with the foundations Stan Lee had built during his long standing career. When he passed at the ripe age of 95, it was when we thanked our stars for being born during his era, to enjoy the fruits of his creativity.



william goldman

Image Via Consequence

This remarkable American novelist, playwright and screenwriter left us on November 16, 2018. By the end of his career, William Goldman had received his first Academy Award for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and another for All the President’s Men. He also won two Edgar Awards, and was eventually given the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement in 1985. But perhaps his most notable work is The Princess Bride, the popular fantasy-romance novel which came out in 1973, and was adapted into a movie of the same name in 1987.



fred bass

Image Via New York Post

While not everyone recognizes Fred Bass without a quick Google search, but be sure to know that this man has changed the lives of millions with his contribution to the book industry. Bass left us on January 3, 2018, but he made sure to leave the world a little more educated and tons more curious, with his creation of The Strand Bookstore in New York City. As one of the most popular bookstores in the world, with its eighteen miles of books, Strand has not just become a common household name for New Yorkers, but has won hearts of people all from over the world, all thanks to this kind and intelligent soul.


anthony bourdain

Image Via Robb Report

Although we mostly know Anthony Bourdain from his popular TV shows and his celebrity chef status, but we can’t forget that he first emerged as a writer in the late 90’s when his column came out in The New Yorker, Don’t Eat Before Reading This. This later resulted in Bourdain’s first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, followed by his second, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, which was published in 2010. His demise was certainly a tragic one, leaving his fans in utter pain and disbelief, but his perception regarding the exploration of international cuisine, culture and human conditions has taught us all a few great things about not being scared of the unknown.



harper lee

Image Via ABC

To Kill a Mockingbird is an American Classic, and Harper Lee was a legend for the creation of such an impactful book during a time of turmoil and distress in the Americas. Her revolutionary vision, through the eyes of the young protagonist of her book, is evident and speaks volumes about her life as a child growing up during the Great Depression in the South, exploring topics such as regionalism as well as racism. The book has garnered her several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, as well as awarding her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, which was very well deserved. The world lost a power-house figure on February 19, 2016.



ursala k le guin

Image Via Syfy Wire

Ursala K Le Guin had written over twenty novels and one hundred short stories, spanning a literary career for almost sixty years before her passing on January 22, 2018. She had won eight Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards, making her one of the most influential Science Fiction writers of our time, and that too as a woman, considering that science has always been a supposed male dominated field. Legends like her give us hopes to break barriers and march on.


toni morrison

Image Via Newsday

The beloved Toni Morrison, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Beloved, left a gaping hole in the literary world as she left us on August 5, 2019. She gained further recognition as she won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. She was also the first African American female editor at Random House in New York in the 1960’s. During her lifetime, she has inspired many people of all color to break free of stereotypes and to live their truth, whatever that may be. Her writing is so influential that her fan base continues to grow since her departure. Her writing has been critiqued by notable editors and writers alike and to this day, it is praised for its daring narrative. If there should be a legendary writer, Toni Morrison is deserving of that title.


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Ram Dass: Pioneer of Mindfulness… and LSD

Ram Dass AKA Richard Alpert 1931-2019

Image via NPR

Richard Alpert was given the named Ram Dass (meaning ‘servant of God’) by  a Hindu mystic and played a critical role in laying out information in regards to meditation, mindfulness, and overall mind health to mainstream Americans. Originally born in Massachusetts to a Jewish family, Ram was inspired by a Hindu guru and created his practice around principals of consciousness, devotion, karma, yoga and Zen Buddhism. He earned a degree in Psychology and was a well-respected professor in his field. He explored Hinduism in India and psychedelics at Harvard which help him craft his version of spirituality. He paved the way for what we know today as mindfulness. Mindfulness is the radical notion of being present, aware and conscious in the moment.



His most notable written work was published in 1971, Be Here Now  and addresses much of his middle class, white man life and then leads into his experimentation with psychedelic drugs, more specifically LSD. Bill Gates is among the millions that have read and cited this book as inspirational. Ram Dass was behind a myriad projects, and accomplishments, but most notably helped create The Living/Dying Project that supported folks to die consciously. After receiving some cult like feedback, he ditched the beads,  robes and beard for his more typical Boston look. Through podcasts, youtube videos, talks and his writing, he was able to promote meditation, mental health awareness and mindfulness.

What Americans need in a time of antidepressants and overall misery. Read Be Here Now.

School districts are redesigning themselves to bring mindfulness into classrooms and in some instances are focusing on trauma informed care as a way of packaging academics in a more digestible way. Because ultimately students are too anxious to learn and adult are too depressed to teach. We are starting to recognize how important our mental health is and how affected we are becoming from neglecting that truth. Social media may be a big factor in both recognizes this and being more depressed but either way folks are getting into understanding their own happiness and mental state.



Featured image VIA

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Tune In to One of These Four Literary Podcasts

Podcasts are a form of oral storytelling which is why they have become so popular. Everyone loves stories, loves to hear something inspiring. Here are four literary podcasts that you can listen to and we hope at least one of them will, yes, inspire you.



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4. Food 4 Thot

This is a podcast that describes itself as a “multiracial mix of queer writers who talk about sex, identity, culture, what we like to read, and who we like to read.” What they don’t describe is how they do it. Raucously. There seems to always be an audience in the background laughing, clapping, or in perpetual shock and awe. Before they get into books, they play games like “to tweet or not to tweet,” and give an entertainment news briefing. In the most recent podcast, host Tommy Pico read an excerpt from his fourth book, a collection of poems entitled, Feed. It’s a very honest poem, and this podcast isn’t for the shy or faint of heart, but I do suggest you tune in and see if you like it.


image via

3-Black Chick Lit

Also known as “reader life from the POV of two WOC.” It’s a podcast hosted by two women named Mollie and Danielle. Though they do not live in the same city, they manage to make the podcast work. One thing they love: genre fiction. I know this because one of their latest episodes was dedicated to N.K Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, of the fantasy genre. The two discuss the book’s gender politics, its more subversive moments, the authors’ bravery in writing the series, and so much more with rich intellectual curiosity. I definitely would recommend this podcast to anyone who loves listening to two smart women engage and enjoy each other’s company.




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2- Literary Disco

Literary Disco is a podcast hosted by Tod Goldberg, a New York Times bestselling author, Julia Pistell, a writer and member of Upright Citizens Brigade, and Rider Strong, also a writer and actor, probably most well-known for his role on the TV show, Boy Meets World. This podcast is great. Why? It’s a mixture of intellectual discussion and light playful banter about books (of course) and they make it fun. For instance, in a more recent podcast, Rider Strong reads an excerpt from an anonymous book, and the other two have to guess the author and title by feeling out the genre, time period, and other elements that make up this book only known by its excerpt. It’s called “Judge a Book by Its Cover.” Get it? Except it should be “Judge a Book by Its Excerpt.” Anyway, they all have a great time, and so will you.


Image VIa NyTimes

1- The Book Review Podcast

The Book Review Podcast at the New York Times gets the top spot because it is the most in-depth, especially the “ten best books ” podcast. In this year’s specific episode, they divulge their process for how they choose each book, which is title by title and not as a whole. They choose five non-fiction and five fiction books, and the editors clarify that the word “best” does not mean what books they loved the most, but which had the highest literary quality. They also save time in the podcast to talk about books that were their own personal favorites. This year the top ten included Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School for fiction and The Club by Leo Damrosch for non-fiction. You have to tune in, even if you haven’t heard of these books. After listening to the podcast, I promise you’ll want to read at least one they’ve mentioned as soon as possible.


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5 Books To Bring Every Sagittarius Adventure

With the change of the seasons comes a change in the Horoscopes. From November 23 and December 21 it’s time for the Sagittarius of the world to shine.

The born adventurers of the Zodiac, Sagittarius are free-spirited, independent, and honest people. With a blend of deep thought, optimism, and intense curiosity, this is the sign that will embark on the greatest of adventures, packing humor and heart in their backpack. Here are some books that will take you on a journey, either in the world, in your mind, or in your spirit; and if you are not born into the sign, but still have an interest in these books, then there may be a little bit of a Sagittarius in you.





5-The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett




Explore the legend and magic of Vlad the Impaler, more widely known as Dracula. Theodora always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps as a treasure hunter, but never had her father’s permission. Now that his life is in danger during the most recent expedition, it is now up to Theodora to leap into action with the help of her father’s protégé, to save her father, uncover the mystery, and live to tell the tale.



4-The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis


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Meet the Good Luck Girls! Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings, they fight to survive and find freedom for themselves in a country that does not want them to. With everything against them, and their situation growing worse and worse every passing moment, these women will stop at nothing to blaze a path to freedom. This action-packed thriller will take you in a whirlwind ride that inspires us all to fight for ourselves and those that we love.



3-The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones




Not all adventures can be so upbeat, but we do what we must when a friend is in danger. This is the pledge that Nate has taken up, to venture into the unknown of the snowy woods to find his long-lost friend Dodge, but dangers and secrets lurk around every corner, and Nate’s innocent trek to finding closure for his trauma and loss may result in his demise.





2-Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty




For the deep thinkers out there, this comical, non-fiction book takes a real look at some morbidly intriguing questions. Author Caitlin Doughty, who is a funeral director by trade, was inspired to write this book thanks to the flood of death-related questions that were tossed her way. Let’s face it, death is everywhere. Up in space, down in the ocean, potentially in your next meal. Death is all around us, and yet, it is such a mystery. So embark on an adventure through the deep and philosophical shower-thought questions that plague us throughout the night!



1-I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest




Young Chloe Pierce dreams of being a ballet dancer, and an opportunity to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams opens up at last. To her dismay, Chloe’s mom forbids her to apply to the nearest audition two hundred miles away. Starry-eyed and eager to follow her dreams, Chloe devises a secret plan to drive herself to the audition. This upbeat, road-trip adventure is a testament to all the dreamers out there. Go where you want to go, be who you want to be!



Images via Goodreads


Featured Image via Labrynthos