The theme at the core of Rowling’s wizarding world speaks directly to a universal human reality: The struggle to come to terms with our mortality.
We may think of _Harry Potter_ as escapist delight, but J.K. Rowling’s books also contain an extended theme that has more in common with _King Lear_ than most English professors might care to admit.
Science fiction has a more important job to do – it allows us to see ourselves in a new light.
Even common knowledge isn’t immune.
Reading something that sows doubt about a widely agreed-upon fact – even the election of George Washington as president – can have a profound effect.
A connection can be made in between Ursula Le Guin’s fiction and her father’s groundbreaking work in anthropology.
Oregon State University
Le Guin's father, Alfred Kroeber, was at a forefront of a movement that rejected social Darwinism and cultural superiority. In his daughter's fiction, we see these ideas come to life.
Christina Ricci as Zelda and David Hoflin as F. Scott in the TV series Z: The Beginning of Everything (2015). Two films about Zelda’s life are currently underway, starring Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence respectively.
Amazon Studios, Killer Films, Picrow
During her lifetime, Zelda Fitzgerald's creativity and contribution to her husband's work were woefully undervalued. Two new films will tell her story.
Rebecca Watts, Rupi Kaur, Kate Tempest – the world of poetry is up in arms again. Here's why.
North Korean women work at the cashier table of a bookstore in Pyongyang, North Korea.
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
The state-produced stories, which include tales about apartment lotteries, theme parks and the Clintons, might seem absurd. But they offer a window into the regime's priorities and anxieties.
The frontispiece to the 1831 Frankenstein by Theodor von Holst, one of the first two illustrations for the novel.
Tate Britain. Private collection, Bath.
On its 200th anniversary, why is it a surprise that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at such a young age – just because she's a woman?
An illustration from a 1914 edition of Anna Karenina.
Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is often acclaimed as the best novel ever written. The enthralling narrative explores love and family through intertwining plot lines, with Anna and her desire at the centre.
Our obsession with gut health, diet and well-being is far from new: the Victorians had very similar concerns.
Tackling tough topics from racism and bullying to Indigenous identity and the holocaust, young adult fiction can challenge stereotypes and encourage critical thinking. Pictured here, an illustration from ‘Skim’ by Mariko Tamaki, the fictional diary of a depressed Japanese-Canadian girl.
Five novels for young adults that boldly tackle tough issues - from racism, to Indigenous identity and the Holocaust - to cultivate critical thinking in the classroom and at home.
First letter and illustration from Father Christmas, 1920.
© The Tolkien Estate Ltd, 1976.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote letters to his children from Father Christmas every year for 23 years. And they're filled with elves, goblins and playful polar bears.
Kristen Roupenian's Cat Person short story in the New Yorker about the perils of dating in the digital world is flawed – and brilliant as a result.
Reading fiction can make you happier, nicer towards others and better focused in your activities.
To counter the unbalanced effects of the digital age, reading literature is the key.
For decades, novels have implored readers to look beyond the glamour and riches.
In their novels, Nathanael West and Bret Easton Ellis depict a world few want to admit exists, a place where 'Unless you're willing to do some pretty awful things, it's hard getting a job.'
John Fekner’s art warned others of toxins poisoning the planet.
Fekner at English Wikipedia
Diet books aren't just fluff. They offer a powerful insight into who Americans are – and how we wish the world could be.
Ernest Hemingway with a bull near Pamplona, Spain in 1927, two years before ‘A Farewell to Arms’ would be published.
Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
A newly published batch of Ernest Hemingway’s letters could change the way we think about the author's influences, relationships with other writers and views on race.
BBC Blue Planet
It seems almost inevitable that deep sea mining will open a new and substantial chapter of humanity’s relationship with the oceans.
Both systems are dangerous in the wrong hands.
Virgil reads the Aeneid to Octavia and Augustus.
Angelica Kauffmann/Hermitage/Wikimedia Commons
Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid documents the founding of Rome by a Trojan hero. As with other ancient epics, our hero has to remain resolute in the face of significant divine hostility.