Welcome to City Lights

“Welcome to City Lights. A literary meeting place since 1953.” So reads the hand-painted sign hung high on the wall in one of the many book-filled rooms in City Lights Bookstore, the famed San Francisco institution. I recently made a pilgrimage of sorts to this literary hub, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin in […]

Five Books That Can Help Us Find Hope

There’s no doubt that it is a dark and divided moment in American society—one that both echoes some of our darkest prior periods and presents its own unique and evolving challenges. In such a moment, literature can feel like at best an irrelevant luxury, and at worst a distraction from the collective work we should […]

Siri Hustvedt and Atul Gawande: When Science Meets Art in Literature

We’re all amazed by people who have skills we don’t. It’s part of the magic of watching the Olympics: seeing people with the same number of arms and legs as the rest of us, the same amount of hours in the day, perform incredible feats of strength and speed. I get the same feeling of […]

American Writer Spotlight: Catherine Pierce

Have you heard of Catherine Pierce? No? Well, you’re in for a treat! She is truly an extraordinary poet, and one of my personal favorites. If you need some convincing, I have plenty in store with this post. From her wonderful collections to the many reasons why I think her poetry is lovely, you’ll walk […]


The do-it-yourself mentality is thriving. Websites like Pinterest offer everyday people the chance to create something all by themselves; from cute snacks and decorations for parties to necessary home improvements after that party. But what about that ambitious novel you’ve almost completed? Writers have stories inside them, which they turn into coherent words and sentences […]

Follow the Classics with these Books by Women Writers

A couple years ago, I challenged myself to go a whole year reading only women authors. I wasn’t one hundred percent successful, but the main thing that surprised me during that time was that the whole challenge was pretty easy. Writing by women is obviously just as diverse and interesting as writing by men. Therefore, […]

American Literary Playlists – Part 3

The creative processes of literary writing and songwriting have always been intertwined. Musicians such as Bob Dylan and Patti Smith have successfully crossed over into the literary realm, winning awards and critical praise for their poetry and autobiographies. Likewise, many famous American writers have expressed musical leanings: both Jack Kerouac and Maya Angelou recorded albums; […]

Created Worlds, Part 2

For the writer of mainstream fiction, creating detailed origins for the people and places in the story is an option. For the writer of genre fiction it’s practically a necessity. There are countless series of science fiction or fantasy novels set in mythic worlds with richly imagined futures. What stands out among them are instances […]