Monthly Archives: June 2011

The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History

Collected Emily Temple

Sigh. Authors just don’t insult each other like they used to. Sure, Martin Amis raised some eyebrows when he claimed he would need brain damage to write children’s books, and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan made waves when she disparaged the work that someone had plagiarized, but those kinds of accidental, lukewarm zingers are nothing when compared to the sick burns of yore. It stands to reason, of course, that writers would be able to come up with some of the best insults around, given their natural affinity for a certain turn of phrase and all. And it also makes sense that the people they would choose to unleash their verbal battle-axes upon would be each other, since watching someone doing the same thing you’re doing — only badly — is one of the most frustrating feelings we know. So we forgive our dear authors for their spite. Plus, their insults are just so fun to read. Click through for our countdown of the thirty harshest author-on-author burns in history, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites in the comments!

30. Gustave Flaubert on George Sand

“A great cow full of ink.”

29. Robert Louis Stevenson on Walt Whitman

“…like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.”

28. Friedrich Nietzsche on Dante Alighieri

“A hyena that wrote poetry on tombs.”

27. Harold Bloom on J.K. Rowling (2000)

“How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”

26. Vladimir Nabokov on Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Dostoevky’s lack of taste, his monotonous dealings with persons suffering with pre-Freudian complexes, the way he has of wallowing in the tragic misadventures of human dignity — all this is difficult to admire.”

25. Gertrude Stein on Ezra Pound

“A village explainer. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.”

24. Virginia Woolf on Aldous Huxley

“All raw, uncooked, protesting.”

23. H. G. Wells on George Bernard Shaw

“An idiot child screaming in a hospital.”

22. Joseph Conrad on D.H. Lawrence

“Filth. Nothing but obscenities.”

21. Lord Byron on John Keats (1820)

“Here are Johnny Keats’ piss-a-bed poetry, and three novels by God knows whom… No more Keats, I entreat: flay him alive; if some of you don’t I must skin him myself: there is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the Mankin.”

20. Vladimir Nabokov on Joseph Conrad

“I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of romanticist cliches.”

19. Dylan Thomas on Rudyard Kipling

“Mr Kipling … stands for everything in this cankered world which I would wish were otherwise.”

18. Ralph Waldo Emerson on Jane Austen

“Miss Austen’s novels . . . seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer . . . is marriageableness.”

17. Martin Amis on Miguel Cervantes

“Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last (on page 846 — the prose wedged tight, with no breaks for dialogue), you will shed tears all right; not tears of relief or regret but tears of pride. You made it, despite all that ‘Don Quixote’ could do.”

16. Charles Baudelaire on Voltaire (1864)

“I grow bored in France — and the main reason is that everybody here resembles Voltaire…the king of nincompoops, the prince of the superficial, the anti-artist, the spokesman of janitresses, the Father Gigone of the editors of Siecle.”

15. William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

14. Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

13. Gore Vidal on Truman Capote

“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.”

12. Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope

“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

11. Vladimir Nabokov on Ernest Hemingway (1972)

“As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.”

10. Henry James on Edgar Allan Poe (1876)

“An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.”

9. Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac

“That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

8. Elizabeth Bishop on J.D. Salinger

“I HATED [Catcher in the Rye]. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?”

7. D.H. Lawrence on Herman Melville (1923)

“Nobody can be more clownish, more clumsy and sententiously in bad taste, than Herman Melville, even in a great book like ‘Moby Dick’….One wearies of the grand serieux. There’s something false about it. And that’s Melville. Oh dear, when the solemn ass brays! brays! brays!”

6. W. H. Auden on Robert Browning

“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

5. Evelyn Waugh on Marcel Proust (1948)

“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.”

4. Mark Twain on Jane Austen (1898)

“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

3. Virginia Woolf on James Joyce

“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

2. William Faulkner on Mark Twain (1922)

“A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.”

1. D.H. Lawrence on James Joyce (1928)

“My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”

Bonus:I recently found this letter Mr. Rogers wrote to me when I was 6.


Revealed: Top 10 Apple Store Secrets

Written by theweek

With its airy layout, glass staircases, and iHappy atmosphere, the typical Apple Store is a very, very pleasant place. That is, of course, no coincidence. A new Wall Street Journal report uses confidential Apple Store training materials and interviews with former store employees to give a behind-the-scenes look at just how the gadget giant stealthily shapes every customer’s experience. Here, 10 secrets of the Apple Store revealed:

Top 10 Apple Store Secrets

1. It’s not about selling

Several customer service manuals note that employees should focus on solving customers’ problems, not selling them new products. “Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs — some of which they may not even realize they have,” reads one manual. Employees don’t work on commission or have quotas to meet.

2. … unless we’re talking service plans

There may be no quotas, but former employees say selling service plans along with iGadgets is a must. Those who don’t ring up enough service plans are retrained, or given a different job.

3. There’s a cutesy acronym

A 2007 employee training manual lays out the A-P-P-L-E “steps of service” with an acronym of the company name: “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” “Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs,” “Present a solution for the customer to take home today,” “Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns,” and “End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.” It is reportedly still in use today.

4. Steve Jobs is very, very involved

Apple’s CEO is involved in the minute details of the stores, giving input on crucial details, like what kind of security cables tether products to tables.One source recalls visiting Jobs shortly after his liver transplant two years ago, only to find the recovering honcho fussing over blueprints for future Apple stores.

5. The customer is always right (about pronunciations)

One Apple store employee recalls being told that he should never correct a customer who mispronounced the name of a product, lest they feel patronized.

6. Employees get canned for being late

Forget the 15-minute rule, and make sure your watch isn’t behind (or just use your iPhone for the time). Apple employees can be fired for being more than six minutes late three times in a six-month period. Six minutes!

7. And they must stay positive

Genius Bar employees are trained not to use negative language. When they can’t solve a technical issue, they’re told to say, “as it turns out” instead of “unfortunately.” A confidential manual also advises on the specific language to use with “emotional” customers. “Listen and limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. ‘Uh-huh’ ‘I understand,’ etc,” it reads.  “Apple is pretty controlling… to say the least,”says Damon Poeter at PCMag.

8. … and keep quiet

Strange that your friendly Apple employee doesn’t seem to know any of the widely reported rumors about the iPhone 5? It’s probably all just an act. Employees are under strict orders not to discuss rumors about any upcoming products, or prematurely acknowledge widespread technical issues with a current product. Any employee caught writing about Apple is fired.

9. … especially if they’re new

Why isn’t that Apple employee even acknowledging you? He may just be new to the job. While undergoing training, recent hires aren’t allowed to interact with customers. They shadow a more seasoned employee for a few weeks until they’re ready to go their own way. Apple “spends a lot of time and resources on actually training its retail employees,” says Bryan Chaffin at The Mac Observer. That’s “something almost unheard of in the low-margin retail industry.”

10. And about that Genius Bar appointment…

You booked your Genius Bar appointment online, showed up a few minutes before the scheduled time, and somehow you still had to wait an hour to talk with a “Genius.” There’s a reason for that. Wall Street Journalsources say Genius Bar appointments are typically triple booked. No wonder the bar is often swamped.

Read the entire Wall Street Journal article here.


Bonus: This chart has saved my ass more than I care to mention.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Father’s Day

With Father’s Day right around the corner, what better way to celebrate all the great Dads out there than with another awesome holiday infographic about the history of Father’s Day and our spending habits on dear ole Dad. Ever wonder how many Dads are out there in then nation? How many times does the average Dad read to their child each week? How about the popular pick for TV’s most beloved Dad? Which TV Dad do we flip the channel on after collectively rolling our eyes? Check out the Infographic below to find out!

fathersday small 630x3442 Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Fathers Day [Infographic]

via UltimateCoupons

Dear Photograph…

Collected by dearphotograph

Dear Photograph, Grandma loved this beach. Dan Perry

Dear Photograph,

Grandma loved this beach.

Dan Perry


Dear Photograph,Chinatown use to be livelier.@applesundae

Dear Photograph,

Chinatown use to be livelier.



Dear Photograph,  That’s love. @mithical

Dear Photograph,

That’s love.



Dear Photograph,  That stop sign gave me a good excuse to stop cutting the lawn. Tim Freeland

Dear Photograph,

That stop sign gave me a good excuse to stop cutting the lawn.

Tim Freeland


Dear Photograph, I miss that playground.Anonymous  

Dear Photograph,

I miss that playground.



Dear Photograph, I looked good in a tux. @TJ

Dear Photograph,

I looked good in a tux.



Dear Photograph, When will I have this much swag again? tineyluu

Dear Photograph,

When will I have this much swag again?



Dear Photograph, I wonder which parent let us up there?@bedaub 

Dear Photograph,
I wonder which parent let us up there?



Dear Photograph, I’ll always remember the summers in that truck. Anonymous

Dear Photograph,

I’ll always remember the summers in that truck.



Dear Photograph,Now I’m wondering where my cool Mickey Mouse hat is at…@mithical

Dear Photograph,

Now I’m wondering where my cool Mickey Mouse hat is at…


Dear Photograph, Why did I ever get a Sharks jersey? Go Leafs Go. @TJ

Dear Photograph,

Why did I ever get a Sharks jersey? Go Leafs Go.



Dear Photograph, I wish I had as much swag then, as I do now. @landonjonez

Dear Photograph,

I wish I had as much swag then, as I do now.



Dear Photograph, I wish I treated you better when we were in high school. @Sarah_Bernstein

Dear Photograph,

I wish I treated you better when we were in high school.



Looking for submissions. Please email us your photos:

Looking for submissions. Please email us your photos: [email protected]


dear, photograph Bring back that swing. @TJ

dear, photograph

Bring back that swing.



dear, photograph I’m glad I never stayed in between the lines when I was a kid either. @TJ

dear, photograph

I’m glad I never stayed in between the lines when I was a kid either.



Dear Photograph, Thanks for reminding me how easy it was to ice a cake when I was 4.@TJ

Dear Photograph,

Thanks for reminding me how easy it was to ice a cake when I was 4.



Dear Photograph, Why can’t I concentrate this hard anymore? @TJ

Dear Photograph,

Why can’t I concentrate this hard anymore?


The 100 greatest non-fiction books

Collected by guardian

British Museum Reading Room

The greatest non-fiction books live here … the British Museum Reading Room.


The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes (1980)

Hughes charts the story of modern art, from cubism to the avant garde

The Story of Art by Ernst Gombrich (1950)

The most popular art book in history. Gombrich examines the technical and aesthetic problems confronted by artists since the dawn of time

Ways of Seeing by John Berger (1972)

A study of the ways in which we look at art, which changed the terms of a generation’s engagement with visual culture


Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari (1550)

Biography mixes with anecdote in this Florentine-inflected portrait of the painters and sculptors who shaped the Renaissance

The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (1791)

Boswell draws on his journals to create an affectionate portrait of the great lexicographer

The Diaries of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys (1825)

“Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health,” begins this extraordinarily vivid diary of the Restoration period

Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey (1918)

Strachey set the template for modern biography, with this witty and irreverent account of four Victorian heroes

Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves (1929)

Graves’ autobiography tells the story of his childhood and the early years of his marriage, but the core of the book is his account of the brutalities and banalities of the first world war

The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein (1933)

Stein’s groundbreaking biography, written in the guise of an autobiography, of her lover


Notes on Camp by Susan Sontag (1964)

Sontag’s proposition that the modern sensibility has been shaped by Jewish ethics and homosexual aesthetics

Mythologies by Roland Barthes (1972)

Barthes gets under the surface of the meanings of the things which surround us in these witty studies of contemporary myth-making

Orientalism by Edward Said (1978)

Said argues that romanticised western representations of Arab culture are political and condescending


Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

This account of the effects of pesticides on the environment launched the environmental movement in the US

The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock (1979)

Lovelock’s argument that once life is established on a planet, it engineers conditions for its continued survival, revolutionised our perception of our place in the scheme of things


The Histories by Herodotus (c400 BC)

History begins with Herodotus’s account of the Greco-Persian war

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1776)

The first modern historian of the Roman Empire went back to ancient sources to argue that moral decay made downfall inevitable

The History of England by Thomas Babington Macaulay (1848)

A landmark study from the pre-eminent Whig historian

Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt (1963)

Arendt’s reports on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, and explores the psychological and sociological mechanisms of the Holocaust

The Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson (1963)

Thompson turned history on its head by focusing on the political agency of the people, whom most historians had treated as anonymous masses

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (1970)

A moving account of the treatment of Native Americans by the US government

Hard Times: an Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel (1970)

Terkel weaves oral accounts of the Great Depression into a powerful tapestry

Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapu?ci?ski (1982)

The great Polish reporter tells the story of the last Shah of Iran

The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991 by Eric Hobsbawm (1994)

Hobsbawm charts the failure of capitalists and communists alike in this account of the 20th century

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Familes by Philip Gourevitch (1999)

Gourevitch captures the terror of the Rwandan massacre, and the failures of the international community

Postwar by Tony Judt (2005)

A magisterial account of the grand sweep of European history since 1945


The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm (1990)

An examination of the moral dilemmas at the heart of the journalist’s trade

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968)

The man in the white suit follows Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters as they drive across the US in a haze of LSD

Dispatches by Michael Herr (1977)

A vivid account of Herr’s experiences of the Vietnam war


The Lives of the Poets by Samuel Johnson (1781)

Biographical and critical studies of 18th-century poets, which cast a sceptical eye on their lives and works

An Image of Africa by Chinua Achebe (1975)

Achebe challenges western cultural imperialism in his argument that Heart of Darkness is a racist novel, which deprives its African characters of humanity

The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim (1976)

Bettelheim argues that the darkness of fairy tales offers a means for children to grapple with their fears


Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter (1979)

A whimsical meditation on music, mind and mathematics that explores formal complexity and self-reference


Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1782)

Rousseau establishes the template for modern autobiography with this intimate account of his own life

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass (1845)

This vivid first person account was one of the first times the voice of the slave was heard in mainstream society

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde (1905)

Imprisoned in Reading Gaol, Wilde tells the story of his affair with Alfred Douglas and his spiritual development

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence (1922)

A dashing account of Lawrence’s exploits during the revolt against the Ottoman empire

The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi (1927)

A classic of the confessional genre, Gandhi recounts early struggles and his passionate quest for self-knowledge

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell (1938)

Orwell’s clear-eyed account of his experiences in Spain offers a portrait of confusion and betrayal during the civil war

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)

Published by her father after the war, this account of the family’s hidden life helped to shape the post-war narrative of the Holocaust

Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov (1951)

Nabokov reflects on his life before moving to the US in 1940

The Man Died by Wole Soyinka (1971)

A powerful autobiographical account of Soyinka’s experiences in prison during the Nigerian civil war

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi (1975)

A vision of the author’s life, including his life in the concentration camps, as seen through the kaleidoscope of chemistry

Bad Blood by Lorna Sage (2000)

Sage demolishes the fantasy of family as she tells how her relatives passed rage, grief and frustrated desire down the generations


The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (1899)

Freud’s argument that our experiences while dreaming hold the key to our psychological lives launched the discipline of psychoanalysis and transformed western culture


The Romantic Generation by Charles Rosen (1998)

Rosen examines how 19th-century composers extended the boundaries of music, and their engagement with literature, landscape and the divine


The Symposium by Plato (c380 BC)

A lively dinner-party debate on the nature of love

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (c180)

A series of personal reflections, advocating the preservation of calm in the face of conflict, and the cultivation of a cosmic perspective

Essays by Michel de Montaigne (1580)

Montaigne’s wise, amusing examination of himself, and of human nature, launched the essay as a literary form

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (1621)

Burton examines all human culture through the lens of melancholy

Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes (1641)

Doubting everything but his own existence, Descartes tries to construct God and the universe

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion by David Hume (1779)

Hume puts his faith to the test with a conversation examining arguments for the existence of God

Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant (1781)

If western philosophy is merely a footnote to Plato, then Kant’s attempt to unite reason with experience provides many of the subject headings

Phenomenology of Mind by GWF Hegel (1807)

Hegel takes the reader through the evolution of consciousness

Walden by HD Thoreau (1854)

An account of two years spent living in a log cabin, which examines ideas of independence and society

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)

Mill argues that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others”

Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche (1883)

The invalid Nietzsche proclaims the death of God and the triumph of the Ubermensch

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (1962)

A revolutionary theory about the nature of scientific progress


The Art of War by Sun Tzu (c500 BC)

A study of warfare that stresses the importance of positioning and the ability to react to changing circumstances

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)

Machiavelli injects realism into the study of power, arguing that rulers should be prepared to abandon virtue to defend stability

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (1651)

Hobbes makes the case for absolute power, to prevent life from being “nasty, brutish and short”

The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (1791)

A hugely influential defence of the French revolution, which points out the illegitimacy of governments that do not defend the rights of citizens

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)

Wollstonecraft argues that women should be afforded an education in order that they might contribute to society

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848)

An analysis of society and politics in terms of class struggle, which launched a movement with the ringing declaration that “proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains”

The Souls of Black Folk by WEB DuBois (1903)

A series of essays makes the case for equality in the American south

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)

De Beauvoir examines what it means to be a woman, and how female identity has been defined with reference to men throughout history

The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon (1961)

An exploration of the psychological impact of colonialisation

The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan (1967)

This bestselling graphic popularisation of McLuhan’s ideas about technology and culture was cocreated with Quentin Fiore

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)

Greer argues that male society represses the sexuality of women

Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman (1988)

Chomsky argues that corporate media present a distorted picture of the world, so as to maximise their profits

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky (2008)

A vibrant first history of the ongoing social media revolution


The Golden Bough by James George Frazer (1890)

An attempt to identify the shared elements of the world’s religions, which suggests that they originate from fertility cults

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902)

James argues that the value of religions should not be measured in terms of their origin or empirical accuracy


On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)

Darwin’s account of the evolution of species by natural selection transformed biology and our place in the universe

The Character of Physical Law by Richard Feynmann (1965)

An elegant exploration of physical theories from one of the 20th century’s greatest theoreticians

The Double Helix by James Watson (1968)

James Watson’s personal account of how he and Francis Crick cracked the structure of DNA

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (1976)

Dawkins launches a revolution in biology with the suggestion that evolution is best seen from the perspective of the gene, rather than the organism

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988)

A book owned by 10 million people, if understood by fewer, Hawking’s account of the origins of the universe became a publishing sensation


The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pisan (1405)

A defence of womankind in the form of an ideal city, populated by famous women from throughout history

Praise of Folly by Erasmus (1511)

This satirical encomium to the foolishness of man helped spark the Reformation with its skewering of abuses and corruption in the Catholic church

Letters Concerning the English Nation by Voltaire (1734)

Voltaire turns his keen eye on English society, comparing it affectionately with life on the other side of the English channel

Suicide by Émile Durkheim (1897)

An investigation into protestant and catholic culture, which argues that the less vigilant social control within catholic societies lowers the rate of suicide

Economy and Society by Max Weber (1922)

A thorough analysis of political, economic and religious mechanisms in modern society, which established the template for modern sociology

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)

Woolf’s extended essay argues for both a literal and metaphorical space for women writers within a male-dominated literary tradition

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans (1941)

Evans’s images and Agee’s words paint a stark picture of life among sharecroppers in the US South

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)

An exploration of the unhappiness felt by many housewives in the 1950s and 1960s, despite material comfort and stable family lives

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)

A novelistic account of a brutal murder in Kansas city, which propelled Capote to fame and fortune

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (1968)

Didion evokes life in 1960s California in a series of sparkling essays

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1973)

This analysis of incarceration in the Soviet Union, including the author’s own experiences as a zek, called into question the moral foundations of the USSR

Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault (1975)

Foucault examines the development of modern society’s systems of incarceration

News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García Márquez (1996)

Colombia’s greatest 20th-century writer tells the story of kidnappings carried out by Pablo Escobar’s Medellín cartel


The Travels of Ibn Battuta by Ibn Battuta (1355)

The Arab world’s greatest medieval traveller sets down his memories of journeys throughout the known world and beyond

Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain (1869)

Twain’s tongue-in-cheek account of his European adventures was an immediate bestseller

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West (1941)

A six-week trip to Yugoslavia provides the backbone for this monumental study of Balkan history

Venice by Jan Morris (1960)

An eccentric but learned guide to the great city’s art, history, culture and people

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (1977)

The first volume of Leigh Fermor’s journey on foot through Europe – a glowing evocation of youth, memory and history

Danube by Claudio Magris (1986)

Magris mixes travel, history, anecdote and literature as he tracks the Danube from its source to the sea

China Along the Yellow River by Cao Jinqing (1995)

A pioneering work of Chinese sociology, exploring modern China with a modern face

The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald (1995)

A walking tour in East Anglia becomes a melancholy meditation on transience and decay

Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban (2000)

Raban sets off in a 35ft ketch on a voyage from Seattle to Alaska, exploring Native American art, the Romantic imagination and his own disintegrating relationship along the way

Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Vargas Llosa (2002)

Vargas Llosa distils a lifetime of reading and writing into a manual of the writer’s craft

What have we missed? Help fill in the gaps and join the debate on the blog


10 of the best smart phone apps that will save you money

Written by Kara Gammell

You can now get cashback on your mobile with the latest app

Keeping up with the Joneses means making the most of your smart phone. And with the right applications – or apps – you’ll never have to pay full price for a meal out or a good book again.

We have picked 10 apps to help you save money.

A masterclass in wine apps

10 of the best smart phone apps that will save you money Photo: ANDREW HASSON

1 Quidco

Cost Free

Available for iPhone

Cashback website has just launched an app which rewards users with exclusive money-saving offers just for checking

in to certain high street stores and restaurants.

The UK’s first check-in for cash tool, the Quidco Mobile app lets you make

the most of dozens of money-saving offers in your area such as vouchers and in-store cashback deals when you tap your phone to “check in”.

For instance, this week, check-in at high street retailers such as Debenhams, New Look, Yo Sushi or Esquires Coffee and earn while you shop.

2 Amazon Kindle

Cost Free

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android

Bookworms and commuters will love this free to download app which will let you install Kindle software to read e-books on the move – saving you from forking out as much as £150 for the reading device alone.

With more than a million free books to download from the Kindle Store, it is like having a virtual library of free books at your finger tips.

3 Vouchercloud

Cost Free

Available for iPhone and Android

Vouchercloud uses GPS technology to pinpoint offers and discounts nearest to you. Just pick the offer you want by pressing the redeem button and the voucher is delivered directly to your phone screen.

For example, this week you can download vouchers for 25pc off your bill at Bella Italia, Strada or Café Rouge.

4 Onavo

Cost Free

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android

With the cost of data rising and more mobile providers capping limits, this app can save you a fortune as it claims to give users up to 80pc off their data bills. Once downloaded, this app continuously runs on your device and shrinks the data used every day when browsing the web.

5 0870

Cost 59p

Available for iPhone, iPod touch or Android

Stop paying more than you need on customer service lines with this app. Many companies will use 0870, 0800 or 0845 for customer service, which usually costs 35p per minute to call. This app will turn these numbers into 01 or 02 numbers, which will come out of your contracted minutes.

6 Spotify

Cost Free

Available for iPhone, Android, Symbian, Palm, Windows phone

For music on the move, why not download the Spotify Mobile app and wirelessly sync all your own songs to your handset? Buy whole Spotify playlists and download them in a few clicks. There’s no access to the Spotify music library or Offline mode, but you can log in to Spotify and search for tracks.

Upgrade your membership to Unlimited or Premium for either £4.99-£9.99 a month respectively and stream any of the 13 million tracks in the Spotify library.

7 Ringo Car Parking

Cost Free

Available for Android

Avoid costly car parks with this app from the same company that allows drivers to pay at many NCP and council car parks over the phone with a credit or debit card.

It promises to help you find the best price on parking and allows you to extend the time on the meter so you avoid hefty fines if you are late getting back to your car.

8 Tesco

Cost Free

Available for iPhone

Never buy duplicate items on your food shopping again with the bar-code scanner on Tesco’s groceries app.

When you run out of something in the kitchen, just scan the item and it will automatically be added to your online shopping on the supermarket’s website.

9 Love Food, Hate Waste

Cost: Free

Available for iPhone

Food waste costs the average family more than £680 a year, according to waste management group WRAP. Plan in advance what you are going to eat for the week to avoid throwing out the food you meant to cook at the end of it.

Use this app’s handy portion-size planner to help you prepare the right amount of food and eliminate waste. Or use the recipe blender to try to prepare meals from ingredients you already have in your cupboard.

10 RedLaser

Cost Free

Available for iPhone and Android

Compare prices on the shop floor with this bar-code reading app. Simply scan the item you wish to buy with RedLaser and compare prices of products online by instantly searching TheFind, Google Product Search, eBay and


Bonus: A modest proposal to make finding & coordinating with friends easier over text message.

9 Confessions Of A Former Geek Squad Geek

Written by Chris Morran Photo by Someone Named Meg

Consumerist reader K. recently ended his 4.5 year tenure as a Geek Squad member at Best Buy. And while he says that he considers his time there to be “generally a positive experience,” K. did feel that there is some backstage info the public might want to know.

K. writes:

1. A high percentage of Geek Squad employees lack basic troubleshooting skills such as correctly identifying malfunctioning components. This stems from inadequate and outdated training materials, such as the Best Buy Learning Lounge.

2. People are hired or promoted from other departments to Geek Squad simply to sell services. Specifically, individuals who have no experience working on computers are given the appearance of being a technician.

3. Selling services and warranties are pushed more than actually completing repairs. I remember one instance where my GM said that selling a new computer with services was more important than completing a customer’s unit that they had already paid for.

4. Employees are taught situational tactics to extract as much money as possible from a potential customer. If an individual had a small software issue that could simply be resolved, then we were taught to charge $200.

5. Although this changed shortly before I left, Geek Squad employees at the store I worked at were required to track each individual sale. Before the end of your shift, you were required to get a manager to look at your sales sheet and sign it. If you weren’t doing so well, then the manager “coached” you on how to sell more services.

6. Best Buy Credit Cards were pushed to customers at every available opportunity. More than once, I witnessed Best Buy employees talking to people about signing up for a credit card, only to find out they were not old enough. Also, we were taught in Geek Squad to push the credit card even if the customer was already paying with another form of tender.

7. There is no chance for advancement within the Geek Squad department. The only position an employee could move up to is the Manager.

8. Best Buy does not encourage Geek Squad employees to get certifications or reimburse or pay for part of taking a certification. I specifically remember inquiring about this, and apparently there exists such a program for the GS Auto Techs in which they also get paid more for each certification passed, but not for GS Computer Techs.

9. Geek Squad City, the repair center for repairs we could not do in-store (any repair that was not a hard drive, memory, or power supply replacement), routinely completed unsatisfactory repair work. There were times I would send off a computer 3 times for a verified issue and the unit would come back with the same issue un-repaired. The worst example I can remember was a laptop that had its screen replaced and where the webcam was supposed to be on the screen bezel was instead a screw that held the LCD together.

Bonus: Roald Dahl, you are a good man.