Art Works Blog

The Big Read

March is one day away, so to kick off National Women's Month we're shining a light on Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old heroine of Charles Portis's novel, True Grit . Though fictional, young Mattie leaps off the pages with her unwavering conviction and outsize personality. This wonderful moment from the...
In 1966, author Jorge Luis Borges told an interviewer, “I think nowadays, while literary men seem to have neglected their epic duties, the epic has been saved for us, strangely enough, by the Westerns.” It’s true that the soundstages of Hollywood—commercially driven and glitteringly artificial—...
In honor of Valentine's Day, we asked our Facebook friends to tell us about their first literary crush. Here's what they had to say: I think I have to go with Jane Eyre. Then and now, I view her behavior as so admirable. She has a hard road to hoe but she traverses everything with dignity and...
Washington is a tourist’s dream: we’ve got more monuments and museums than you can shake a stick at. But in between the grand marble memorials are a number of smaller literary landmarks, which are often regrettably easy to miss. Here are a few that are worth seeking out. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...
The Maltese Falcon hinges on the trials and and tribulations of our anti-hero, detective Sam Spade, who is brilliantly portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in the faithful film adaptation. However good the film may be, it does not come close to the experience of reading the book. What's more, the film...
We love reading our favorite writers on the page, but seeing their faces on the street? Now that’s a special pleasure all its own. So feast your eyes on what happens when street art gets literary, and check out the unique ways Big Read authors and others have been used to transform our public...
Like peanut butter and jelly or red wine and cheese, music and books are often enhanced when enjoyed together. So with the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony and Concert coming up on Monday, we thought it would be fun to pair our Big Read books with what felt like complementary jazz tunes. Have...
Over 100 years after his death, Mark Twain is still making headlines—and not just in the literary world. Last month , PsyPost.com ran a piece announcing, “New study confirms Mark Twain’s saying: Travel is fatal to prejudice.” The study, first published in the journal Social Psychological and...
Julie Otsuka’s debut novel , When the Emperor was Divine — one of our new Big Read titles — is a somber and insightful historical narrative of contemporary fiction. In her novel, Otsuka masterfully captures and illuminates the infamous tensions in the United States during 1942. Fueled by the...
It's been a cold and snowy week in Washington, which naturally put us in a wonderful wintry mood (or a cranky, bitter mood, if you're the summer type). To celebrate the fact that it finally feels like winter, we thought we'd share "The Bells," a sweet seasonal poem from Edgar Allan Poe, published...

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