Critical Linking: February 15, 2015

Jane Austen only wrote six complete novels as an adult, but when she was a tween and a teen she spent much of her time scribbling hilarious stories, plays, and mock histories for her family. A new compilation of these works, Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings, out in late January from Penguin Classics, reveals not so much an early genius as an absolutely overwhelming desire to make the people around her laugh.

There’s a new Jane Austen collection and it sounds like it’s got some really amusing stuff in it.


The study found that a Google web crawl of Spanish-language sites had the highest average word happiness, and a search of Chinese books had the lowest—but more importantly, all 24 sources and all languages scored above a five (a neutral score). Or, as UVM mathematician Chris Danforth, who co-led the new research, puts it, “[we] use more happy words than sad words.”

As a species across all languages, humans have more happy words than sad. That’s a plus-one for humanity.


In the list of 90 readings below, excerpted from our collection of 630 Free Audio Books, you can find works by Faulkner and Hemingway, read by Faulkner and Hemingway, and Melville’s Moby Dick, read by a host of celebrity voices. And much, much more. So take some time and reconnect with the voices and faces of literature, which are as important as the words they produce. 

A great collection of poetry you can listen to online, as read by the writers and other celebrities.


For one, there are lots of incredibly amazing black women writing YA and other children’s books, and they’re really good. They’re pushing back on a publishing industry that can be very hostile to women, especially women of color, and often they’re hidden in the “special interests” or “black fiction” shelves when they belong on the regular YA shelves like everyone else does. This is a terrible thing, and we need to make it stop.

Secondly, for black teens, it can be tough to find people who look like them in the literature they read, which is beyond awful. We need to help build a world where it’s easy to find great books with characters of color — and not just black characters.

A nice list of YA books by black women. If you’re diversifying your reading and/or trying to read more books by black authors this month, dig in.


Ever wondered which house you’d be in if you went to Hogwarts? We’re celebrating Harry Potter Book Night with this sorting-hat quiz, which will answer this question forever!

Harry Potter Book Night was earlier this week, but this sorting hat quiz works any day. (I got Ravenclaw).

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