Classic literature is intimidating. Especially in the digital age when abbreviations and emoticons abound, the classics can seem inaccessible and daunting. But this year, writer and professor Sandra Newman has published a guide to help us approach the classics with an open mind, providing tips and relevant references for each book. Newman, who has taught creative writing for over 15 years, is particularly well aware of the fact that many view the classics as boring and cryptic. The Western Lit Survival Kit, now out in paperback, enables readers to tackle some of the great works of literature via pop-culture comparisons and trivia.
Newman, who now lives in Brooklyn, has taught at Temple University, Chapman University, and the University of Colorado. She has published the novels Cake and The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, as well as a memoir, Changeling. Newman has co-authored How Not to Write a Novel and Read This Next. Read This Next, also written by New York-based novelist and editor Howard Mittelmark, offers 500 readers book recommendations. Newman and Mittelmark accompany each featured book with humorous insights and discussion questions.