Can Books Build Community?

Putting California’s Inland Empire on the Literary Map

Ahtziri and I are sitting on a stone garden bench outside the church in Riverside, California, where my children take piano lessons. In her hand is a stack of papers—typed forms for me to sign, neatly handwritten manuscript pages, and sketches of fictional characters with names and biographical information.

I have been asked to mentor Ahtziri, a 17-year-old high school senior, through the process of writing a novel for her A.P. English class. I am not a novelist, but I am a poet, and I direct a nonprofit—the Inlandia Institute—whose mission …

150 Years of Drawing ‘Wonderland’

From Woodcut Prints to Dalí Paintings, Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ Has Inspired Artists and Made Books into Art

The Mock Turtle, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledum, the White Queen: Few books have given us as many memorable characters as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking …

Why Americans of All Ages Love Little Golden Books

Twelve Lively, Kid-Centric Book Covers from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

In the early 20th century, most children’s books were large, lavishly illustrated, and expensive. They were absent from the bookshelves of most American families, and enjoyed primarily in libraries and …

What Would Jesus Read?

Americans Are Obsessed With Popular Religious Books Because They Give Us What Organized Religion Can't

In the 1990s, my best friend—a brilliant historian with an “I read banned books” bumper sticker on her car—handed me a book that had changed her life. It was Thomas …

Brilliant, Brainy Books to Take to the Beach This Summer 2015

World-Class Minds Pick Their Favorites to Pack With Your Sunscreen--From a Grisly True-Life Murder Investigation to the Life of Willie Nelson

Summer is a time of familiar comforts: the scent of sunscreen and the feeling of sand between toes, the taste of Bomb Pops and the sight of long, late, orange …

At the Last Bookstore

At the last bookstore, Anne Frank still smiles
on the shelf,
marked down to sell.

No one is buying tonight.


beyond the miles
of cinder block walls
suburban backyards