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Whether you are looking for motivation to read good literature, or a cheat sheet that will allow you to discuss books you should have read, Kevin Smokler’s “Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School” may be just the ticket.  Published by Prometheus Books, “Practical Classics” includes both the “old” classics – “Huck Finn,” Shakespeare, Jane Austen – as well as modern classics such as Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club” and Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar.”  In other words, Smokler ventured afar from the dead white guys tradition of defining a classic, and a few of his selections are likely to surprise you.  In this interview, we discuss how he made the decision about what to include, how the books was structured, and why he wrote it in the first place.

Smokler is also the editor of “Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times”  and has been called a “publishing visionary” by the Huffington Post.


Monica Hadley is co-founder, host and producer of Writers' Voices on KRUU 100.1 fm in Fairfield, Iowa, a community low power radio station, and webmaster at

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