"Midway through the Confessions
, St. Augustine recalls how he used to marvel at the way Ambrose
, the bishop of Milan, read his manuscripts: 'His eyes traveled across the pages and his heart searched out the meaning, but his voice and tongue stayed still.' Scholars have sparred for decades over whether Augustine's offhand observation reveals something momentous: namely, that silent reading—that seemingly mundane act you're engaged in right now—was, in the Dark Ages, a genuine novelty...Could
the earliest readers
literally not shut up
International Read an E-Book Day:
The new holday -- "holiday"? -- is the brainchild of OverDrive, a major e-book distributor. OverDrive is the country's largest provider of e-books to libraries; it handles e-books from 5,000 publishers, including major Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Perseus, Wiley, and Harlequin.
If you've ever checked an e-book out from the L.A. Public Library, it was provided by OverDrive.
To celebrate International Read an E-book Day, Overdrive will be giving away tablets and e-reading devices at the readanebookday.com website and through social media. Readers are asked to "tell their story of what eBooks mean to them" and use the hashtag #eBookDay to be eligible. via: L.A. Times
Future Politics (PDF link)
is a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign class by Jake Bowers on the political theory of science fiction and a great recommended reading and discussion list for the rest of us. How can imagining the future help us understand the present? How does considering the future help us think critically about politics today?...The future hopes and imaginings of past political thinkers do not include either enough detail or enough information about our rapidly changing technological, social, political, and economic landscape to provide us with enough practice to confidently confront the future as citizens as it happens to us. Science fiction allows us a much more detailed view of life in alternative futures, and the writers that we choose to read here tend to think seriously and logically about how current cutting edge technology might have social and political ramifications — however, science fiction authors are also mostly working on a narrative and thus may skim over core concepts that ought to organize our thinking about politics and society. Thus, we read both together in order to practice a kind of theoretically informed futurism (which is not the same as prediction or forecasting, but is more like the practice of confronting the unexpected).
"London has become a literary playground:
a project by the National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across the capital for the whole summer, each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character." (The Guardian
). The BBC report
about the literary benches; the full list of benches
from the Books about Town website. CNN has a slideshow that includes a nice photo of the Paddington Bear bench in use.
"So what is going on here? Should we be reassured that critics are sticking loyally by a work they admire regardless of sales, or bemused that something is being presented as a runaway commercial success when in fact it isn’t?" Tim Parks: Raise Your Hand If You’ve Read Knausgaard. [more inside]
What aren't you reading?
By looking at the top 5 most highlighted passages via Kindle in each book, Jordan Ellenberg has figured out which books are most unread: Take the page numbers of a book's five top highlights, average them, and divide by the number of pages in the whole book. He calls the result the Hawking Index, after the much-unread Brief History of Time
, though Piketty seems to have knocked Hawking off his throne (all five top highlights come in the first 26 pages, out of 700). Also, everyone finishes The Goldfinch
. Previous attempts to figure out what is least finished have been conducted by Goodreads
(#1: Catch-22), and by the Guardian in 2007 (which may explain why Vernon God Little is #1), which included helpful summaries
. What have you not finished recently?
From June 2013, a new scheme, Reading Well Books on Prescription will be available in libraries throughout England. This new scheme has been developed by The Reading Agency and The Society of Chief Librarians and aims to bring reading's healing benefits to the 6 million people with anxiety, depression and other mild to moderate mental health illnesses. There is growing evidence showing that self-help reading can help people with certain mental health conditions get better. Reading Well Books on Prescription will enable GPs and mental health professionals to prescribe patients cognitive behavioural therapy through a visit to the library. Here they can get books to help them understand and manage conditions from depression to chronic pain.
More on the program
from the Boston Globe
Call Me Ishmael
: call a number and leave a voicemail about a book you've loved and a story you've lived. Later, that anonymous voicemail will be transcribed and made into a short video for everyone to see.
Reading: The Struggle
What I’m talking about is the state of constant distraction we live in and how that affects the very special energies required for tackling a substantial work of fiction—for immersing oneself in it and then coming back and back to it on numerous occasions over what could be days, weeks, or months, each time picking up the threads of the story or stories, the patterning of internal reference, the positioning of the work within the context of other novels and indeed the larger world.
Every reader will have his or her own sense of how reading conditions have changed, but here is my own experience. [more inside]
"Why I'm sending 200 copies of Little Brother to a high-school in Pensacola, FL." [boing boing]
"The principal of Booker T Washington High in Pensacola FL cancelled the school's One School/One Book summer reading program rather than letting all the kids go through with the previously approved assignment to read Little Brother, the bestselling young adult novel by Cory Doctorow. With Cory and Tor Books' help, the teachers are fighting back." [VIDEO RESPONSE]
A day in the life of New York City's public libraries: Traveling from borough to borough, this short documentary by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks reveals just how important the modern library is for millions of people. Why Libraries Matter.
How fast do you read
The average adult allegedly reads 300 words a minute, but if that's too slow, there are ways to improve it
"...one of the greatest rewards of a reading life is discovery." A short essay
by Janet Potter
On January 21, The Days of Anna Madrigal,
the last in the Tales of the City
series, will be released. [more inside]
2013 had a lot of great longform writing. Longreads
lead the way with their best of
Lots of sites provided year end lists: The American Prospect
, The Atlantic
, Business Week Buzz
, The Daily Beast
, Dazed Digital
, Esquire UK
, Impose Magazine
, i09, Lifehacker
, Mother Jones
, National Geographic
, National Journal
, The New Yorker
, On Earth
, The Electric Typewriter
, The Verge
, The Voice Media Group
, and The Washington Post. [more inside]
When I published my first novel 20 years later, I found myself faced with the same challenge: how do I talk about this book to people whose entire conception of science fiction and fantasy are built around Star Wars and The Hobbit? How do I convince folks that stories about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal in 2155 are just as serious an endeavor as writing about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal 1955?
"Alt lit [previously
] is accused of navel-gazing myopia, but technically any writing occurring outside of traditional institutions qualifies for the label. Everyone I know has written alt lit: every status update, every blog post, everything that has ever been said on Twitter
. And Twitter, unbeknown to Jonathan Franzen, is especially literary...Which brings me to Heiko Julien
) of "I Am Ready To Die A Violent Death
." [more inside]
50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers.
The Internet has provided us with yet another list. How many have you conquered?
GWAR's Oderus Urungus Reads 'Goodnight Moon'
Poetry International Rotterdam
has contemporary poetry in English translation from all over the world, from Afghanistan
, including countries as different as Argentina
, in languages
as unrelated as French
, as well as many poems originally in the English language
. The poets range in age and stature from those barely
. There are also videos
and audio recordings
of poets reading, as well as articles about poetry
18 Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time.
"I would rather read again for the first time Anna Karenina
, Far Away and Long Ago
, Wuthering Heights
, Madame Bovary
, War and Peace
, A Sportsman's Sketches
, The Brothers Karamazov
, Hail and Farewell
, Huckleberry Finn
, Winesburg, Ohio
, La Reine Margot
, La Maison Tellier
, Le Rouge et le Noire
, La Chartreuse de Parme
, Yeat's Autobiographies
and a few others than have an assured income of a million dollars a year."
The Writer As Reader: Melville and his Marginalia In the General Rare Books Collection at Princeton University Library sits a stunning two-volume edition of John Milton that once belonged to Herman Melville. Melville's tremendous debt to Milton — and to Homer, Virgil, the Bible, and Shakespeare — might be evident to anyone who has wrestled with the moral and intellectual complexity that lends Moby Dick its immortal heft, but to see Melville's marginalia in his 1836 Poetical Works of John Milton is to understand just how intimately the author of the great American novel engaged with the author of the greatest poem in English. Checkmarks, underscores, annotations, and Xs reveal the passages in Paradise Lost and other poems that would have such a determining effect on Melville's own work.
The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure [PDF, there is a Word file direct from the DoD]
is 167 pages of stories of elaborate frauds, scams, and abuses of power in the US government. Interestingly, the sarcasm-filled document is also published by the US government, to help illustrate how government workers get in trouble. Freakonomics radio has a amusing and interesting discussion
with the Encyclopedia
's editor and founding editor [link goes to transcript]. [more inside]
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son
loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf
, which would later be called The Harvard Classics
." (Via) [more inside]
With Rifle and Bibliography.
"In late 2003 a colleague of General James Mattis
wrote to him asking for a few words on the importance of reading and military history for the officer, even where it might seem that one was “too busy to read.”"
His letter is found about 1/3 down in the linked page, also pasted the entire first letter after the jump. [more inside]
At Slate.com, Ted Scheinman has written a nice appreciation of John LeCarré. Confessions of a John le Carré Devotee
"...I could tell there was more than politics, class, and acts of stratospheric treason to be found in these pages. I adored the psychological acuity with which he roamed his characters’ heads..."
If the bird is the word, three must be the number.
Do you feel you don't have time to read everything you want? What about establishing some ground rules?
For this blog I plan, among other things, to read and review every novel to reach the number one spot on Publishers Weekly annual bestsellers list, starting in 1913. Beyond just a book review, I'm going to provide some information on the authors and the time at which these books were written in an attempt to figure out just what made these particular books popular at that particular time.
The first District line train out of Upminster in the morning is the first train anywhere on the underground network. It leaves the depot at 4.53, the only train anywhere in the system to set out from its base before 5am ... if you catch that train, you might be tempted to say ta-dah!—except you probably wouldn't, because nobody is thinking ta-dah! at seven minutes to five in the morning; certainly nobody on this train. People look barely awake, barely even alive. They feel the same way they look; I know because, this morning, I'm one of them.
John Lanchester on the experience, at once aversive and hypnotic, of catching the London Underground
. Lanchester's article is an extract from his forthcoming entry in the new Penguin Lines
series of tube-reading-friendly books released to commemorate the Underground's 150th anniversary
. Meanwhile, the Guardian
a collaborative Spotify playlist
of songs that mention Tube stations, for those so inclined.
In theory: the unread and the unreadable
- "We measure our lives with unread books – and 'difficult' works can induce the most guilt. How should we view this challenge?"
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities
-- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino
. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan
, the explorer Marco Polo
describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities
, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes
, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading
. [more inside]
The Secret Lives of Readers Books reveal themselves. Whether they exist as print or pixels, they can be read and examined and made to spill their secrets. Readers are far more elusive. They leave traces—a note in the margin, a stain on the binding—but those hints of human handling tell us only so much. The experience of reading vanishes with the reader.
How do we recover the reading experiences of the past? Lately scholars have stepped up the hunt for evidence of how people over time have interacted with books, newspapers, and other printed material.
Authors choose their favourite short stories. For the next two weeks over the festive period we will be running a short story podcast each day. Our contributing authors introduce the stories they have chosen to read.
Ford reads Carver. Gordimer reads Saramago. Selfs reads Borges. Postcasts are being posted here
"Reading is always an act of empathy" - John Green
of Crash Course
) explains "How and Why We Read
" (... and recommends his favorite books)
. [more inside]
My 6,128 Favorite Books
- "Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder."
Conceived as sort of a companion to Longreads, Longform, Pocket, Byliner, etc., Nieman Storyboard's Why's This So Good?
series looks at why
some great long-form journalism and narrative nonfiction pieces are so great. There are over 60 installments of writers talking shop about writing. [more inside]
What's Wrong With Online Reading,
a slide presentation by Randy Connolly, argues that the relatively recent and increasingly popular approach to reading and learning - on computers, tablets and smartphones instead of traditional print - influences what and how we read, research and think, with disturbing consequences.
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films
were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating
, preparing for being drafted
, and shyness
, as well as to children on following the law
, the value of quietness in school
, and appreciating our parents
. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health
, what kind of people live in America
, how to keep a job
, supervising women workers
, the nature of capitalism
, and the plantation System in Southern life
. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives
as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]