Literary criticism suffers from elitism, claims Elisabeth Donnelly over at Flavorwire, and the solution is introducing a poptimism revolution. The term poptimism originated in the music world as a reaction to stodgy music reviewers’ love of Bob Dylan and “argues for a more inclusive view of what matters and what’s pleasurable in music.” Donnelly insists that book reviewers and literary culture could stand to benefit from a wider audience by embracing popular books....more
Posts Tagged: reading
Writer Michael Harris discusses digital distraction and reading War and Peace at Salon:
But there’s a religious certainty required in order to devote yourself to one thing while cutting off the rest of the world. We don’t know that the inbox is emergency-free, we don’t know that the work we’re doing is the work we ought to be doing.
When she first began so long ago, long before she knew how many days every day could be, she’d worried. Had she chosen the right story? Would it retain its power over time? Would she be able to read it again and again, once a day every day?
As the number of Americans who read books has declined, those who do read have begun wearing t-shirts, carrying tote bags, and sticking magnets on their fridges declaring their love of reading. Some book lovers even perform “book stunts,” reading through the encyclopedia or the dictionary over the course of a year....more
Why is offering book recommendations so hard? People solicit book recommendations from their well-read friends all the time, but too often we’re left seemingly stumped to provide them with the best book possible. Swapna Krishna over at BookRiot points out its not because we don’t know about good books, but the opposite:
The fact is that there are just too many good books out there, and I want to recommend all of them to the person at a party who asked a question they thought was innocuous.
Inspiration comes from many sources, including the books we read. As we internalize other authors’s work, they inevitably influence our writing (often without us ever knowing). The novelist Kim Triedman explores the relationship writers have to the books they read at Beyond the Margins:
As writers, we read and are enriched, see possibilities for language – syntax and rhythm, repetition and rhyme and enjambment – where before there were none.
We linked to an Atlantic article in January about the recent decline in readers in America. According to the article, 23 percent of Americans went without reading a single novel in 2013.
Now, Time has a summary of a recent study of reading’s effects on the brain. As expected, the activity roughly a quarter of Americans forwent last year is statistically correlated with cultivating social awareness, creativity, and empathy; in other words, pretty good things....more
Is it possible to read War and Peace on an iPhone? In the Pacific Standard, Casey Cepp considers whether apps can actually help us become better, more thoughtful readers:
This literary diet will not be for everyone. But the emancipation of digital reading habits, like those of the printed book before them, allows us to choose the way we read.
Up on your wall behind your office desk is a small sheet of paper, gold-leaf embossed, an emblem in the bottom right hand corner—it reads: The University of Something-or-Rather in authoritative print. But is the paper just filling space? You miss the seminars, the depth, the charged discussions…
Have a look at this article from the Huffington Post for some information on how to have a successful book club....more
Reading is a private activity, even as it allows us to commune with the mind and imagination of an author we will probably never meet. Yet because reading a great book can be so overwhelmingly gratifying and transformative, many of us yearn to share the experience with the people we care about.
In her deeply personal essay on The Millions, Allison K. Gibson explains some of the intense literary cravings she experienced during her pregnancy. Some of them were unexpected, even violent, but all were led entirely by intuition.
“Now I had a voracious appetite to consume certain books I’d read long ago, revisiting passages that had always been especially moving.
According to a recent Pew poll, 23 percent of Americans didn’t read even a single book last year.
That number has been rising steadily, from 8 percent in 1978, to 16 percent in 1990, to the current figure.
The Atlantic‘s Jordan Weissman says “the downturn might be over”—but the prognosis isn’t looking great....more
The folks over at BOOKish have a wonderful idea: add reading to your list of New Year’s resolutions. They have helpful hints for how you can accomplish this:
“Read a new author
It’s so difficult to determine which authors are “new” to which readers, so we’re recommending reads by a slew of recent fantastic debut authors.
Over at WNPR this week Maureen Corrigan offers up a “Literary Escape Plan” from holiday stress.
The Borsch Belt-style Pilgrim jokes and mishmash recipes (turkey brined in Manischewitz, anyone?) are flying around the Internet; but since Jews are frequently referred to as “the People of the Book” and Pilgrims pretty much lived by the Book, Thanksgivukkah seems to me like the quintessential (stressful) family holiday to celebrate by escaping into a book.
Hey Los Angeles Rockers!
Sunday night is the launch and reading event of Black Clock, issue 17 and you know you want to be there....more
“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.”
Neil Gaiman offers strong words at The Guardian on why libraries, reading, and daydreaming is vital to our future....more
The reading skills of American adults are significantly lower than those of adults in most other developed countries, according to a new international survey. What’s more, over the last two decades Americans’ reading proficiency has declined across most age groups, and has only improved significantly for 65-year-olds.
A degree in English may make your job search harder, but it makes empathy and social interaction easier, according to a study conducted by some people who had more practical majors.
The study, published in Science, found that literary fiction like Dostoevsky or Louise Erdrich enhanced subjects’ ability to read others’ emotions more than did popular fiction or “nonfiction that was well-written, but not literary or about people.”
Erdrich’s take on the matter: “This is why I love science….[They] found a way to prove true the intangible benefits of literary fiction….Thank God the research didn’t find that novels increased tooth decay or blocked up your arteries.”...more
Every month The Poetry Society of America presents two poets at McNally Jackson as a part of their reading series and it’s usually a knock-out pairing. This month abides the rule with readings from C.K. Williams and Angelo Nikolopoulos.
Of special note this week: The venue formerly known as The Bowery Poetry Club has reopened their doors after some serious renovations. Now going by the name Bowery Arts and Science — which makes more sense since poetry was a small fraction of the programming there — they are back and have a full schedule up on the site....more
The end of August is a notoriously slow time for events of all kinds in New York. Why this year, and this week, has been an exception I do not know. August is full of great, weird, thought-provoking events. Get out of the house....more
The Franklin Park Reading Series is back this week and is something of a special line-up as they’re featuring a few poets, which is a rare occurrence for the series. The line-up includes the great short story author Amy Hempel, Matthew Savoca, Corey Zeller, Nicole Audrey Spector, and Rebecca Schiff.
Join the Mystery Writers of America for a reading featuring Annamaria Alfieri, Kevin Egan, Clare Toohey, Kate Lincoln, Susan Olsen, Cathi Stoler and Sheila York. KGB Bar, 7pm, free.
Birds, LLC hosts a reading featuring Dan Magers, Bianca Stone, Sampson Starkweather, Justin Marks, Paige Taggert, and Chris Tonelli.
The Poetry Society of New York’s 3rd Annual New York Poetry Festival is coming up on July 27 and 28 on Governors Island.
The festival has become a highlight of the New York lit-o-sphere in the summer. A short ferry ride from Manhattan, the fest attracts poets from around the country for two days of poetry on three stages for six hours each day....more
Is it that you don’t connect to the characters, or that the writing is weak? Maybe there’s one too many typos or the plot seems implausible.
Goodreads has created an infographic about the most abandoned books (Fifty Shades of Grey is among them) and the reasons for their abandonment based on the book reviews left on their website....more