Posts Tagged: The Book Bench

Read It Again?

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“For Nabokov, another reading was always constructive. But for Spacks, rereading—though satisfying for pure literary analysis—can reveal unwelcome truths about our past selves, and cause disenchantment—in the most literal sense—with the books we used to love.” The Book Bench reviews Patricia Meyer Spack’s On Rereading, describing it as a combination of “memoir, literary criticism, and […]

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On Big-Idea Books

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At the Atlantic, Marshall Poe discusses his attempt to write a “big-idea book” about Wikipedia, and how he ended up with a “book of ideas” instead. “Years of academic research taught me two things. First, reality is as complicated as it is, not as complicated as we want it to be. Some phenomena have an […]

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Loss Aversion and Decisions

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How useful is self-knowledge in decision making? Not very, according to Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow. The Book Bench takes a look at Kahneman’s ideas—the most significant being that we suffer from loss aversion, which helps explain many of our most human qualities, like irrationality, stubbornness, and making mistakes. “Unlike homo economicus, […]

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On Our Public Privacy

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In this Smart Set piece, Stefany Anne Golberg contemplates the “public commodification of privacy,” finding a precursor to our own tendencies in the poet Charles Baudelaire’s navigation of 19th century urban life. “But the illusion of public privacy is one we have all created, one we all participate in — and understandably so. Like Baudelaire, […]

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Morrison’s New Novel

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Toni Morrison, who was in DC over the weekend to receive the 2011 Library of Congress National Book Festival Award for Creative Achievement, took part in a Q&A for the The Hay-Adams Author Series. The author touched on her upcoming novel, Home, to be published in May of 2012, revealing that “it’s set in the […]

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Deaf Culture

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“Hearing people should not fool themselves into thinking they can understand the Deaf experience. What we need to understand, though, is that there is more to it than not being able to hear.” In honor of Deaf Awareness Week this article offers a glimpse into the ins and outs of Deaf culture, which was officially […]

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Touré Interview

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“Post-racial suggests a world where race does not exist and racism does not exist, and it’s a completely ridiculous term…With post-Blackness, what I’m talking about is a conception of Blackness where the identity options are infinite. So, we’re not saying THIS is what it is to be Black.” That is Touré conversing with Galleycat about […]

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On The Ecstatic

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“From the Greek ek-stasis, it means “standing outside of,” as in separation from the common, or, in the Hellenic religious understanding, a hiatus from cognition in celebration of the visceral and mystical.” Interpreting Euripedes’ The Bacchae as “a masterful homage to the necessity of ecstasy,” William Giraldi dives into the evolving meaning of ecstasy, and […]

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Soundtracks for Books

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Booktrack, a New York start-up, is weaving noises and music into e-books. According to their website, the idea behind synchronizing soundtracks to existing e-books, is to “dramatically boost the reader’s imagination and engagement.” To hear a demo you can check out this piece, which wonders whether readers will find the format distracting, while pointing out […]

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“Books and Babies”

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Cambridge University Library has a new exhibit entitled “Books and Babies: Communicating Reproduction,” which explores the ongoing interactions between the “two senses of reproduction” over time. If you cannot make it to England before the end of the year, you can peruse the exhibit in its extensive online form. Reflecting on “Books and Babies,” this […]

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Climate Change Fiction

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I’m With the Bears, a collection of short stories on climate change, is due for publication this October. Published by Verso—who describes it as “an aim to bring our probable future within the grasp of our comprehension”—the project’s proceeds will go to the international grassroots organization 350.org. The collection promises to be varied in genre […]

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What’s the Catch?

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Catch-22 turns 50 today. What better way to celebrate than perusing this article. It discusses why the novel has inspired such “divergent” reactions. In teasing out the reasons, the article takes us back into the intricacies of Heller’s work and argues that the principal flaw comes from a clash between the novel’s satirical intention and […]

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Emergency Thinking

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“One of the things that has seduced people into giving up on their own actions is the claim of emergency—the government will often make the spurious claim that because certain things require very fast action, there is no time for ordinary processes of deliberation and thinking, and therefore we have to abridge our normal protocols. […]

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The Impersonal Book Review

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Macy Halford writes on the book review, and our inclinations towards immersing ourselves in the opinions of our friends and trusted personalities. But alas, we can’t really know someone through their book recommendations, and this shouldn’t impede our ability to appreciate them. There is a certain impersonal distance that keeps writers and readers somewhat separate, […]

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The Thirty-Second Story

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Inspired by “Jeopardy!,” this Book Bench article explores “the thirty-second story.” The anxiety-inducing nature of composing a memoir in thirty seconds is explored through discussion with former contestants of the show and by imploring other Book Benchers to compose their own thirty-second stories. Try writing your own if you’re looking to add some anxiety to […]

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The Diaries Of Roland Barthes

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At The Book Bench, a moving exploration of Roland Barthes’ diaries, focusing especially on his unique handwriting: “Reading someone’s handwriting can be incredibly intimate and revealing, perhaps especially in an age of e-mail and texting. The confines of font streamline and depersonalize emotionality, in contrast with the romance of thoughtful script or the tragic desperation […]

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