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08 Jun 2011


Came across this post summing up beautifully what it means to be a reader today:

"The vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It's just numbers.

"...It's undoubtedly true; there are things that fade. But I can't help blaming, in part, the fact that we also simply have access to more and more things to choose from more and more easily. Netflix, Amazon, iTunes – you wouldn't have to go and search dusty used bookstores or know the guy who works at a record store in order to hear most of that stuff you're missing. You'd only have to choose to hear it.

"You used to have a limited number of reasonably practical choices presented to you, based on what bookstores carried, what your local newspaper reviewed, or what you heard on the radio, or what was taught in college by a particular English department. There was a huge amount of selection that took place above the consumer level. (And here, I don't mean "consumer" in the crass sense of consumerism, but in the sense of one who devours, as you do a book or a film you love.)

"Now, everything gets dropped into our laps, and there are really only two responses if you want to feel like you're well-read, or well-versed in music, or whatever the case may be: culling and surrender.

"Culling is the choosing you do for yourself. It's the sorting of what's worth your time and what's not worth your time. It's saying, 'I deem Keeping Up With The Kardashians a poor use of my time, and therefore, I choose not to watch it.' It's saying, 'I read the last Jonathan Franzen book and fell asleep six times, so I'm not going to read this one.'

"Surrender, on the other hand, is the realization that you do not have time for everything that would be worth the time you invested in it if you had the time, and that this fact doesn't have to threaten your sense that you are well-read. Surrender is the moment when you say, 'I bet every single one of those 1,000 books I'm supposed to read before I die is very, very good, but I cannot read them all, and they will have to go on the list of things I didn't get to.'

"It is the recognition that well-read is not a destination; there is nowhere to get to, and if you assume there is somewhere to get to, you'd have to live a thousand years to even think about getting there, and by the time you got there, there would be a thousand years to catch up on.

"...It's an effort, I think, to make the world smaller and easier to manage, to make the awareness of what we're missing less painful. There are people who choose not to watch television – and plenty of people don't, and good for them – who find it easier to declare that they don't watch television because there is no good television (which is culling) than to say they choose to do other things, but acknowledge that they're missing out on Mad Men (which is surrender)."

-- excerpts from The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything by Linda Holmes (read the whole post)

07 Jun 2011

(Photo credit)

Came across this interesting blog post via Internet Archive. I have long been a fan of Internet Archive because I think, in their own way, they're saving the world. At least, the world I love - the world of books. Ever since I can remember, these guys have been sharing digital books for everyone - yes, books for the public domain. What could be better?

The answer: collecting "one [physical] copy of every book ever published" for long-term warehousing in shipping containers. Now that is awesome.

To quote:

"Books are being thrown away, or sometimes packed away, as digitized versions become more available. This is an important time to plan carefully for there is much at stake.

"Digital technologies are changing both how library materials are accessed and increasingly how library materials are preserved. After the Internet Archive digitizes a book from a library in order to provide free public access to people world-wide, these books go back on the shelves of the library. We noticed an increasing number of books from these libraries moving books to “off site repositories” make space in central buildings for more meeting spaces and work spaces. These repositories have filled quickly and sometimes prompt the de-accessioning of books...While we understand the need to manage physical holdings, we believe this should be done thoughtfully and well.

"A reason to preserve the physical book that has been digitized is that it is the authentic and original version that can be used as a reference in the future. If there is ever a controversy about the digital version, the original can be examined...Saving physical copies of digitized books might at least be seen in a similar light as an authoritative and safe copy that may be called upon in the future.

"...Therefore we have determined that we will keep a copy of the books we digitize if they are not returned to another library. Since we are interested in scanning one copy of every book ever published, we are starting to collect as many books as we can."

06 Jun 2011

04 Jun 2011
Happy weekend, everyone! What will you be reading this weekend? I am currently reading Jeremey Mercer's Time Was Soft There.

I hope everyone will have a grand time just relaxing and reading. Here's something to inspire you:


04 Jun 2011

"Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book." -- Christopher Morley

02 Jun 2011
Wow. I can relate so much to this! (via)

To quote:

"Anyway. Once compelled to the bookstore, I experience additional compulsions, such as

- Offering unsolicited help to confused-looking customers: Most of the time these are high school or college students, searching for assigned reading, usually in the wrong section (Contemporary Authors when they should be in Classics). Not only do I feel compelled to point them to the opposite side of the store, I’ve even gone so far as to walk them over there, and then suggest particular editions of the book. I try to avoid a route that would put me in the direct scope of the legitimate employees as I perform this unwanted service.

- Suggesting books to strangers: This compulsion is linked to another urge, the compulsion to look at what people are buying. If I see someone picking up a Philip K. Dick novel, I nosily ask about China Miéville, because I know that there’s a copy of Perdido Street Station that still hasn’t found a home. If some poor kid is in the Faulkner section to find As I Lay Dying for school, I become the creepy weirdo who suggests that she also read Go Down, Moses. On the “B” aisle once, my awareness of a used copy of 2666 became so distressing (why hadn’t someone already picked it up!) that I waited until someone else strolled down the aisle and tried to casually mention how awesome the book was, and that that person could not do wrong to buy it. Weird look ensues.

- Desiring books I already own: The copy of 2666 (which disappeared by the next week, thankfully) highlights another strange compulsion. If I find a copy of, say, Tree of Smoke, I feel compelled to pick it up and give it to someone. I have to remind myself that giving someone a 700 page book that got incredibly mixed reviews is not really a gift; it’s a dare or burden.

- Tracking books: So, yeah, I keep track of books. Why hasn’t anyone picked up Vollmann’s The Ice-Shirt in six months? Why is there still a used copy of Suttree? This is shamefully obsessive, but not as shamefully obsessive as—

- Hiding books: I don’t even know how to begin to start to try to explain this. Let’s move on.

- Buying books I’m pretty sure I’ll never read: I’m pretty sure that I’ll never get through all or even most of Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake, but I had to buy the first edition. When will I have time to get through Malcolm Lowry’s Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place? Why do I feel the need to pick up British Penguin editions of Aldous Huxley books that I already own (and have not read all of yet)?

- Scouring for book marks: I don’t know why, but I like to find what people have used to mark their places in their books. I have, to my great shame, transferred, on occasion, a bookmark from a book that I’m not going to buy to one I am taking. This isn’t exactly theft, but it feels like a strange violation of sorts."

31 May 2011
I was searching for a Nick Drake song, and then I saw this. Wow. I can't wait to make it!

28 May 2011
If you know anyone who is graduating, loves reading, loves books, and most importantly, loves Jack Kerouac, then this might just be the perfect gift (via Flavorwire):

27 May 2011
Artist Jane Mount "paint[s] people's ideal bookshelves: your favorite books, books that changed your life, books that made you who you are."

I love her work! There is something really, really wonderful about this. She has a book coming out in a few years. Read more about it here.

26 May 2011
I am always fascinated when great artists and auteurs share that they like to read, or listen to music, or watch TV or the movies. It's a small personal glimpse into their lives outside the work that they do, and I am curious as to what they consume - intellectually, that is. I wonder if these are a part of what makes them awesome. Found via Studio 360:

"Recently, Kurt Andersen caught up with Steven Soderbergh at New York's Pratt Institute and came back with a nice little morsel — a list of Soderbergh's cultural diet, broken down day by day, for the last year...Turns out that Soderbergh is a voracious reader, devouring tomes by Jonathan Franzen, Barbara Kingsolver, and David Foster Wallace in what appears to be mere days."

See his complete list here (PDF). It also contains films he has watched.

16 Apr 2011
Take a peek at the limited edition notebook created in honor of one of the most well-loved literary icons of the 20th Century, Le Petit Prince.

14 Apr 2011
This amazing exhibition by Richard Wentworth is called "False Ceiling". (via)

I wouldn't mind having that in my room. Imagine, a ceiling full of things I love! Heaven.

13 Apr 2011

1. W.H. Auden’s 1956 New York Times review of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King. "It’s a fantastic review that defends Tolkien’s literary authenticity against his many haters, using Erich Auerbach’s groundbreaking work Mimesis as a central arguing point."

2. Letter from David Lehman: The New School Establishes the Paul Violi Poetry Prize. "Robert Polito (who directs the New School's Writing Program) and I are happy to make it official: We're establishing the Paul Violi Poetry Prize at the New School. We will give out an award annually to the most deserving poetry student in the New School Writing Program, where Paul was a much loved presence."

3. Found in Translation [by Stephanie Paterik]. "“To write in Slovenian is to write in fragility,” poet Aleš Šteger said at a New School poetry forum on March 29. He was speaking of his fractured native language...Šteger is something of a poetry rock star in Central Europe – he has the awards and the haircut to prove it. He published his first book at age 22 in 1995, and Slovenia promptly heralded him as one of its most promising writers. Since then, he has written four books of poems, a fictional travelogue, and a collection of lyric essays."

4. The Wing on a Flea. "The Wing on a Flea: A Book about Shapes. Ed Emberley ~ Little Brown, 1961. Ed Emberley has taught thousands of children how to draw over the years, including my high school boyfriend who painted this dragon on a rock for me on my 16th birthday. (Romantic, no?) And let's not the Drummer Hoff who fired it off. But in this, his first book, he takes kids on the journey of shapes, finding them in all sorts of random places, that in sum make up the whole, wide world."

5. Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird. "For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on Earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfold world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and how to die."

11 Apr 2011
Does one have to win? In my opinion, yes. And that's books. As much as I like ebooks, they don't offer me the same satisfaction as real books. And as digital readers become more prevalent, I am also more vigilant and determined than ever to keep books alive.

(via Newsweek)

10 Apr 2011