TUMBLR

A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Posts tagged "reading"

Jul 22, 2014
Permalink
READ A BOOK INSTEAD

I made an iPhone wallpaper for you.

READ A BOOK INSTEAD

I made an iPhone wallpaper for you.

Jul 17, 2014
Permalink
Why doesn’t the Kindle screensaver default to the cover of the book you’re currently reading?

distorte:


  I don’t understand why the [Kindle’s] screensaver is not the cover of the book currently being read. Instead we get a selection of bland stock imagery in an era when bland stock imagery is almost mainstream in its unpopularity. And the device, whenever it is sitting on your coffee table or drawn from your bag, is displaying these meaningless, artless images. They are not incidental or occasional, but the primary visual identity of the object at rest. A real book is a visual placeholder in your life as you read it, a cover and content that become entwined as you go. For all its unread hours of the day it announces itself from your bedside table, from your couch. Its presence is a mental bookmark, its individuality a mental trigger. The Kindle is a ten minute coding job away from replicating this relationship, but it simply doesn’t want to. I’m not sure why. Are we meant to love the device, rather than the books it contains? Is that too obvious a suspicion?


Excellent thoughts on experiencing the Kindle for the first time. (via)

Why doesn’t the Kindle screensaver default to the cover of the book you’re currently reading?

distorte:

I don’t understand why the [Kindle’s] screensaver is not the cover of the book currently being read. Instead we get a selection of bland stock imagery in an era when bland stock imagery is almost mainstream in its unpopularity. And the device, whenever it is sitting on your coffee table or drawn from your bag, is displaying these meaningless, artless images. They are not incidental or occasional, but the primary visual identity of the object at rest. A real book is a visual placeholder in your life as you read it, a cover and content that become entwined as you go. For all its unread hours of the day it announces itself from your bedside table, from your couch. Its presence is a mental bookmark, its individuality a mental trigger. The Kindle is a ten minute coding job away from replicating this relationship, but it simply doesn’t want to. I’m not sure why. Are we meant to love the device, rather than the books it contains? Is that too obvious a suspicion?

Excellent thoughts on experiencing the Kindle for the first time. (via)

Jul 08, 2014
Permalink

Reading Proust in prison

Daniel Genis spent ten years in prison and read over one thousand books:

He read “In Search of Lost Time” alongside two academic guidebooks, full of notations in French, and a dictionary. He said that no other novel gave him as much appreciation for his time in prison. “Of course, we are memory artists as well…,” he wrote of prisoners in his journal, in the entry on “Time Regained.” “Everyone inside tries to make their time go by as quickly as possible and live entirely in the past,” he said. “But to kill your days is essentially to shorten your own life.” In prison, time was both an enemy and a resource, and Genis said that Proust convinced him that the only way to exist outside of it, however briefly, was to become a writer himself… Later, when he came across a character in a Murakami novel who says that one really has to be in jail to read Proust, Genis said that he laughed louder than he had in ten years.

Murakami might be on to something. The people I know of who’ve read a stupendous amount of books in a certain period of time have lived in a kind of sparse, prison-like existence. When the depression hit, Joseph Campbell moved to a shack outside of Woodstock, New York, and read nine hours a day for five years. When I was 20, I spent 6 months in Cambridge, England living in a room the size of a broom closet, and that’s when I read Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Joyce, etc. (At one point, Genis’s father tells him to read Ulysses in prison, because “he wouldn’t have the willpower to get through it once he became a free man.”) My friend was in the Peace Corps for two years in Africa, and he said all there was to do at night was smoke weed and read. He read a couple hundred books.

Maybe that’s what college should be: two years where your rent is paid and you do nothing but read…

Filed under: reading

Jun 19, 2014
Permalink

9 good bits from Adam Phillips’ Paris Review interview

1) “I had never had any desire to be a writer. I wanted to be a reader.”

2) “One thing you discover in psychoanalytic treatment is the limits of what you can change about yourself or your life. We are children for a very long time.”

3) “Fortunately, I never recovered from my education, I’ve just carried on with it. If you happen to like reading, it can have a very powerful effect on you, an evocative effect, at least on me. It’s not as though when I read I’m gathering information, or indeed can remember much of what I read. I know the books that grip me, as everybody does, but their effect is indiscernible. I don’t quite know what it is. The Leavisite position, more or less, is that reading certain sentences makes you more alive and a morally better person, and that those two things go together. It seems to me that that isn’t necessarily so, but what is clear is that there are powerful unconscious evocative effects in reading books that one loves. There’s something about these books that we want to go on thinking about, that matters to us. They’re not just fetishes that we use to fill gaps. They are like recurring dreams we can’t help thinking about.”

4) “You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself.”

5) “That’s what a life is, it’s the lives you don’t have.”

6) “I hope you read one of my books because it gives you pleasure or because you hate it—you read it for those sorts of reasons—and then you discover what you find yourself thinking, feeling, in the reading of it.”

7) “You can’t write differently, even if you want to. You just have to be able to notice when you are boring yourself.”

8) “Anybody who writes knows you don’t simply write what you believe. You write to find out what you believe, or what you can afford to believe.”

9) “[I]f you live in a culture which is fascinated by the myth of the artist, and the idea that the vocational artistic life is one of the best lives available, then there’s always going to be a temptation for people who are suffering to believe that to become an artist would be the solution when, in fact, it may be more of the problem. There are a number of people whom you might think of as casualties of the myth of the artist. They really should have done something else. Of course some people get lucky and find that art works for them, but for so many people it doesn’t. I think that needs to be included in the picture. Often one hears or reads accounts in which people will say, Well, he may have treated his children, wives, friends terribly, but look at the novels, the poems, the paintings. I think it’s a terrible equation. Obviously one can’t choose to be, as it were, a good parent or a good artist, but if the art legitimates cruelty, I think the art is not worth having. People should be doing everything they can to be as kind as possible and to enjoy each other’s company. Any art, any anything, that helps us do that is worth having. But if it doesn’t, it isn’t.’

Such a good read.

(Update: my friend Mark Larson has a great AdamPhillips tag.)

Jun 17, 2014
Permalink
I had never had any desire to be a writer. I wanted to be a reader.

Jun 05, 2014
Permalink

Read at whim!

Slate recently ran a piece by writer Ruth Graham on adults reading YA fiction with the subheading, “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.” Graham probably didn’t write that subhead, but she did write this:

My own fuddy-duddy opinion: Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.

Me personally, I read TFIOS and loved it and cried and didn’t feel embarrassed about it, but then, I wrote a whole section in Show Your Work! dedicated to guilty pleasures:

We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage, because what makes us unique is the diversity and breadth of our influences, the unique ways in which we mix up the parts of culture others have deemed “high” and the “low.”

When you find things you genuinely enjoy, don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about it. Don’t feel guilty about the pleasure you take in the things you enjoy. Celebrate them.

But my friend Alan Jacobs, who wrote a brilliant book called The Pleasures of Reading In An Age of Distraction, posted a series of tweets that really nailed it:

One: YA is a marketing category, not a critical category that offers meaningful description. Widely varied things get thrown into it.

Two: 90% of so-called YA is crap. But then (Sturgeon’s Law) 90% of everything is crap. Ditto for romance, mystery, & “literary fiction.”

Three: So the real logic of @publicroad’s argument is: don’t read crap. The YA designator is a red herring.

Four: But see, a small percentage of what gets called YA is really, really good fiction. (Ditto all other categories, per earlier tweet.)

Five: Moreover, we tend to call something YA if it deals with young people’s experience from their PV. But that’s a really important part of human experience that, as @arrroberts has pointed, “literary fiction” tends to overlook

Six: So, if we have to do “should read” (shudder), I’d say: Go ahead and read YA, but you should look for the good stuff.

Seven: But let me rinse my mouths of those “shoulds” and say again: READ AT WHIM.

READ AT WHIM!

Mar 06, 2014
Permalink
Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know.

Feb 21, 2014
Permalink
The Happy Writer’s Flowchart

ayjay:

in response to Austin Kleon’s Miserable Artist Flowchart

This is great. Highly recommend Alan’s The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, btw.

The Happy Writer’s Flowchart

ayjay:

in response to Austin Kleon’s Miserable Artist Flowchart

This is great. Highly recommend Alan’s The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, btw.

Feb 20, 2014
Permalink

Little Free Libraries

This morning I stuck copies of Show Your Work! in Little Free Libraries around my neighborhood.

What is a Little Free Library?

It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!

Check out the #littlefreelibrary tag on Instagram.

Feb 12, 2014
Permalink
Adam Sternbergh, Shovel Ready

This was a lot of fun. Call it a terse, sci-fi hard-boiled noir: Ex-garbageman turned hit man in a post dirtybomb NYC protects a damsel-in-distress. Nice doses of humor, too.

Books like this are like a big fat reset button for my reading habits: when I’m stuck on boring books, they get me going again, turning pages.

I’ve followed Sternbergh’s writing for a few years, and it’s cool to read this after reading all his essays circling around the idea of “trash” and genre.

Last week, he published this essay on “guilty pleasures,” lamenting the point at which he stopped reading books for pleasure, and started reading books because he should. (Today I posted my own excerpt from my new book: “No More Guilty Pleasures.”) He writes: “This year, I’m making a simple resolution… I’m going to banish the word “should” from my cultural vocabulary.” (This is an attitude I’d first run into from Jonathan Lethem and then fully embraced when I read Alan Jacobs: “Read at whim! Read what gives you delight—at least most of the time—and do so without shame.”)

Here’s Sternberg debating A.O. Scott’s notion of “strained pulp”:


  This observation about “strained pulp” really struck me — in part because so much of what I love falls precisely in this category: knowing, sophisticated attempts to replicate pleasures that were once widely disdained. I like Soderbergh’s genre films like “Haywire” and “The Limey”; I like Michael Chabon’s self-consciously pulpy novel, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”; heck, I liked “Drive.”


What’s interesting is that it seems to have taken him a while to get around to “write what you like”:


  I was probably doing what I was habitually and temperamentally inclined to do in the presence of book editors, which was mumble some half-baked ideas for nonfiction books that I thought might be commercially appealing, but which, upon further reflection, I’d realize I didn’t even want to read, let alone write. You recognized this, and forcefully reiterated the question: No, Adam—what do you want to write? At which point I think I mumbled, even more sheepishly, something like: “Well, I’d like to write fiction.”


Just as there’s that leap of getting over what you feel like you should be reading and reading what you want to be reading, there’s that leap of getting over what you feel like you should be writing, and what you want to be writing. All fiction is fan fiction. Michael Chabon in Maps and Legends:


  All literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeneid onward, is fan fiction….Through parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us and that we have come of age loving—amateurs—we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence, have left for us, hoping to pass on to our own readers—should we be lucky enough to find any—some of the pleasure that we ourselves have taken in the stuff that we love: to get in on the game. All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.


Anyways, thumbs up.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Adam Sternbergh, Shovel Ready

This was a lot of fun. Call it a terse, sci-fi hard-boiled noir: Ex-garbageman turned hit man in a post dirtybomb NYC protects a damsel-in-distress. Nice doses of humor, too.

Books like this are like a big fat reset button for my reading habits: when I’m stuck on boring books, they get me going again, turning pages.

I’ve followed Sternbergh’s writing for a few years, and it’s cool to read this after reading all his essays circling around the idea of “trash” and genre.

Last week, he published this essay on “guilty pleasures,” lamenting the point at which he stopped reading books for pleasure, and started reading books because he should. (Today I posted my own excerpt from my new book: “No More Guilty Pleasures.”) He writes: “This year, I’m making a simple resolution… I’m going to banish the word “should” from my cultural vocabulary.” (This is an attitude I’d first run into from Jonathan Lethem and then fully embraced when I read Alan Jacobs: “Read at whim! Read what gives you delight—at least most of the time—and do so without shame.”)

Here’s Sternberg debating A.O. Scott’s notion of “strained pulp”:

This observation about “strained pulp” really struck me — in part because so much of what I love falls precisely in this category: knowing, sophisticated attempts to replicate pleasures that were once widely disdained. I like Soderbergh’s genre films like “Haywire” and “The Limey”; I like Michael Chabon’s self-consciously pulpy novel, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”; heck, I liked “Drive.”

What’s interesting is that it seems to have taken him a while to get around to “write what you like”:

I was probably doing what I was habitually and temperamentally inclined to do in the presence of book editors, which was mumble some half-baked ideas for nonfiction books that I thought might be commercially appealing, but which, upon further reflection, I’d realize I didn’t even want to read, let alone write. You recognized this, and forcefully reiterated the question: No, Adam—what do you want to write? At which point I think I mumbled, even more sheepishly, something like: “Well, I’d like to write fiction.”

Just as there’s that leap of getting over what you feel like you should be reading and reading what you want to be reading, there’s that leap of getting over what you feel like you should be writing, and what you want to be writing. All fiction is fan fiction. Michael Chabon in Maps and Legends:

All literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeneid onward, is fan fiction….Through parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us and that we have come of age loving—amateurs—we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence, have left for us, hoping to pass on to our own readers—should we be lucky enough to find any—some of the pleasure that we ourselves have taken in the stuff that we love: to get in on the game. All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.

Anyways, thumbs up.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Subscribe to my newsletter and get new art, writing, and interesting links delivered to your inbox every week.