The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself
But there are pleasures to be had from books beyond being lightly entertained. There is the pleasure of being challenged; the pleasure of feeling one’s range and capacities expanding; the pleasure of entering into an unfamiliar world, and being led into empathy with a consciousness very different from one’s own; the pleasure of knowing what others have already thought it worth knowing, and entering a larger conversation.
Readers’ Night Out
This was New York’s third monthly silent-reading party. … Partiers bring whatever books they like, stay as long as they want, and aren’t allowed to speak to the other people in the room.
(From The New Yorker Page-Turner Blog, May 24, 2014)
You Should Seriously Read “Stoner” Right Now
As a fictional hero, William Stoner will have to dwell in obscurity forever. But that, too, is our destiny. Our most profound acts of virtue and vice, of heroism and villainy, will be known by only those closest to us and forgotten soon enough. Even our deepest feelings will, for the most part, lay concealed within the vault of our hearts. Much of the reason we construct garish fantasies of fame is to distract ourselves from these painful truths. We confess so much to so many, as if by these disclosures we might escape the terror of confronting our hidden selves. What makes “Stoner” such a radical work of art is that it portrays this confrontation not as a tragedy, but the essential source of our redemption.
(From New York Times, May 11, 2014)
I read Stoner back in 2009, and here’s the review I wrote at the time:
“A moving story, but also awfully depressing. I had a hard time continuing on at points, especially when the author made it so clear that better things could have happened. After following the main character through his life though, I was sad to see how it all came to an end.”
Perhaps I’ll re-read it sometime, especially after reading this piece about it. I just don’t know if I need something potentially depressing right now.
The Not So Horrible Consequences of Reading Banned Books
A new study of Texas teens found no connection between reading edgy books and mental health issues or delinquent behavior.
From The Catcher in the Rye to The Color Purple, countless books have been banned from school libraries over the years, usually because parents or administrators fear they somehow could be harmful to kids. Well, new research suggests these volumes may indeed have an impact on young, malleable minds.
A positive impact.
(From Pacific Standard, April 10, 2014)
How true should historical fiction be?
“From Hilary Mantel to Andrew Miller to Philippa Gregory, historical fiction is enjoying a boom. But novelists are storytellers, not history teachers, argues Stephanie Merritt”
(From The Guardian Books Blog, March 19, 2014)
Personally, I think historical fiction should aim to be as accurate as is reasonable within the format, and that authors writing in this genre should do some research into the era and/or people portrayed.
Obviously, I don’t expect a perfect representation of actual historical events, like an exact transcript, and I do expect some embellishment and poetic license. But making the setting, characters, and even language true to the time period help paint the picture and keep you in the story.
There’s no jot of shame in leaving the books on your shelf unread
“A survey has found that half of an average home’s 138 books go unread. I’m surprised it is as low as a half. Books aren’t meant to be read “
(From The Telegraph, March 6, 2014)
Study: Reading Literary Fiction Can Make You Less Racist
“The benefits of reading literary fiction are many, ranging from making us more comfortable with ambiguity to honing our ability to pick up on the emotional states of others. Newly published research adds yet another positive outcome to that list: It can make us at least a little less racist.”
(From Pacific Standard, March 10, 2014)