On Why College Professors Don’t Envy the Young, at the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Our love of The Atlantic‘s By Heart series continues with Azar Nafisi‘s contribution to the series: an essay on reading James Baldwin, the importance of literature to democracy, and how ultimately “we need literature to remind us how like each other we are, despite our differences.” Pair with Justin Campbell‘s Millions essay on race, fatherhood and reading Baldwin.
Free e-book bibliophiles rejoice, you now have yet another place to download public domain e-books. The Digital Reader reports on Standard Ebooks, a volunteer-based project to “produce a collection of high quality, carefully formatted, accessible, open source, and free public domain ebooks that meet or exceed the quality of commercially produced ebooks.” Pair with our post from a decade back about Project Gutenberg’s pubbing of “2 B R 0 2 B,” a “lost” story by Kurt Vonnegut.
“Set in the 2020s and 2030s in a collapsing and crashed America, the Parables books have always seemed incredibly and disturbingly prescient—and in the wake of November 8, 2016 they now seem downright spooky, the actual and accurate history of the future.” How Octavia Butler predicted the present. See also: our consideration of Butler’s novel Kindred.
According to The Secret Literary Life of Augusto Pinochet author Cristóbal Peña, the Chilean dictator “was tormented by an intense inferiority complex, which he tried to deal with by collecting books.” A recent article in The New York Times provides a look at that book collection, which totaled around 50,000 books and has been valued at around $3 million.
Recommended (Long) Reading: This lengthy excerpt from the latest book in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series. In it, Knausgaard is introduced to the literary world and stresses a great deal over his own claims to artistic merit: “Deep down, I was decent and proper, a goody-goody, and, I thought, perhaps that was also why I couldn’t write. I wasn’t wild enough, not artistic enough, in short, much too normal for my writing to take off. What had made me believe anything else? Oh, but this was the life-lie.”
John McWhorter, linguist and author of What Language is (And What it Isn’t and What it Could Be), takes a look at the history of spoken and written language in an effort to understand how text messaging, IMs, and other informal forms of written language impact literacy.