Google has launched a new search filter to its “advanced search page” that allows people to sort content based on reading level — basic, intermediate, or advanced. Google thinks The Millions lands in the middle. Search your website using the feature to see how Google rates it. (Disclaimer: we can’t see any rhyme or reason to their ratings.) (Update for you visitors from Gawker: If this Google business bores you – and lets be honest, it’s not that exciting – stick around and check out our much more scintillating Year in Reading series, featuring Margaret Atwood, John Banville, Sam Lipsyte and all manner of literary luminaries.)
“Putin, like Hitler, understood that the purpose of spectacles is to dazzle the eye while clouding the mind.” For the Daily Beast, staff writer Bill Morris writes about the thuggish dictators who love the propaganda of the World Cup. (If you haven’t already checked out our list of seven great soccer reads, do it now!)
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.
If you’ve ever heard that literary skill is synonymous with a good memory, you’ve likely bemoaned your own forgetfulness, especially when it comes to important things. Tim Parks felt the same way, until he read a new book on forgetting, which led him to wonder how much knowledge we can retain. In The New York Review of Books, he tackles the paradox of the reader’s memory. You could also read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of Parks’s book Italian Ways.