A handy infographic explaining why PBS, in the face of a resolution in Congress to eliminate its federal funding, deserves our support.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Americans are reading fewer books than they were back in 2014. A whopping twenty-eight percent of those surveyed reported not having finished even a single book in the past year, though the average number of books read per person last year remained at fourteen. For a little more in moderation lit, here’s an essay from The Millions on reading fewer books.
What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
Out this week: The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman; The Kills by Richard House; When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney; Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore; The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer; Ride Around Shining by Chris Leslie-Hynan; Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks; The Liar’s Wife by Mary Gordon; The Dog by Jack Livings; Bluff City Pawn by Stephen Schottenfeld; Beneath the Neon Egg by Thomas E. Kennedy; 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino; and Bad Feminist by Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay, who also came out with a novel a few months ago.
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
How can we not link to this? Mickey Hess creates a mock-Millions essay in refashioning Cathy Day’s essay about “the novel problem” in MFA programs as “The Light-Bulb Filament Problem: 7 Thoughts on Academia’s Sheet Metal Crisis.” Clever response to the ongoing MFA debate or just plain silly?
In which Jami Attenberg (whose forthcoming The Middlesteins made it to our big 2012 second half books preview) discusses the outright mockery of Jeffrey Eugenides’s pseudo-famous vest in the web advertising campaign (which–full disclosure–also ran on The Millions) for Jennifer Weiner’s The Next Best Thing: “Hit Me with Your Vest Shot.”