College football season is upon us, and I’d be remiss not to highlight the recent flood of fantastic writing on my favorite televised sport. Most striking is Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch‘s Atlantic article “The Shame of College Sports.” It’s accompanied by several other takes on the issue. In regards to academia, this New York Times piece on the University of Chicago’s football team demonstrates that tension between educators and football fans is nothing new. (A sentiment the paper illustrated in a 2006 piece on Ivy League football.) However, as Gregg Easterbrook notes, major football programs can also demonstrate success in the classroom as well. Finally, and on a purely emotional level, I will always seize any opportunity to share this fantastic ESPN story by Eric Adelson.
It’s time again for spring cleaning, as well as the more enjoyable spring reading. Scott Esposito at Conversational Reading is gearing up for Your Face This Spring, which will read the entire 1200 pages of Javier Marías‘s Your Face Tomorrow trilogy. And Big Other is orchestrating a group read of Flann O’Brien‘s At Swim-Two-Birds. After you finish a closet, open a book–both start next week.
Year in Reading alum Susan Orlean’s next book will be entitled The Library Book. It will be “a love letter to an endangered institution, exploring their history, their people, their meaning and their future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world.” The book will focus in particular on the unsolved 1986 razing of the Los Angeles Central Library.
What’s the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how’s the writing going? “Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready,” Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
“What is the value of a book cover if fewer and fewer people shop at bookstores?” Nicholas Blechman wonders about the purpose of the book cover at The New York Times Book Review, but he also rounds up some of the best covers of 2014, including the design for Eimear McBride‘s A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing (Millions review here, McBride’s “Year in Reading” here).