Annie Murphy Paul looks to neuroscience to understand the pleasure of the written word.
“Adolf Hitler loved books—that nasty bent for book burning notwithstanding—and the book industry loves him back. Type his name into Amazon, and while he doesn’t trigger the English-language numbers of Jesus (186,740) or Lincoln (70,710), he registers a solid 18,597—a stunning figure for someone who died less than 70 years ago.” On the Fuhrer’s paradoxical relationship with literature.
If you read my Year In Reading, and if you’re a really impulsive person, you probably already subscribed to The Virginia Quarterly Review. However if you needed more than just my testimonial in order to open up your wallet, perhaps their official list of “The Best Writing in VQR in 2012” will sway you.
“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.