Libraries, if they hope to survive in the digital age, should do away with physical books and become sites of physical interaction instead, argues David A. Bell. For a starkly contrasting opinion, see Charles Petersen’s critique of the NYPL’s plans to do just what Bell recommends.
“Many writers write vexed introspection, or detail-oriented reporting, or counterintuitive cultural commentary, or lifestyle journalism. But so far only Didion has done all four in perfect synthesis, a prose that, at its best, can fire on every cylinder and work on multiple fields of the imagination at once.” In support of the Kickstarter project for the documentary on Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, Nathan Heller looks back over Didion’s writing career, her “imaginatively seductive” nonfiction writing and her carefully constructed confessionalism in a piece for Vogue.
Hugo Lindgren, editor of The New York Times Magazine, participated in a pretty nifty Reddit Ask Me Anything installment. When one commenter asked him how long it takes to prepare each week’s Meh List, Lindgren wrote, “The Meh list never stops. The actual compilation of it is lickety split but the hunt for Meh is eternal.” He also admitted that two of his favorite magazine stories are Mark Jacobson’s “Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet” and John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” [Reg. Req.].
Half a century ago, it would have been inconceivable to think that one day, the clack of typewriter keys would disappear from daily life. The rise of the personal computer, in Sadie Stein’s words, turned an everpresent sound into a “living anachronism.” She reflects on the value of the typewriter in a blog post for The Paris Review Daily. (It might also be a good time to read our own Bill Morris on typewriters and pen pals.)
New this week are Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance and P.D. James’ Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hangs up his acting duds to put out The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, and, speaking of tiny stories, there’s Lou Beach’s 420 Characters: “these crystalline miniature stories began as Facebook status updates.” On the nonfiction side, there’s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
“We started with just the two of us, and now it’s the largest reading community in the world.” Publishers Weekly interviewed Goodreads founders Otis Chandler and Elizabeth Khuri Chandler about the site they founded 10 years ago, which now boasts 65 million members. Check out our own Edan Lepucki on Goodreads’ humble beginnings.
In 2003, Mary Roach kicked off her book-publishing career with Stiff, a look into the lifespans (pun intended) of cadavers and the ethics of using them for study. At Lapham’s Quarterly, you’ll find the 2001 magazine article that Roach later expanded into Stiff. (Related: we interviewed Roach back in April.)