Though the world may never know whether reading the greats makes you a better person, according to a recent study, those who take an active interest in the arts are more likely to be altruistic.
Chances are you’ve heard that in a recent interview, Claire Messud responded to a patronizing question about one of her characters -- “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” -- by giving her interviewer a smackdown that resonated across the blogosphere. At Page-Turner, several authors (including Rivka Galchen, Jonathan Franzen and Year in Reading alumna Margaret Atwood) offer their own takes on the matter of "likeability." (There's also this piece by our own Emily St. John Mandel to consider.)
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”
New this week are Ron Rash's The Cove, Brian Evenson's Immobility, and Volume Two of Susan Sontag's Journals (all books highlighted in our January preview). Out in paperback this week is David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, from which we recently ran a previously unpublished excerpt.