What does your brain look like when you read a Jane Austen novel? One group of Stanford researches is using an MRI machine to find out.
In the Prospect, an essay on anesthesia, 3D printing, teleportation, LSD, and other thought experiments on self-awareness. Also, this line: “If the spectrum of selfhood begins with the roundworm, surely it ends with Proust.”
Out this week: Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt; The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome by Serge Brussolo; Weathering by Lucy Wood; Remains by Jesús Castillo; and What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell (which we reviewed). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
“Guilt and a feeling of never being satisfied with what you’ve done. And a sense that you are inadequate and a big phony. All useful for a writer. I’m always being edited by my inner nun.” An interview with the inimitable George Saunders, author of Tenth of December, on his approach to humor. Pair with: our own reviews of his stories.
Slate books and culture columnist Laura Miller looks at what this year’s bestseller list tells us about 2017. One of her conclusions, “2017 was the year that the very concept of a best-seller became even more dubious.” After reading her analysis, check out our Year in Reading lists, whose authors found joy in reading and viewed it as one of the few good things of this year, even if the bestsellers of the year didn’t reflect those feelings.