According to Smithsonian Magazine, Buzzfeed is the mortal enemy of the highbrow Lapham’s Quarterly. Regardless of which source of media you side with in the rivalry, it’s worth reading through their profile of Lewis Lapham.
“There are people who believe that readers and writers—at least the right kind of readers and writers—are special snowflakes, existing on a more exalted plane than mere mortals. Book people are educated. They are privileged. They are brave enough to speak out when the emperor shows up naked. They sup on nectar from flowers grown on the sunny slopes of Mount Olympus, harvested by chiton-wearing MFA candidates.” Jennifer Weiner responds to bad Amazon reviews, book blogs, and elitist ” book people” in an essay for The New Republic. We especially enjoy the line about the chitons.
“Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make “best of” lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year.” This might help to explain the logic and intent of our own Year in Reading series, but it also prefaces Electric Literature‘s list of the top 25 story collections of 2014 (which includes recent Year in Reading alum Phil Klay‘s Redeployment).
If you’re like me, you probably assumed you’d never read the phrase “George Saunders in O, the Oprah Magazine”, but this is where his latest piece has turned up. As part of a creative way of presenting a list of books to read, the author imagines what reading material he’d give to an alien who wants to know what it’s like to be human. For more on his work, go read our own Elizabeth Minkel on his legacy and recent collection.