Move over, “GIF.” (Or, more accurately: animate yourself away from us in an unending loop.) There’s a new Oxford Dictionaries word of the year. Enter, “selfie,” a word of Australian origin that describes an ostensibly new “digital affair, [that’s actually] a novel iteration of an old form: the self-portrait.” (They even come with overarching themes of mortality.)
Over at Catapult, Benjamin Wood writes about his eulogy for his grandfather, which led to his writing of The Ecliptic. As he puts it, “Or maybe, in this time of grieving, I was thinking only with my heart until my head began to listen. Today, it seems as though the entirety of The Ecliptic was held within my consciousness before I ever glimpsed a piece of it, and grief was what enabled me to notice.” Pair with Nagihan Haliloğlu’s Millions review of the novel.
A couple weeks ago, our own Janet Potter reviewed Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, a new book which examines the rise of public shaming on social media. In the Times, Ronson takes part in the paper’s By the Book series, several entries of which we’ve written about before. Among other things, he recommends The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Violence by James Gilligan.
“If Do-It-Yourself culture continues to gain appeal as fast as climate change lays on the chaos, we will need to look to the hinterlands for both practical guidance and hints about the fashions of the future. I recently watched Werner Herzog’s 2010 documentary (directed in collaboration with Dmitry Vasyukov) Happy People, which follows a few Siberian fur trappers over the course of a year, and let me tell you: when Celsius and Fahrenheit converge, Gennady of Bakhtia does not waste his time tossing boiling water into the air just to see what happens.” On surviving the next polar vortex.
“[L]overs of more experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives but it was comedy fans who scored the highest for relating to others.” A new study suggests that people who read books are nicer, reports The Independent. In our recent interview with author John Vaillant he wholly agreed. “Empathy is what gives you the access,” he told us. “I see the writer (fiction or nonfiction) as a kind of permeable membrane through which the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others can pass and manifest.”