There’s a lot of (justified) talk about the power of reading, but simply owning a book can be meaningful. Mabel Rosenheck considers Walter Benjamin‘s perspective on book ownership – “[it] is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them.” – and her own experiences with book collecting in San Francisco in an essay for The Toast. Pair with Anne Fadiman‘s essay on relationships, books, and relationships with books, “Marrying Libraries.”
The Canadian writer Mavis Gallant passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 91. A frequent New Yorker contributor, Gallant published two novels and ten volumes of short fiction in her lifetime, one of which, Home Truths, won the Governor General’s Award. The Globe and Mail’s obituary describes her as having “a journalist’s nose, a cinematographer’s eye and a novelist’s imagination.” (Andrew Saikali wrote about Gallant for The Millions back in 2008.)
Haruki Murakami’s latest (which we reviewed) is out this week, as is a new edition of Augustus, the 1973 National Book Award winner by Stoner author John Williams. Also out: Friendswood by Rene Steinke; The Lotus and the Storm by Lan Cao; Before, During, After by Richard Bausch; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; and Your Face In Mine by Jess Row (which I wrote about for our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview).
Since 2003, Spain has seen its “average number of regular readers” climb from 47% (one of the three lowest in the EU) to 60%. During that time, writes Alasdair Fotheringham, the number of library borrowers in the various parts of the country has risen between 50 and 150%. Yet in spite of this burgeoning trend, library budgets are still at risk of further austerity cuts. Meanwhile, almost the exact same thing is happening in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.
“As for the charge that [Constance] Garnett writes in an outdated language, yes, here and there she uses words and phrases that no one uses today, but not many of them. We find the same sprinkling of outdated words and phrases in the novels of Trollope and Dickens and George Eliot. Should they, too, be rewritten for modern sensibilities? (Would u really want that?)” It’s shaping up to be a day of passionate defenses. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Janet Malcom urges readers to put down their Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Russian classics and pick Constance Garnett’s back up again.