With the advent of e-readers, books on the subway are getting harder and harder to spot. It takes dedication to get a sense of what people are reading these days. At The Awl, Ben Dolnick sets out to catalogue a week’s worth of sightings, which included a man reading Cloud Atlas and The Stranger and a teenage girl reading Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. You could also read our own Nick Moran on the question of whether e-readers are really green.
The Cambridge University Press just published The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 2. (Vol. 1 can be found here.) That alone is worth your time, but as an added bonus the Press’ blog has compiled a partial syllabus for the author — a sampling of the titles “on the writer’s nightstand … from 1941 to 1956.”
Out this week: Another Night, Another Day by Sarah Rayner; Ground Zero, Nagasaki by Seirai Yuichi and Mayakovsky: A Biography by Bengt Jangfeldt. For more on these and other great titles from this year, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.”
As you may have heard, Twitter went public last week, which means a lot of people are trying to figure out just what its IPO means for social media. Over at n+1, Benjamin Kunkel proposes that social media, by its very nature, cannot be profitable, and thus should be administered by the state as a public good.
You may have heard that Alice Munro couldn’t make it to Sweden to accept this year’s Nobel prize. Instead, she made a video, which you can watch in full on the Nobel Prize committee’s website. (You could also read Ben Dolnick’s beginner’s guide to her work, or else read my essay on the meaning of her win.) (h/t The Paris Review)