Articles lamenting the supposed death of reading tend to include a gripe that we now spend too much time on the Internet. However, as those of you who read a lot of books and live partially on the Internet are aware, the two activities aren’t mutually exclusive. NPR’s Morning Edition has a new story (which includes our own Janet Potter discussing her rewriting of classic novel titles as click-bait headlines) about the intersection between the lit world and the meme world.
When John Steinbeck wasn’t busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. “The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages,” he wrote to an agent.
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.
We thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of David Naimon‘s Between the Covers podcast featuring Whiting-Award winner Tyehimba Jess. The conversation centers on Jess’s latest book, Olio, a tour de force hybrid-genre exploration of African-American performers from the period just before the American Civil War through World War I. (Previously: We recommended Jess’s Leadbelly as perfect reading for train travel.)
Get ready for the return of Breaking Bad by reading Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu in the LARB, and also by reading Max Rivlin-Nadler’s piece in The Nation. Or, if you want to take a walk down memory lane, check out Chuck Klosterman’s piece from last year in which he convincingly argued that Walter White’s odyssey makes for best drama on television. Lastly, here’s some good news for those among you who subscribe to DirectTV and are thus locked out of AMC: you can stream tonight’s episode on the company’s website.
Read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s acceptance speech for the Welt Literaturpreis, an annual prize awarded by the German newspaper Die Welt, at The New Yorker. He writes, “The difference between engaging with a real neighbor and one in a novel is that the former occurs in the social sphere, within the boundaries of its rules and practical constraints, whereas the latter occurs outside of it, in the reader’s own most private, intimate sphere, where the rules that govern our social interaction do not apply and its practical constraints do not exist.” You could also check out Knausgaard’s book excerpt at The Millions.