If you’ve ever heard that literary skill is synonymous with a good memory, you’ve likely bemoaned your own forgetfulness, especially when it comes to important things. Tim Parks felt the same way, until he read a new book on forgetting, which led him to wonder how much knowledge we can retain. In The New York Review of Books, he tackles the paradox of the reader’s memory. You could also read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of Parks’s book Italian Ways.
A new anthology out from Da Capo Press, Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book, includes an essay by David Foster Wallace’s widow, Karen Green, on how books helped her cope with his death: “I’ll try not to use the word survive. I think I’ve determined, by trial and error, that certain underlined, highlighted, and dog-eared books, in conjunction with pharmaceuticals, are beneficial after a trauma. What was it the realtor called it? ‘The Incident.’ Books can be helpful after an Incident.” (Thanks, Diavanna)
Cookbooks, in general, are resistant to close reading, if only because their authors are barely present in the text, if at all. Yet sometimes we can discern a personality through the measurements and shopping lists. At Page-Turner, Kathleen Alcott reads the cookbooks of Nigel Slater. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen on reading cookbooks as literature.