“When we read a book that requires that effort — when the act of reading becomes rigorous and self-aware, rather than effortless and transparent — we get to have a history with what we’ve given ourselves to, a history etched into us by the demanding friction of its difficulty.” Zoë Heller and Leslie Jamison debate whether or not we overvalue difficult literature in The New York Times.
Among Jorge Luis Borges’s observations about soccer were the following: “Soccer is popular because stupidity is popular;” soccer is “aesthetically ugly;” and “soccer is one of England’s biggest crimes.” That is to say: his distaste is well documented. But why did he feel this way? Millions contributor Shaj Mathew takes a look.
True James Joyce fans don’t need to be reminded that today, June 16th, is the 110th Bloomsday–the day of Leopold Bloom’s fictional wanderings-about-Dublin commemorated in the 732 pages of Ulysses. Though the most traditional way to celebrate Bloomsday may be to follow in his literal footsteps with your own tour of the city, as the Paris Review explains, there’s more than one way to prove your love for Joyce even if you never read his book.
Over at Words Without Borders, Esther Allen considers how to translate a song. As she puts it, “A song that almost everyone in a given culture at a given moment knows is a unique cultural artifact, a crystallized collective experience, a profound trigger that sets off a complex string of shared emotions.” Pair with Magdalena Edwards’s Millions essay on songs as triggers.
If Fantasy Football is football for people who don’t like dirt or concussions, here’s a Fantasy Football for people who don’t like football. Book Riot has the details, which involve tracking your favorite authors’ career highlights much like an athlete’s: “publishes a book,” sure, but also “appears in another author’s book trailer,” “fatwa issued against author,” and “dies.” Our own Edan Lepucki makes the Rookies bracket, but, please–no fatwas just to win.