Recommended Reading: An excerpt from Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster at n+1. Read more about Alexievich at The Millions.
History’s 10 best prison breaks.A Paid Content column argues that the true genius of the Kindle is that it breaks the trend toward multi-tasking……But there is still a huge amount of confusion surrounding the Kindle’s DRM policies.AbeBooks aggregates some summer reading lists.VQR compiles a brief reading list for those following the post-election protests in Iran.Bay Area readers: Conversational Reading is taking a page from The Millions playbook and hosting a San Francisco indie bookstore walking tour. Sounds fun!
Journalist and author Simon Winchester highlights five books “that shed light on the social history of his adopted homeland, from the late 19th century to the Great Depression.” We’re pleased to see Millions Hall-of-Famer Stoner make the cut.
We all probably had the humiliating experience of reciting a poem in high school. Yet at Salon, Nina Kang believes that memorizing poetry is a lost art. She blames the loss of the discipline on our tendency to skim and new poetry’s seeming aversion to memorization. “Writers actively fight against the appearance of artifice, and often instead strive for an informal, offhand tone, with that hint of clumsiness that lends a certain authenticity to the voice. It turns out this is a quality that makes the reciter’s job that much more difficulty.” Here’s our take on the lost art of recitation.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of David Foster Wallace‘s Infinite Jest. To celebrate, Little, Brown is holding a cover design contest, with a $1,000 grand prize. Also, you know, the pride of seeing Infinite Jest published in your cover. Whatever, no big deal.
In the spring of 2006, John Unsworth taught a graduate seminar on “Twentieth-Century American Bestsellers.” It led to one of history’s finest class projects–a browsable database of bestsellers, 337 in all. As with any bestseller lists, you’ll find a range of titles, everything from Thomas Wolfe to Tom Clancy, but click through and find that each entry includes an extremely detailed description of the book’s history (these were compiled by graduate students, after all); a mini-essay on its reception; images of covers, page layouts, and even some ads; and more. It is, in short, bibliophilic crack. (Thanks Craig)
The Virginia Quarterly Review‘s Fall 2011 issue, “The Soviet Ghost“, is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou’s heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov’s essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol’ fashioned KGB crime story.