We like big books and we cannot lie. But are books just continuing to get longer and longer? A new survey of bestsellers has concluded that the average book is now 25% bigger than its counterpart fifteen years ago. The Guardian investigates. Mark O’Connell at The Millions has his own theory about long books.
The headliners this week are on the non-fiction side: Michael Pollan’s Cooked and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. Also new in non-fiction: Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by the Times’ Brian Stelter and Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. In fiction: The Humanity Project by Jean Thompson, The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard, Paris by Edward Rutherfurd, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, and The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley.
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
Sarah Fay, associate editor of The Paris Review, has a piece in The Atlantic on the digitization of book reviewing, framed beautifully by references to George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Confessions of a Book Reviewer.” She praises Bookslut, Nancy Pearl, Goodreads, and The Los Angeles Review of Books for their collective skills of recommendation, reviewing, and New Criticism. I’d add The Quarterly Conversation, The Rumpus, The New Inquiry, The Morning News (for their annual Tournament of Books feature), and of course, The Millions.