Don’t blame Amazon or Goodreads for authors writing rave reviews of their own work. Writers have been self-promoting since the 1700s, when it was called “puffery.” As Nicholas Mason writes for Symposium Magazine, “Nearly every British writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries either participated in or benefitted from ginned-up book reviews.” The list of puffed up authors includes Mary Wollstonecraft, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.
Hanya Yanagihara, the author of A Little Life, writes on reenacting a version of John Cheever’s short story “The Swimmer” by swimming across Martha’s Vineyard. As she explains it, “Swimming in the ocean is writing a novel; swimming in a pond is writing in a diary.” Pair with Nick Ripatrazone’s Millions essay on Cheever’s classic story.
For all typography enthusiasts and lovers of browser plugins: Chrome has a new extension, FontFace Ninja, that will tell you the font of any text on any webpage.
Freedom the program might not actually be so freeing: “It has been argued that a chronic fever of distraction and fascination arrives on waves of Wi-Fi to stunt our attention spans, encouraging writers to paddle about, tweeting and liking, instead of striking out for deeper waters…” But maybe writers need distraction, after all. (Then again: a detox might do you good.)