Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘reading in peril’

Shop Talk |

Banned Books Week = An Act of Censorship? Say what?

It’s currently Banned Books Week, an event sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), the American Booksellers Association, and other book- and writing-related organizations. The purpose, according to the ALA website, is “highlighting the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.” To celebrate Banned Books Week, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece by Mitchell Muncy entitled “Finding Censorship Where There Is None,” which asserts that Banned Books Week is, basically, a time for overzealous First-Amendment freaks to […]

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TriQuarterly to be Shut Down after 45 Years

Some sad news: recently, we heard that venerable literary journal TriQuarterly was transitioning to an online-only format. It’s sad enough to think that one of the oldest and most respected literary mags would no longer be in print, but there’s more to the story, as shown in this email from Ian Morris, TriQuarterly‘s associate editor: I just wanted you all know that as of spring 2010 after forty-five years TriQuarterly magazine will cease to exist. Susan Hahn and myself were notified of this fact yesterday just hours before the press release announcing the decision was sent out. After terminating TriQuarterly’s […]

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Buy a book for a public school library!

Via Jeffrey Rotter: ReadThis is a great organization “devoted to promoting access to books and reading wherever needed.” Among other projects, they helped create a library last spring for the public middle/high school Brooklyn Collegiate. Now you can help stock this library by clicking here and buying a book (chosen by the school to fill gaps) from Book Culture for for its collection. ReadThis will pay shipping, and the bookstore will donate 15% of sales for each book back to the school as a donation. In one swoop you’ll be supporting a library and an independent bookstore. Geri Ellner, Library […]

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Reading Rainbow snuffed out by short-sighted, phonics-loving imagination killers

Apparently getting kids excited about books isn’t worth funding. It’s better to focus on the “mechanics” of reading because, you know, that will definitely instill the next generation with a passion for it. **head explodes** Via NPR: The show’s [26-year] run is ending, Grant explains, because no one — not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show’s broadcast rights. Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in […]

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the used book wars

An agent once told me that if I wanted to support my fellow writers, I should never buy used books, because the author gets no royalties on re-sold copies. And while that is certainly true, this editorial in the Guardian makes an eloquent argument for why secondhand bookshops are important: [T]he best have stock that is old – an out-of-print Penguin on Imagist poets, or a Fontana reader bringing news (at least it would have been in 1981) from the sociological front – and temptingly affordable. They contain treasure, however dusty. Several commenters point out that this editorial makes no […]

Interviews |

Type type type: A Conversation with Mimi Smartypants

I don’t generally read personal blogs, partly out of an allergy to the twee self-consciousness that so easily results from self-chronicling. But when I stumbled across Mimi Smartypants’s diary a few years ago, I found that I was looking at something different from the typical navel-gazing blog. Rather, what I experience sometimes when I read her diary is that strange phenomenon that first brought me to fiction as a child, and has kept me here all these years.

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The Big-Box Retailer Book Clubs

Three Percent, a site dedicated mostly to international lit, recently featured two must-read posts — “Predatory Pricing Practices” (which includes a clip from the Colbert Report featuring Douglas Rushkoff) and “Anti-Fixed Book Price Essay” — about the predatory pricing practices that stores like WalMart are using to drive down book prices. In short, they’re employing books as loss leaders to sell other products. See also: the NY Times‘ recent article about big box retailers pushing a HUGE proportion of booksales these days and creating “bestsellers”. Could Target really be the next Oprah’s Book Club? It’s interesting to think that a […]

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four ways of looking at a novel

To answer the personal question “Do I love books, or do I love reading?” — and the larger question “In which format(s) is the book most likely to endure?” — author Ann Kirschner (Sala’s Gift) tried Dickens’s Little Dorrit in four formats: paperback, audio, iPhone, and Kindle. She discusses her impressions of each in this Chronicle of Higher Education article. Among them: the particular pleasures of audio books, why the iPhone e-reader is “a Kindle killer,” and the power of story to transcend any device. Read Little Dorrit in paperback. Listen to Little Dorrit as an audio book Read Little […]

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In Protest of Dullness, or Why I'm Glad Our President Reads Novels

This nearly week-old David Brooks op-ed is infuriating for many reasons (such as its writer’s blatant scoffing at and outright denial of–despite the current economic disaster–the notion that to run a truly successful company or country, a leader should have the prescience to realize that the world around him or her is always changing, the ability to connect with and understand that world and the people in it, and the imagination and flexibility to adjust to that world’s advancements and its people’s diverse and changing needs), but in the name of this website and our shared passion for fiction, dear […]

Essays |

Drawing a Line in the Sand: Literature and Today’s Market

I do not fear for literature, which has endured purges of all kinds, the death of the novel, the irrelevance of poetry, centuries without general literacy, and every other threat that has been hurled its way. Enough people hold it dear, and it is intrinsic enough to the human identity, for it to survive whatever problems plague it now. But I do fear for those young writers whose primary teaching in their craft is market-centered rather than literature-centered.