How to Read Like a President

Essay – How to Read Like a President –
“You can tell a lot about a president — or a presidential candidate — by what he reads, or says he reads,” declares Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, in this essay in the New York Times.

After discussing both John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s favorite books, Meacham concludes:

McCain and Obama are so different in so many ways, but they do share one thing: a kind of tragic sensibility. Judging from the books they cite as most important, they embrace hope but recognize the reality that life is unlikely to conform to our wishes.

Will knowing about each candidate’s favorite books influence how you vote next Tuesday?

R.I.P., Tony Hillerman

Here are two retrospectives on Tony Hillerman:

Tony Hillerman, Novelist, Dies at 83

Tony Hillerman, Novelist, Dies at 83 – Obituary (Obit) –

The Associated Press has reported the death of novelist Tony Hillerman,”whose lyrical, authentic and compelling mystery novels set among the Navajos of the Southwest blazed innovative trails in the American detective story,” according to New York Times reviewer Marilyn Stasio.

Robert Jordan, Hemingway’s Bipartisan Hero : NPR

Robert Jordan, Hemingway’s Bipartisan Hero : NPR:

Barack Obama and John McCain don’t agree on much, but they apparently agree on this:

They’re fierce political opponents, but it turns out that the presidential candidates do agree on a literary matter: Each man picks Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls as a favorite.

Annie Proulx no longer at home on the range

Annie Proulx no longer at home on the range – Los Angeles Times:

“I wish I’d never written it,” prize-winning author Annie Proulx says of her most famous story, “Brokeback Mountain,” which was made into a popular movie.

Now Proulx, age 73, who “has often criticized the literary establishment for knowing nothing about what goes on in America outside its cities,” is ready to move from the Wyoming land that has figured prominently in much of her work.

American Publishers and Foreign Languages at the Frankfurt Book Fair

American Publishers and Foreign Languages at the Frankfurt Book Fair –

As a follow-up to several previous posts about the recent announcement of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Motoko Rich, writing from the Frankfurt Book Fair, explains why most Americans had never heard of the winner:

Although there are exceptions among the big publishing houses, the editors from the United States are generally more likely to bid on other hyped American or British titles than to look for new literature in the international halls.

According to Chad W. Post, the director of Open Letter, a new press based at the University of Rochester that focuses exclusively on books in translation, 330 works of foreign literature — or a little more than 2 percent of the estimated total of 15,000 titles released — have been published in the United States so far this year.

A week before the Nobel Prize announcement, Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the organization that awards the Nobel Prize, explained why the prize did not go to an American:

‘The U.S. is too isolated, too insular,’ Mr. Engdahl said in an interview with The Associated Press. ‘They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature.’

One French publisher told Rich, “American publishers are depriving the American readership of the cultural diversity through translation to which they are entitled.”

The Best Foreign Books You’ve Never Heard Of : NPR

The Best Foreign Books You’ve Never Heard Of : NPR:

French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won the Nobel Prize for literature Thursday. If most Americans have never heard of this accomplished author of more than 30 novels, essays and story collections, perhaps it’s because there is so little emphasis on international books in the U.S. publishing world.

The reason why most Americans had never heard of the latest Nobel Prize winner for literature is that only about 3% of the books published in the U.S. are works that have been translated.

To remedy that situation, this piece ends with a list of some of the best foreign authors compiled by David Kipen, director of Literature and National Reading Initiatives at the National Endowment for the Arts.

A whale of a debate over ‘Moby Dick’

A whale of a debate over ‘Moby Dick’ |

Please, spare us any more giant mammal jokes! Here in Massachusetts we’ve had to listen to every possible commentator refer to it as a ‘whale of a debate,’ but, after a lively discussion in our state House of Representatives we are now a step closer to having a new ‘official state epic novel.’

That would be ‘Moby Dick‘, Herman Melville’s 1851 classic.

The original request, made by the state representative from Pittsfield, where Moby-Dick was written, was for the novel to become the official state book. But that proposal met with opposition by the representative from Concord, home of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott.

Personally, I’m more concerned about the defending World Series champion Red Sox, who are now down 3 games to 1 in a best-of-seven series to determine who plays in this year’s World Series.

Note to Comment Spammers

Comments are not automatically posted; I have to manually approve each one. Any comment that is not substantively related to the topic of the original post will not be approved, so it will do you no good to submit a list of bogus links here.

While it is certainly a tedious task for me to go through a long list of spam comments and delete each one, I assure you that is what I will continue to do.

Sunday Summary

I’m working on a research proposal for school right now. As exhilarating as it is to be getting near working on my dissertation, this phase is very time-consuming. Consequently, I’m resorting to a summary list of the tabs I’ve left open in my browser for far too long in hopes of being able to write a separate post about each one.

Can e-books win global appeal?

This very short piece in the Christian Science Monitor links to two articles in foreign newspapers that discuss e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle and Sony’s digital Reader.

Reading Shouldn’t Be a Numbers Game

In this opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times librarian Regina Powers laments a trend she’s noticed:

Although I am elated that many families are visiting my public library more frequently because schools send them, I am disturbed at how infrequently parents and teachers are allowing young readers to choose what to read.

During the summer, children were excited about reading because, freed from school requirements, they decided what to read. Being able to choose their favorite author, genre or topic seemed to empower them to read more. Now with school back in session, finding a book again involves navigating through a labyrinth of point values and reading levels.

A Trilling Look at Literary Criticism

This piece in Columbia University’s campus paper Columbia Spectator discusses the work of Lionel Trilling, an iconic figure in the history of literary criticism:

Trilling, CC ’25 and GSAS ’38, was one of the most celebrated public intellectuals of his day. The first Jewish professor in the English department, he rose to fame as one of the “New York Intellectuals” (a group whose members included Saul Bellow and Irving Howe) and a writer for Partisan Review. He also published acclaimed studies of Matthew Arnold and E.M. Forster, before trying his hand at novel-writing with The Middle of the Journey. His later works—collections of essays like The Liberal Imagination, The Opposing Self, Beyond Culture, and Sincerity and Authenticity—are classics of literary criticism. He died in 1975, at age 70, and remains an iconic figure, if not a fashionable one.

Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers

Increasingly, authors, teachers, librarians and publishers are embracing this fast-paced, image-laden world in the hope that the games will draw children to reading.

Spurred by arguments that video games also may teach a kind of digital literacy that is becoming as important as proficiency in print, libraries are hosting gaming tournaments, while schools are exploring how to incorporate video games in the classroom.

When Books Could Change Your Life
“Why What We Pore Over At 12 May Be The Most Important Reading We Ever Do”

In this wonderful piece Tim Kreider explains why the books we devour as children and adolescents are some of the most important reading of our lives:

It’s not that children’s books are pure entertainment, innocent of any didactic goal–what grownups enviously call “Reading for Fun.” On the contrary, the reading we do as children may be more serious than any reading we’ll ever do again. Books for children and young people are unashamedly prescriptive: They’re written, at least in part, to teach us what the world is like, how people are, and how we should behave. . .