Monday Miscellany

Some interesting takes on the literary world this week.

Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading

Slate caused quite a stir recently with its publication of this excerpt from Andrew Piper’s recent book Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (University of Chicago Press, 2012):

Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies. Reading is an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, even if at times this can mean feeling intensely apart from it. How we hold our reading materials, how we look at them, navigate them, take notes on them, share them, play with them, even where we read them—these are the categories that have mattered most to us as readers throughout the long and varied history of reading. They will no doubt continue to do so into the future.

Understanding reading at this most elementary level—at the level of person, habit, and gesture—will be essential as we continue to make choices about the kind of reading we care about and the kind of technologies that will best embody those values. To think about the future of reading means, then, to think about the long history of how touch has shaped reading and, by extension, our sense of ourselves while we read.

KindleThis article elicited the following very clever response from Amanda Nelson over on Book Riot:

“E-Reading Isn’t Reading”: A GIF Response

 Slate has published an article called “Out of Touch: E-Reading Isn’t Reading,” which was actually an excerpt from Andrew Piper’s book, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times. The article takes the physical book fetish vs. e-reader debate into a new level of absurdity, pulling in St. Augustine and Aristotle to defend the author’s personal preferences about how he ingests books. Since I’ve already used words to express how ridiculous the idea that e-books aren’t “real” is, I’ve decided to come at my response to this article in a different way: with funny pictures.


If you want to know where your favourite author ended up after their death then The Literary Cemetery should provide you with all the information you need. The writers listed on The Literary Cemetery cover all genres, eras, nationalities and styles – the only thing that they all have in common is that they are no longer with us physically, but they live on through their work.

Here, for example, is the grave of J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan:

grave of J. M. Barrie

Duly Noted: The Past, Present, and Future of Note-Taking

Sebastian Stockman, who teaches at Emerson College in Boston, reports on TakeNote, a conference dedicated to the history, theory, practice and future of note-taking, held recently at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute.

I found the most interesting part of this article to be the comments on the future of note-taking:

Bob Stein, the founder of The Institute for the Future of the Book, had some thoughts about how we might combat this disease. “The idea that reading is something you do by yourself is very, very recent,” Stein said.

His institute created Social Book, a platform for annotating books with your friends. Stein wants us to reimagine the book as less a physical object than a “place to congregate” and social reading as a communal experience of annotation, rather than “me telling you what I’m reading, and taking out a little snippet and then you going to Amazon and buying it.”

Stein gets more radical: He suggested an author’s own annotations might provide an ideal path through that author’s text — a road map for skimming.

There’s a link for the future publication of the conference notes at the end.

Great Gumshoes: A Guide to Fictional Detectives

Here’s a great article on fictional detectives, followed by a list of literary detectives not to be missed.

The list includes several characters you’ll find reviewed right here on Notes in the Margin:

What other fictional detectives would you add to the list?


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