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Literary Links

Between the Book Club and BookTok: Community Reading in Montreal

Adam Christopher Hill tells the story of Page Break, a weekly gathering at De Stiil bookstore in Montreal. Page Break is a time when readers come together, give up their phones, and read silently for an hour. This approach to reading differs from most book clubs in that not everyone reads the same book. Hill describes how social media has changed the demographic and influenced the growth of the group. “The store continues to strike a delicate balance between the individualistic—the freedom to read and advertise your choice of book—and the collectivist—the pleasures and pressures of joint activity overlayed onto the lonely act of reading.” 

Amazon is filled with garbage ebooks. Here’s how they get made.

“It’s partly AI, partly a get-rich-quick scheme, and entirely bad for confused consumers.”

Constance Grady looks into what she calls “the neverending grift” of “the scammy underbelly of online self-publishing.” It’s not a pretty picture. Read the article and learn to protect yourself, whether you’re a reader or a would-be author, from tactics that aim to “[exploit] our cultural belief that books are meaningful, that writing a book is a valuable act, that reading a book will enrich your life.”

Fiction has a special power to give us insight into our flaws

“Losing yourself in a book, film or show provides a useful mirror for character – one that is hard to access in real life”

Martina Orlandi, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at Trent University Durham in Canada, explains how and why an episode of The Sopranos lead her to self-knowledge that her friends and family couldn’t make her see. 

Orlandi argues that engaging with a narrative allows people to “lose themselves in the story to the point of ‘simulating’ and taking on the mindset of a character. When we do this, we can actually lose touch with ourselves, in a sense – not that our identity leaves us completely, but we are able to temporarily set it aside and experience the story as though we were someone else.” And because this process “seems to bypass rational reasoning,” it allows us to empathize with fictional characters and thereby gain insight into our own flaws.

Because it cuts through our rational filters and allows us to immerse ourselves in the story, fiction also has the power of inviting us to empathise with characters whose perspective we would not normally take on.

Suzanne Scanlon’s Life Was Shaped by Books—for Better and for Worse

In her new memoir Committed: On Meaning and Madwomen, Suzanne Scanlon recounts the years she spent in New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hospital. In chapters oscillating between memoir and criticism, Scanlon narrates her own experience while disassembling notions of madness, recovery, patienthood, diagnosis, and the asylum. She situates her story within—and also pushes against—the canon of “crazy chicks,” whose memoirs were published while she was hospitalized in the early nineties. And yet Scanlon’s depiction of her artistic development suggests an appealingly thorny relationship between ideation and identification. “We don’t always get to pick our influence,” she writes.

“The bigger story is: How do you figure out how to live in this world that’s not meant for this kind of complexity?”

Digital reading soars in Seattle, creating problems for local libraries

This article opened my eyes to something I did not know: “Digital books are extremely expensive for libraries, even though they’re generally cheaper than print books for an individual consumer.” Libraries can pay up to three times the cost of what individuals pay to purchase a single ebook or audiobook.

Children of the Setting Sun shares Indigenous stories with an eye to the future

The Seattle Times profiles Children of the Setting Sun, an Indigenous-led and -centered nonprofit based in Bellingham, Washington. The group’s purpose is “[t]o educate the greater community, empower the next generation of Indigenous storytellers and offer knowledge and expertise for today’s most-pressing problems.”

We’re All Reading Wrong

“To access the full benefits of literature, you have to share it out loud.”

“Until approximately the tenth century, when the practice of silent reading expanded thanks to the invention of punctuation, reading was synonymous with reading aloud. Silent reading was terribly strange, and, frankly, missed the point of sharing words to entertain, educate, and bond.”

And, according to journalist Alexandra Moe, “Reading aloud is a distinctive cognitive process, more complex than simply reading silently, speaking, or listening.” Find out about some of the benefits of reading aloud, even if just to yourself.

How Fiction Became Edible

“A new genre of cookbooks is reverse engineering the foods of all your favorite pieces of pop culture. Now your stomach can travel to Westeros, Tatooine, the Shire, and more.”

I’d much rather read than cook. But if you’re into destination cooking and eating, Callum Bains has you covered.

© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown

1 thought on “Literary Links”

  1. I had no idea how expensive digital books are for libraries! I would have no problem with libraries buying my digital books and owning them outright. But I suppose Hoopla, Overdrive, et al. must have their cut.

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