Also, once I get back I’ll take pictures of my new bookshelves like I promised, and hopefully post them at some point over the weekend. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple of interesting links I came across as I was catching up over the past few days:
- Cory Doctorow on Libraries, Hackspaces and E-waste: how libraries can be the hub of a young maker revolution. If Homeland weren’t enough to remind me of my brain crush on Doctorow, there would be this.
- And while we’re on the topic of cool authors talking about libraries, here’s John Scalzi’s A Personal History of Libraries:
I don’t use my local library like I used libraries when I was younger. But I want my local library, in no small part because I recognize that I am fortunate not to need my local library — but others do, and my connection with humanity extends beyond the front door of my house. My life was indisputably improved because those before me decided to put those libraries there. It would be stupid and selfish and shortsighted [link mine] of me to declare, after having wrung all I could from them, that they serve no further purpose, or that the times have changed so much that they are obsolete. My library is used every single day that it is open, by the people who live here, children to senior citizens. They use the building, they use the Internet, they use the books. This is, as it happens, the exact opposite of what “obsolete” means. I am glad my library is here and I am glad to support it.
- Here’s a post that perfectly sums up why I’m such a fan of Novel Readings - Is Cormac McCarthy a Terrible Writer?:
This is the reason I think debating “literary merit,” or ranking or rating books, quickly becomes an exercise in either folly, futility, or bullying. If you’re going to ask “but is it any good?” you need to flesh out the question: good at what? for what? for whom? There are myriad ways a novel can be. A much more interesting discussion will come from asking “what does McCarthy’s prose do?” or “what are the connections between McCarthy’s literary strategies and the central ideas of The Road?” then from asking if he is a good or a bad writer. Why would you even ask those questions, though, if you didn’t think the work was worth spending that kind of time and thought on? By assigning The Road to my class, I’ve implicitly endorsed it as good writing, haven’t I? And, to return to where I began, I think it is good writing. Good at what? Good for what? Well, one of the things it is unequivocally good at, or good for, is provoking discussions about good (or bad) writing.
- On Jodie’s recommendation I’ve started watching the Why Poverty? series of documentaries and now I want to share them with the whole world. They’re thoughtful, insightful, and available to watch for free online. I know several of you are interested in structural inequality, so I thought I’d put them on your radar in case you missed them. (Jill and Aarti, once again I’m thinking of you.)
- During my hiatus I read The Secret Life of William Shakespeare (terrible title, by the way) by the always wonderful Jude Morgan. I liked it a lot – Morgan’s prose alone made it worthwhile – but I don’t think I’ll get around to reviewing it because I read it in fits and starts over a period of almost a month - a period when I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, which wasn’t very conductive to close, thoughtful reading or note-taking. Luckily, I came across a review that does a good job of expressing how I felt about it – and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to think of the Sandman connection.
- Finally, thanks to Jenny I’ve become aware of the existence of these gorgeous new matching editions of Hilary McKay’s brilliant Casson Family books – finally, cover art that I like for these books! For now I’m going to resist the temptation to get myself a set, but I thought I’d use this as yet another opportunity to push this series on people. If you don’t want to take my word for it, I’ll just innocently point out that Ana at The Book Smugglers is a recent Hilary McKay convert.
One last thing: this probably goes without saying, but catching up with the Internet is always an unfinished task, so if you wrote or came across anything interesting while I was away, I’d be more than grateful if you send the links my way. Thanks in advance!