Telegraphs went. Bedpans went. The Ptolemaic universe went. Outmoded technology dies. After 18 novels, the iPad’s carbon footprint is smaller than that of the paperback equivalent. So why might physical books survive?
Here are two reasons: (1) Tree of Codes. (2) House of Leaves.
Buy these books. Hold them. Note their essential tactility. Tree of Codes is lighter than it looks. Like a milk carton you think is full and lift with too much force. House of Leaves is heavier, like a fishing weight or a bar of gold. (Does your Kindle adjust its heft when you download War and Peace?).
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[Editor's note: Flavorwire is counting down our most popular features of 2010. This post comes in at position number 1. It was originally published November 9, 2010.] The Guardian recently ran an article in which Rick Gekoski remarked on the disappearance of essential cultural books. He argued that a few decades ago, “there was a canon, which wasn’t limited to Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Scott Fitzgerald. You could assume people had read the hot contemporary books; when they hadn’t, it occasioned not merely puzzlement, but disapproval.” Well, Mr. Gekoski, we beg to differ. Here’s a short list of books that have found a place in Generation X’s (and for that matter, Y’s and W’s, too) common culture; books that people know about, relate to, and converge around, all from the last 25 years. Please share any other literary touchstones that are also part of this contemporary canon in the comments section.
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