Our 5 Favorite Sites for Great Bookish Videos

This past week, a 1950s video of Vladimir Nabokov sipping tea, discussing Lolita with Lionel Trilling, and just generally being his charmingly elitist self made the rounds. It reminded us that author videos don’t have to resemble the BookTV cliche of someone just droning on and on. It also got us thinking: What else is out there today? After the jump, we collect our five favorite sites for author… Read More

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Review: Just Kids by Patti Smith

On the night of Patti Smith’s Union Square reading, and on the eve of the official release of her memoir, Just Kids, there was, as there often is, a lankly fellow in a dazzling blue band jacket playing Jimi Hendrix songs on electric guitar in the Prince Street subway station. His hair piled on his head to approximate Hendrix’s Afro, his old-school musical tribute offset by the iPod touch as accompanist strapped to his arm, it seemed a fitting spiritual transition from our modern office to Patti, a talisman from 1970s New… Read More

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Review: You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

If you are not a gadget, what are you? Jaron Lanier would have you be a person, but he warns that Web 2.0 is pushing us away from personhood in ways that we haven’t really examined. Actually, he might have you be a cephalopod, because he finds octopi mesmerizing, but that enthusiasm only appears at the end of You Are Not a Gadget, his first book.

It is something of a reckoning. Lanier turns a philosopher’s eye to our everyday online tools. What do they say about us? How have they come to inhabit and inhibit the way we imagine ourselves? Who do our new systems reward? Is the Internet all that, really? … Read More

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Not on the Exam: In Praise of Bookforum’s Syllabi

The reading list has a bad rap. For obvious reasons. Those words conjure up nothing so much as college-age resentment and all the guilt of a stack of neglected New Yorkers. But a reading list is, after all, just a list, and who doesn’t like lists? That’s where Bookforum’s Syllabi come in. This terrific series provides unapologetically subjective guides to a variety of pop cultural and esoteric topics, ranging from the World Series to the Manson Family.

Like a friend’s suggestion or a shelf of good staff picks, the best syllabi make you want to read things you didn’t know you were interested in. How about a list of books about Doubt by Maud Newton? Or Comic Novels selected by Ed Park? … Read More

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Daily Lit: Books by Chapter, Now for Free

With all the hype surrounding e-readers this holiday season, it’s easy to forget that there are still plenty of other avenues for reading on a screen. One of those is Daily Lit, a handy site that delivers books chapter by chapter to your inbox or your RSS reader, allowing you to read Dickens by installment – the way he intended. Some of the site’s offerings are a bit slanted toward the public domain, but it beats squinting at a .pdf file on Scribd, paging through the Google Books interface, or dropping a chunk of change on Amazon’s one-use device. Best of all, the site is now free, making it a cinch to catch up at work, on the subway, or on vacation, without lugging along a… Read More

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DIY Stills and Thrills: A Sassy ’70s Guide to Cheap Living

Forget hipster idealists, vegans, and off-the-grid hippies: Dolly Freed has another way. Freed — a pseudonym — wrote Possum Living, a manifesto for living cheaply (and, she claims, lazily) in the late 1970s, when she was a feisty 18 year-old. Now reissued by Tin House Books, the volume is a relevant and sassy manual for a non-consumer lifestyle. Dolly’s practical lessons are presented with an irresistible wiseass grin: “We usually leave on the head, tail and fins for the simple reason that the fish looks nicer that way; and it means less work,” she writes. “Also, many fish have considerable amounts of meat in their heads — just like some people.” … Read More

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The Buzz on Electronic Writing: Fiction Goes Digital

Some of the best reads this season are being produced by electronic writers — techies devoted to the life of literature off the printed page. Their experimental fiction and poetry is colorful, cacophonous, animated and interactive — and often mediated by a host of different technologies. The term “electronic literature” usually refers to writing that is “digital-born” — created in a digital environment, and often intended to be read or viewed on a computer. Other than that, there are no rules, and very few… Read More

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Check Out San Francisco Panorama, McSweeney’s Newspaper

Forget all this talk about the death of print for a moment. Tomorrow a newspaper launches in San Francisco. Issue 33 of McSweeney’s Quarterly will be a one-time-only, Sunday-edition sized newspaper — the San Francisco Panorama. Here’s what it will cover: “It’ll have news (actual news, tied to the day it comes out) and sports and arts coverage, and comics (sixteen pages of glorious, full-color comics, from Chris Ware and Dan Clowes and Art Spiegelman and many others besides) and a magazine and a weekend guide, and will basically be an attempt to demonstrate all the great things print journalism can (still) do, with as much first-rate writing and reportage and design (and posters and games and on-location Antarctic travelogues) as we can get in there. Expect journalism from Andrew Sean Greer, fiction from George Saunders and Roddy Doyle, dispatches from Afghanistan, and much, much… Read More

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10 Awesome Books to Give Your Nonreading Friends

If you’re a reader, you know the dilemma. You may love to give and get books, but you’ve got at least a few friends or family members who just aren’t into what you’ve hand-picked and lovingly gift-wrapped for them. Never fear! We present our handy list of eye-candy books for even the toughest… Read More

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Review: Vladimir Nabokov’s The Original of Laura

There has been a great deal of hand wringing over Dmitri Nabokov’s decision to publish his father’s unfinished novel The Original of Laura. Dmitri recognizes this by dedicating the book to “all the worldwide contributors of opinion, comment, and advice, of whatever its stripe, who imagined that their views, sometimes deftly expressed, might somehow change mine.” Poppa Vladimir made it perfectly clear to his wife that he wanted her to burn the manuscript if he died before finishing it, but she wavered and then died herself. The decision fell to Dmitri, who explains in the introduction that he feels that his father did not really want him to burn it. The obvious retort here is that he did want that, and said as much to his wife, explicitly. But dead men make no complaints, and Dmitri and Knopf have seen fit to publish a beautiful book from the messy little… Read More

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