Friday, November 18, 2011

Reading about the reading life, November 18, 2011

Here we go again with a few items of interest I've recently read related to books and reading. Basically, these are articles or blog posts I have read that I think those of you out there who are readers and/or love books may appreciate as well. Some of these pieces give me idea for books I may want to read, which means my list of books to be read just keeps growing. Not that it is a bad thing. For this week, I think the one on the funeral books was my favorite, or at least the one I found most fascinating. If you read any of these, let me know if you found them interesting as well and any other comments. Tips for articles on the reading life you think I should read are also welcomed.

  • An essay on the friendship between Jorge Luis Borges and Macedonio Fernández. Macedonio is often seen as "a wizened hermit, devoted to chess and esoteric speculation, a genius in the raw, who does not even bother to capture his creativity in writing or publish it." Some say he had a lot of influence on Borges. Others say it was more, but there certainly was a friendship and, to use another term from the article, an intellectual infatuation. Interesting piece on Argentine literature and two of its great writers. What united them? Many things, such as "their proclivity for metaphysics, their unflagging interest in examining the nature of reality, the mystery of being, the fabric of time and space." I have read much of Borges, and now I am curious to seek out a bit of Macedonio's works. Via Quarterly Conversation.
  • Laura Miller, writing for Salon, describes "Reading Retreats: Paradise for Book Lovers." The idea sounds pretty simple: take a vacation devoted to reading. This is an idea I would not mind trying out. For me, I would prefer reading books, but magazines would be ok. The materials would be in print, as I am not a fan of e-book readers nor reading on a screen for long. So, this vacation would mean minimal Internet or none at all and definitely no phone. I also loved the idea of bibliotherapists mentioned in the article, folks who, if you need a reading list, will do a consultation with you and create a customized reading list for you. Sounds like good old reader's advisory. It also sounds like a job I would love to have. 
  • Scott Esposito reviews a new translation by Anne McLean of Julio Cortázar's work, a prose poem, From the Observatory.  The review gives a pretty good overview of the work. I may look for the translation, but I will certainly try to find the original in Spanish. Via The National (United Arab Emirates).
  • Sarah, at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, asks about organizing your reading lists. Do you keep track of your books online, say with GoodReads? Do you make lists? I will admit that, even though I am a librarian, I could probably work on organizing my reading lists a bit better. For one, I do not have all of them on GoodReads. I have some in handwritten notes or in my journals. However, for me, a bit of that semi-controlled chaos is part of what makes the serendipity of finding something new to read fun So, folks out there, if you feel moved to satisfy my curiosity a bit, how do you organize your reading lists? Do you even organize or make reading lists? 
  • This is something new I learned about from this article: Thai funeral books. These are books that not only serve to provide a memorial to a dead person, but they also serve as valuable cultural artifacts. From the article: "The text and photographs are not always grim, mournful or poignant. The publications can also include eulogies or cheerful tales by relatives and friends, plus Buddhist prayers, descriptions of the deceased's favorite recipes and other intriguing data." The books are usually given away for free at cremations, and they range from very opulent for the wealthy to simple stapled pamphlets for the poor. Via CNNGo.
  • Via The Reporter (Ethiopia), an article looking at Ethiopian writers of the 60s as well as a bit on Ethiopian reading and literary society. The article is "Generation of Literary Firebrands." A hat tip to The Literary Saloon
  • Via the Kyiv Post (Ukraine), a story about local book collectors who have done work preserving local history. Now their concern is that they may not have anyone to pass on their collections when they are gone.  One of the collectors says something that resonates with me. From the article: “'I believe we are the last generation of people who read books,' Bilokin said. 'Young people think they can find an answer to any question on the Internet. But that’s not true.'” A hat tip to The Literary Saloon

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