Very interesting thought piece about the emergence of the slow reading movement:
Now and then the Nietzsches of the world have fought back. Exponents of New Criticism captured the flag in the halls of academe around the middle of the last century and made “close reading” all the rage. Then came Slow Food, then Slow Travel, then Slow Money. And now there is Slow Reading. In all these initiatives, people have fought against the velocity of modern life by doing … less and doing it slower. In that regard, the Slow Reading movement is hardly a movement at all. There’s no letterhead, no board of directors, and horrors, no central Web site—there are Web sites, several, in fact, all of them preaching, in various ways, the virtues of reading slowly. But mostly the “movement” is just a bunch of authors, schoolteachers, and college professors who think that just maybe we’re all reading too much too fast and that instead we should think more highly of those who take their time with a book or an article.
As one who reads slowly by default, I, biased as such, find merit in the movement, though I would hesitate with the “too much too fast” theme. Feeling bound by my professional and recreational proclivities, I would argue that one can not read too much; however, the pace at which we read is something we should monitor continually, for the reader’s dilemma is that one will inevitably face the choice of speeding through their reading so as to lessen an ever expanding to-be-read list, which appears an attempt in futility. Perhaps like the piece alludes to, there are other behaviors that we can model our reading pace on, for instance slower eating, or even perhaps sex. Nobody wants that to finish too quickly, no? Perhaps the phrase should be reworded: very much too fast, or simply: much too fast.
Of the numerous weird yet useful yet interesting things I’ve been exploring on Twitter is the potential for collaborative projects/thinking. Especially in the realm of libraries/books, there seems to be ample innovation for imaginative brainstorming. Here are two projects that I’ve come across.
Jeff VanderMeer (@jeffvandermeer), extraordinary author of le nouveau weird, has come up with an interesting project based on the World Cup. His World Cup of Fiction is a chance to display your hysteria for the tournament by reviewing works from those countries that are participating. So far I’ve chosen Brasil’s Rubem Fonseca and his work The Taker and Other Stories, which certainly made an impression. Hopefully I’ll make another submission soon enough. At any rate, it’s a good way to generate more interest in what we consider ‘the foreign’ and reading in general.
Another interesting project is Lee Barnett’s Fast Fiction Challenge. Budgie (@budgie) asks his troupe of followers for a title, consisting of a maximum of four words, and if he’s keen on your idea he’ll compose a 200 word virtual scribble of literary frenzy. Anything to keep the creative juices flowing. See, it’s not just a virtual vuvuzela, though there are sites for that.
What with the Kindle being the super number 1 product on Amazon, it initially appears that the clamour of preferring ebooks over their physical counterpart is slightly a bit disingenuous or at least misguided. After all, it appears that of the titles bought for the Kindle, more often than naught are, shall we say, priceless:
And how much money is Amazon making? How much money are authors and publishers making? When GalleyCat examined the Kindle Store bestsellers, they found that 64 of the 100 bestselling eBooks, the majority, were, in fact, free, including the number one bestseller, “Midnight in Madrid”, by Noel Hynd.
It’s question of cost, and the chilly reception from publishers who probably never thought the iTunes effect would be superimposed at great length upon their industry:
But publishers have ignored this demand. In response, several conglomerates have aggressively moved to protect their legacy. Macmillan recently announced a plan to delay the publication of e-books and offer enhancements that will justify a higher price. This tactic is aimed at Amazon’s policy of trying to set $9.99 as the expected price for an e-book. Most are priced much higher — but that’s beside the point. Amazon and publishers are fighting over this fiction, not the reality. Because Amazon’s customers have made it clear that $9.99 is still too high for their taste. Most titles in the company’s list of top 100 Kindle bestsellers are priced below $9.99, and the most popular price point is $0.00. But publishers can’t hear this, because they’re a little distracted right now.
All this is coinciding with imminent launch of the super secret Apple Tablet so achingly soon. And it’s no coincidence, since I feel that while Amazon has successfully developed and marketed its own niche in the book industry with the Kindle, consciously or not, they are following the Apple iTunes model of providing a platform for cheaper, more widely disseminated content. That is what consumers want. That is what authors, especially new aspiring authors, want.
I came across an interesting conversation on LT the other day contemplating the nature of our reading habits and more generally that of consumption itself (not TB but rather the using up, processing of stuff). The author is curious whether we ever tend to reread the books of which we are fond, and how we manage this desire to reread with the desire to read something new and flashy.
Within the thread, reasons for rereading vary, either for pure enjoyment of something deemed “classic”, or simply because the book was incomprehensible upon first read and at least worthy of another try. Those who don’t reread or lack the inclination to do so is because either their TBR (to be read list) is so numerous that they feel so pressured to read something new or just don’t have the nostalgia with the process.
This raises the larger question about revisiting other things or processes we redo. How willing are we to eat the same foods, listen to our favorite music, watch the same movies/TV reruns over and over again in comparison to rereading books? I’ll wager the former vastly outnumbers the latter. At least it does for me; I’m not much of a rereader as my TBR is ever-growing. Granted, reading takes more time and effort than the other activities, but the question remains…is reading by default less attractive than listening or watching when processing information, whether it be for enjoyment or otherwise?