In Toronto, they throw books in the street and call it art to make a statement about congested traffic.
“We want literature to take over the streets and conquer public spaces, freely offering those passersby a traffic-free place which, for some hours, will succumb to the humble power of the written word.”
They laid down this artistic installation on one of the city’s busiest streets.
“Thus, a city area which is typically reserved for speed, pollution and noise, will become, for one night, a place for quietness, calm and coexistance illuminated by the vague, soft light coming out of the lighted pages.”
During the exhibit, people walked on the books, took pictures of themselves on the books, and took most of the books home with them. I don’t know whether Toronto’s traffic congestion has changed since receiving this smite from the humble word.
“Literature,” writes Caleb Griego, an editor for The Heights, the student newspaper of Boston College, “seems to soothe the discontents of the mind. Reading allows for us to come away from our own loneliness and relish in the solidarity of it with another. Our alienation is both the cause of anguish and the remedy to it.”
“We train as researchers but spend our days managing the emotions of late adolescents, haggling over budgets, and figuring out how to use Moodle’s gradebook,” writes Jonathan Malesic, who used to teach at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, before he burned out.
“Eventually, I came to dread every class meeting.”
He describes his experience and some lessons learned.
Chronic dislocation produces the three main components of burnout: exhaustion, cynicism, and a sense of professional ineffectiveness. Burned-out professors, then, are people who cannot muster the strength to do the intellectual labor of their job, who see students as problems, and who feel their work has no positive effect.
Introverted teachers and students appear to be at greater risk for burnout in increasingly social learning environments. English teacher Michael Godsey tells this story:
After 11 years of teaching English at a public high school, Ken Lovgren left the profession, mostly because he was drained by the insistent emphasis on collaboration and group work. Engaging in a classroom that was “so demanding in terms of social interaction” made it difficult for him to find quiet space to decompress and reflect. “The endless barrage of ‘professional learning community’ meetings left me little energy for meaningful interaction with my kids,” he told me.
Researchers at Google Brain are having their artificial intelligence read 11,000 novels to improve its sense of language. At least one author thinks that a weird idea and wonders why she wasn’t asked for her permission before her book was used. The books used were supposedly unpublished and free for download. Should a company like Google be expected to pay for the books its machine reads, or does it matter since the books were all available as free downloads?
Another question we might ask is whether reading all these books will help Google drive better. It’s language translation skills are definitely improving.
My wife and I do not have cable, so we have picked up the practice of slowly plodding through books by reading them aloud to one another. We don’t place elaborate or super intense goals on how fast or how many books we read. We just choose a book, begin reading, and then finish whenever we finish.
Sam Bierig, who has a fairly busy schedule, recommends this and five other tips for consuming more books in the time you have, including reading a few books at a time. He says it helps to read a couple small books while plowing through a large one. What do you think? How do you squeeze reading, which includes listening to audiobooks, into a busy schedule?
A thirty-three year old, former high school English teacher spent a couple hours at Stonehaven Wharf, “a parking lot for fishing boats that’s frequented by tourists to the Canadian province of New Brunswick,” according to the Washington Post. He sat in his small white hatchback, reading Lewis’ Mere Christianity and a book by Tim Keller.
On his way home, he was pulled over by Canadian police, because someone had reported his behavior as suspicious. Of course, the officer quickly saw there was nothing suspicious about the Hamilton, Ontario native, and wished him well. The driver said:
I do not know the true motivations behind the individual who called the police to report my presence at the Stonehaven Wharf, but I struggle to understand why my actions of driving my vehicle to a public space, reading a book, and never once exiting my vehicle was cause for a level of suspicion which prompted this individual to call the police.
When we change the Bible into a chapter and verse Bible, plus added all these other modern additives — cross references, section headings, footnotes, all the other stuff that we put in Bibles — we have really made it hard for people to just flat out read the Bible. And one of the things I contend in my book is we should be reading first and studying second and actually doing our study in the context of having read whole books, because that is really what authors intended. Their central unit is not a verse, is not a chapter, it is a book.
Tony Reinke of Desiring God talks to Glenn Paauw, the Executive Director of the Biblica Institute for Bible Reading, on how the Bible came to be designed the way it is today. Paauw says practical considerations simply built on each other so that while we’ve done much to help people reference the Bible, we’ve also hindered them from simply reading it.
Here are two posts with some good thoughts on developing a writing mind.
Shannon Stewart explores the wisdom behind her friend’s recommendation, “If you want to write fantasy, you’re going to have to stop reading only fantasy.”
Anne Janzer describes a couple binary mindsets, fixed vs. growth and abundance vs. scarcity, and how they restrict or encourage a would-be writer.
Last week, the Library of Congress opened a new exhibit called “America Reads” to “celebrate the public’s choice of 65 books by American authors that had a profound effect on American life.”
It’s a follow-up to the 2012 exhibit “Books That Shaped America.” At that time, “the Library of Congress urged members of the public to name other books that shaped America and to tell the Library which of the 88 books on the list were most important to them. Thousands of readers responded.”
We, the people of these United States, chose books such as Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, both Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Anthem, The Book of Mormon, Stephen King’s The Stand, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, The Cat in the Hat, AA’s Big Book, The Feminine Mystique, and Spock’s Baby and Child Care.
The LOC reminds us, “The volumes featured in the ‘America Reads’ exhibition do not necessarily represent the best in American letters, nor do they speak to the diversity of our nation and the books it produces.” No, but it does speak to the type of people who visit the Library of Congress and respond to reading surveys with what amounts to Boaty McBoatface without the priceless publicity.
The Big Book? Baby and Child Care? How many actual people who put on pants in the morning responded to this survey? It couldn’t be thousands, unless almost everyone picked a unique title, making the three votes for Baby and Child Care a standout choice.
The exhibit will run through the end of the year.
Nancy Hightower offers a list of best sci-fi/fantasy books of 2015.
About this time last year, io9 offered this list of the year’s anticipated books. Compare that list to this one from Valentina Zannoni.
To the Right Worshipfull, Sir Miles Fleetewood, Knight, Receiver Generall of his Maties Court of Wards and Liveries: All welfare in Christ IESVS.
IT is a truth able to endure the most fiery times & trialls, None but Christ, none but Christ. Ignatius expresseth as much, drawing neare to his Martyrdome, Let come upon me fire, crosse, meetings of wilde beasts, cuttings, tearings, breakings of bones, rendings of members, dissolutions of the whole body, and all torments of the devill, … only that I may gain Jesus Christ. Thus he, intreating the Romans not to intercede for him, and hinder his suffering for the Gospell. And thus the servants of God in these last times, when Romanists have thrust them into flames and other calamities.
Christ is all, and in all, said the Apostle.
The above comes from the first two pages of Christ Reveled by Thomas Taylor (Full title: Christ revealed: or The Old Testament explained A treatise of the types and shadowes of our Saviour contained throughout the whole Scripture: all opened and made usefull for the benefit of Gods Church. By Thomas Tailor D.D. late preacher at Aldermanbury. Perfected by himselfe before his death.)
The John Richard Allison Library in Vancouver has put its collection of rare Puritan works into clear, readable digital editions for free, online reading. Justin Taylor has a list of what’s available. This is awesome, friends. It’s wonderful to be able to see the actual pages of these books instead of stumble through the mistakes in OEM translated ebooks.
I’m encouraged to see two of my Advent-themed posts go up recently on For The Church.
- The first asks whether Jesus was chomping at the bit to start his earthly ministry. “I don’t think the Lord has the same concept of time I do. Just look at the incarnation. Christ Jesus did not appear to us like Melchizedek in Genesis, an established priest and king of the city of peace. He didn’t walk out of the desert and begin casting out demons like a fabled dragon slayer. He came to us as an infant. He spent years growing into adulthood, asking questions of his parents, learning his father’s trade skills, and studying at the synagogue.”
- The second reflects on a great hymn of the season. “Save us, Lord, and all the nations. By your authority, we live. The doors you open, no one can shut, and the doors you shut, no one can open. Lead us through that door to heaven and bring with us the rebels, strangers, hypocrites, and refugees who have exchanged their lives for yours. Lock up the door to misery, for your name’s sake, so that we may rejoice.”
More than hundred writers and artists read ten minutes each of Moby Dick last weekend at the Whitney Museum of American Art In New York. The marathon reading event started in 2012 as a biennial celebration, but the Whitney wanted to do again this year. Many participants had not read the novel completely beforehand, which one person said may be part of the appeal.
It sounds like fun and perhaps exhausting, but I doubt they have an edge on the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon, which “celebrated its fifteenth annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece [in January 2011] with an expanded 3-day program.” Take a look at these photos.
Some read in Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and/or French, followed by that same passage in English. One passage is read from Braille. The Seamen’s Bethel hosts the singing of “The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale” and the reading of Father Mapple’s sermon. At the end, a few hardy souls will have stayed for the whole adventure.
Wheaton College has posted eighty-one hours of free videos of Dr. Arthur F. Holmes lecturing on the history of western philosophy. Dr. Holmes has just the right English accent to give his subject the proper authority. Just think about having to learn anything from the farmer in his clip. (via Justin Taylor)
Also The Gospel Coalition has produced its first eBook as a response to an earlier book. Revisiting ‘Faithful Presence’: To Change the World Five Years Later.
“In 2010, noted University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter published the landmark book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. On the five-year anniversary of its publication, we asked eight contributors to engage the book’s thesis and assess its effect on the ongoing interaction of evangelical Christians with the surrounding culture.”
Those contributors are Hunter Baker, John Jefferson Davis, K. A. Ellis, Greg Forster, R. Albert Mohler Jr., Vermon Pierre, Daniel Strange, and Collin Hansen as editor. The eBook is free.
Dan Piepenbring responds to a “really snotty” piece in The Guardian about avoiding reading anything by a recently deceased author. He says there’s at least one truth that emerges from this snobbery. “There are writers we instinctively, permanently dislike: not only will we never read them, we will quietly relish the not-reading, finding in it a pleasure that can occasionally rival reading itself.”
It’s the nature of the beast, he says. Not that we have to be nasty in our opinions of authors we haven’t read, but we will reject–and even enjoy rejecting–books and authors for scant reasons of our own. And sometimes we miss good writing, which Piepenbring illustrates with his about-face on Michel Houellebecq. Once he enjoyed hating Houellebecq, but now he enjoys his work greatly.
“It took impassioned pleas by not one but several friends to get me to read him—an almost literal conversion effort. People have become Catholic for less.”