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Dear Kelsey,

Ryan has this theory that lists of things are really only interesting to the list-maker. (He shared this theory when we were coming up with our Recommended Books, so you can imagine how well THAT went over.) Although I disagree on principal (and somewhat gleefully observe Ryan’s desperate search for a new book, taunting him with various Top 100 lists) I’m reluctantly starting to consider that he may have a point. Because the list of articles I want to share is nothing more than “A Few Things I Read on the Internet Recently that I Bothered to Write Down and were Related to this Blog.”

(I know. Can I write a catchy title or what?)

Here we go:

“How to Make a Book Disappear,” by Maria Konnikova for The Atlantic, takes a look at some of the pitfalls of digital book distribution and why and how a publisher can erase the digital record of a book. The comments section delves into further DRM issues before collapsing (perhaps inevitably) into the tired “Tree Books vs. Pixel Books” bickering.

In “Is This Book Bad or is it Just Me? The Anatomy of Book Reviews,” Darryl Campbell writes about what goes into a quality book review and the role such reviews play in our culture. Similarly, Laura Miller’s article “The Dreaded Amazon Breast Curve,” looks at the culture of online reviews—purchased, solicited, and volunteered—and one interesting theory to interpret the whole.

When we say a book is “too long” are we being lazy reviewers or is there something to it? Laura Miller’s “Are Longer Books More Important?” talks about the relationship between genre, tone, and length of a book, and how they determine what a reader can (or should!) sit through.

And, yes, Laura Miller again (what can I say? I have a crush): “Your Brain Loves Jane Austen,” a brief interview with one of the researchers from Stanford’s interdisciplinary study on brain activity when reading for pleasure and how it differs from analytic close reading. (Also, guess which under-appreciated Austen novel they made them read :D)

Anthony Lane’s article in The New Yorker, “Out of the Frame: A New Portrait of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady,” takes a close look at the newest biography of James (a biography on James through the lens of Portrait of a Lady!!) and a quick look at biography as a genre. Also, did I mention it’s a

Finally, on a more political bent, nervana1 looks at “The Tragedy of Alexandria’s Book Market” in an article about censorship in Egypt and the value of literacy as a political tool and as a livelihood.

…What do you think? Internet curation is an interesting business and, since I’ve been seeing a few seminars and panels about it lately, one of growing interest. Are lists or round ups or blogrolls a useful tool or blogger self-indulgence? Is it a way of sharing information or is it appropriating good content to mask your own lack of ideas?

…and can you tell this is one of those long-standing arguments I really want to win?

See you on Friday?


Maggie Faber