Saturday, February 06, 2010

What I'm Reading, etc.

The nice thing about writing a blog pretty much entirely for one's own benefit is that you don't have to feel guilty when you step away for, say, a month and a half. I felt like I was so crabby all the time and I wasn't particularly enjoying writing about my own crankiness so I can't imagine it was in any way interesting to read about. But I've since managed to plant myself in a cheerier place. So I'm back, if not with anything particularly substantive. But here are a couple things I've read recently:

Google and the New Digital Future
The terms of the settlement will have a profound effect on the book industry for the foreseeable future. On the positive side, Google will make it possible for consumers to purchase access to millions of copyrighted books currently in print, and to read them on hand-held devices or computer screens, with payment going to authors and publishers as well as Google. Many millions more—books covered by copyright but out of print, at least seven million in all, including untold millions of "orphans" whose rightsholders have not been identified—will be available through subscriptions paid for by institutions such as universities. [...]The negative arguments stress the danger that monopolies tend to charge monopoly prices. Equally important, they warn that Google's dominance of access to books will reinforce its power over access to other kinds of information, raising concerns about privacy (Google may be able to aggregate data about your reading, e-mail, consumption, housing, travel, employment, and many other activities).

Adam Gopnik on J. D. Salinger

In American writing, there are three perfect books, which seem to speak to every reader and condition: Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye. Of the three, only Catcher defines an entire region of human experience: it is—in French and Dutch as much as in English—the handbook of the adolescent heart.

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