Women are trouble: /
Men are Loser’s Hand-me-downs; /
Death smiles so sweetly.
An overstuffed bookcase (or e-reader) says good things about your mind.
Lifelong learning will help you be happier, earn more, and even stay healthier, experts say. Plus, plenty of the smartest names in business, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk, insist that the best way to get smarter is to read. So what do you do? You go out and buy books, lots of them.
But life is busy, and intentions are one thing, actions another. Soon you find your shelves (or e-reader) overflowing with titles you intend to read one day, or books you flipped through once but then abandoned. Is this a disaster for your project to become a smarter, wiser person?
If you never actually get around to reading any books, then yes. You might want to read up on tricks to squeeze more reading into your hectic life and why it pays to commit a few hours every week to learning. But if it’s simply that your book reading in no way keeps pace with your book buying, I have good news for you (and for me; I definitely fall into this category): Your overstuffed library isn’t a sign of failure or ignorance, it’s a badge of honor.
That’s the argument author and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes in his bestseller The Black Swan. Perpetually fascinating blog Brain Pickings dug up and highlighted the section in a particularly lovely post. Taleb kicks off his musings with an anecdote about the legendary library of Italian writer Umberto Eco, which contained a jaw-dropping 30,000 volumes.
Did Eco actually read all those books? Of course not, but that wasn’t the point of surrounding himself with so much potential but as-yet-unrealized knowledge. By providing a constant reminder of all the things he didn’t know, Eco’s library kept him intellectually hungry and perpetually curious. An ever-growing collection of books you haven’t yet read can do the same for you, Taleb writes:
A private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.
An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations — the vast quantity of things you don’t know, half-know, or will one day realize you’re wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself toward the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning.
“People don’t walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did,” Taleb claims.
Why? Perhaps because it is a well-known psychological fact that it’s the most incompetent who are the most confident of their abilities and the most intelligent who are full of doubt. (Really. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.) It’s equally well established that the more readily you admit you don’t know things, the faster you learn.
So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people.
by Andrew Perrin
About a quarter of American adults (26%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form. So who, exactly, are these non-book readers?
Several demographic traits correlate with non-book reading, Pew Research Center surveys have found. For instance, adults with a high school degree or less are about three times as likely as college graduates (40% vs. 13%) to report not reading books in any format in the past year. A 2015 Pew Research Center survey shows that these less-educated adults are also the least likely to own smartphones or tablets, two devices that have seen a substantial increase in usage for reading e-books since 2011. (College-educated adults are more likely to own these devices and use them to read e-books.)
Adults with an annual household income of less than $30,000 are about twice as likely as the most affluent adults to be non-book readers (33% vs. 17%). Hispanic adults are also about twice as likely as whites (40% vs. 23%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months.
Older Americans are a bit more likely than their younger counterparts not to have read a book. Some 29% of adults ages 50 and older have not read a book in the past year, compared with 23% of adults under 50. In addition, men are less likely than women to have read a book, as are adults in rural areas compared with those in urban areas.
The share of Americans who report not reading any books in the past 12 months is largely unchanged since 2012, but is slightly higher than in 2011, when the Center first began conducting surveys of book-reading habits. That year, 19% of adults reported not reading any books.
Given the share that hasn’t read a book in the past year, it’s not surprising that 19% of U.S. adults also say they have not visited a library or a bookmobile in the past year. The same demographic traits that characterize non-book readers also often apply to those who have never been to a library. For example, men, Hispanics, older adults, those living in households earning less than $30,000 and those who have no more than a high school diploma or did not graduate from high school are the most likely to report they have never been to a public library.
At a luncheon in Manhattan yesterday, ‘New York Times Book Review’ editor Pamela Paul, who oversees all books coverage at the ‘New York Times,’ laid out the newspaper’s vision for the future of its newly-unified books desk.
by John Maher
At a luncheon hosted by the Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association (PAMA) at the New York Times headquarters on Wednesday, New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul explained the paper’s vision for the future of its books coverage.
Paul has overseen all books coverage at the New York Times since the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, announced changes to the newspaper’s books coverage last summer. She has also previously spoken about some of the changes, including the unification of the paper’s separate books teams under one desk, and the deprioritization of reviews in favor of more custom-tailored and wide-ranging forms of coverage.
But after the Times eliminated a number of its bestsellers lists in January, many in publishing have found themselves asking questions about the paper’s coverage of books and worrying what the shift means.
“When I hear that [a media outlet is consolidating], as an outsider…my very jaundiced, skeptical take is, ‘Oh, they’re cutting back,'” Paul said. “That is actually not the case in this instance. It is the opposite.”
Paul stressed that the Times is actually expanding its books coverage, with the intent of becoming more “strategic” in how it covers particular books. Previously, the paper had three separate desks that covered books entirely independent of one another—the Business Day, which is where publishing reporter Alexandra Alter was assigned; the Daily Critics, comprised of Michiko Kakutani, Dwight Garner, and Jennifer Senior; and the Sunday Book Review—with very little communication between teams and some duplication in what was covered. That will now change, with all books coverage falling under a single Books Desk umbrella.
In simple terms, the Times is moving from a review-oriented strategy to a strategy that aptly covers categories that are of interest to their readers but are “review-proof,” or wouldn’t necessarily benefit from a 1,200-word review in the New York Times Book Review. (Examples include, with exceptions, mysteries, parenting books, business books, or health books.)
Previously, Paul said, the Times’ books coverage consisted “85% of reviews” with the rest being “a mix of profiles, industry news, features, and bestseller lists.” This approach, she said, resulted in “a lot of duplication.” In other words, at a Times that has rapidly expanded its digital strategy, the question will no longer be, she said, “Does this book merit a review,” but rather, “Does this book merit coverage?”
To this end, Paul noted that the Times has been, and will continue, hiring new writers and editors to write about books in different ways. Those editors and writers will be focused “across all genres,” Paul said, and covering—but not reviewing—books she feels the paper did not effectively cover in the past.
While Laura Marmor was brought to the Books Desk from the NYT Styles Desk as deputy editor of news and features, the biggest recent hire at the Books Desk was of new editorial director Radhika Jones, who came from Time magazine, where she edited features including the Time 100 Most Influential People. (Before Time, Jones was at the Paris Review.) Jones will be spearheading an upcoming redesign of the New York Times Book Review, which remains “central” to the newspaper’s books-related mission. The redesign will affect both digital and print and, Paul said, in an email to PW, be unveiled sometime this summer. David Kelly remains the deputy editor of the New York Times Book Review.
Paul also addressed concerns over the slashing of bestseller lists including mass market and comics. Regarding how the bestseller lists team compiles the lists, “their methodology has not changed,” Paul said, “and I can say that with a mix of total confidence and total ignorance.” She continued: “I will say, there does still exist that line between editors and the bestseller lists in that we don’t know their special sauce. We don’t want to know it, nor should we know it. We oversee them and they are part of our group, but we don’t interfere with that process.”
As for the reasoning behind which lists were cut, Paul said that cuts were made “strategically in a way that every book still has a chance to be on a bestseller list.” She then added: “There’s no book that doesn’t have a chance to get on there. It’s just that the competition is tougher.”
The real question is: Can you ever have too many beautiful bookstores in your life? Yelp identified the best bookstores in the country by looking at both the number of reviews and the star-rating, then hand-selected the most dazzling stores from that list.
So here are 19 incredible bookstores you need to see for yourself, as told by the Yelp users who love books and ambiance just as much as the rest of us.
Czech center builds giant ‘airship’ for literature
By Karel Janicek, The Associated Press
PRAGUE (AP) – Is that a zeppelin on the roof?
The huge object appears to have landed on the roof of the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in the Czech capital.
The wooden and metal structure, envisioned as a home for literature, is another project of the center known for its challenging exhibitions and installations.
The center’s founder and director, Leos Valka, joined forces with architect Martin Rajnis, who won the 2014 Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, to give the gallery another dimension.
“Our aim for the world of contemporary art is to spread and get partially interconnected with the world of literature,” Valka said at a preview this week.
The 42-meter (138-feet) long and 10-meter (33-feet) wide ship is planned to seat 120 people on its cascade steps inside for authors’ readings, performances, workshops and public debates to complement the exhibitions.
That’s all to be in line with the gallery’s mission “to create a space for research, presentation, and debate on important social issues, where visual arts, literature, performing arts, and other disciplines encourage a critical view of the so-called reality of today’s world.”
Numerous obstacles had to be overcome to get approval from authorities for the 55-metric-ton (60-ton) project.
The ship was finally qualified as a “watchtower” – a bit of absurdity which Prague native Franz Kafka might have appreciated.
The airship is named Gulliver, the hero of Jonathan Swift’s classic, who visited a flying island of Laputa during his adventurous travels.
“It’s a world of pure imagination,” Valka said about the project. “A children’s world.”
“You should get an impression that some 10-12-years-old boys escaped from the houses of parents to board their makeshift aircraft and by accident crash-landed in Holesovice,” the Prague district where the center is located.
“It’s an elegant intruder,” Valka said. “It’s a concrete, fully authentic, giant object whose message is that things can be done differently.”
The literature space is scheduled to open in late November or early December.