A few things I’ve read online recently that are worth sharing:
The Impatient Reader, by David Wilk, of Federator Books, a new digital press. Wilk connects the rise in digital publishing to the faster pace of readers’ lives. He argues that:
Consumers of all kinds of media are impatient. When we find a story, a show, a character we love, we want to experience more of them, and we don’t want to wait for more. Romance publishers and authors have learned their readers will consume new books like candy. Some romance readers read over 300 books a year! That is a reflection of a great deal of commitment to story.
In a high speed interconnected culture, we don’t think slow to market publishing works very well anymore, even for print publishers, and as e-publishers, we want to be able to fill reader demand as quickly as we possibly can.
I’m sure Wilk’s argument has been made before, but I’ve personally never seen it put so explicitly. Is it true that readers demand books come to market faster these days? Personally, while I agree that digital and audio have allowed me to read in more places than in the past, my reading speed hasn’t changed. Nor am I personally less able to wait for sequels. And I worry, as do so many of us, of the sacrifices in quality that may be necessary to publish with greater speed.
Janet Webb has been doing some great blogging over at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Her post, on the latest installment of Jo Beverly’s Rogues, exemplifies the virtues of reader patience:
Remember that feeling of anticipation and delight that you felt for the holidays when you were a child? That’s how I feel about finally getting to read the April 1st release of A Shocking Delight, David Kerslake’s own story from Jo Beverley‘s Rogues series—and I’ve been waiting for it for much longer than twelve months.
David Kerslake was first introduced inThe Dragon’s Bride, and also plays an important role in Skylark, as well as popping up in other Rogue stories (Jo Beverley’s website, by the way, is immensely helpful in sorting out just who are all these Rogues and who are they to one another).
A Shocking Delight is the fourteenth book set in the Regency world of the Rogues. The last book of the series, Lady Beware, was published in 2007, so it’s been seven long years since readers have spent time with Nicholas and Lucien and Con and all the other Rogues.
Beverley’s books are terrific on audio, by the way, read by some of the really good narrators like Jenny Sterlin, Simon Prebble, and Jill Tanner.
I wanted to drum up a little signal for an important commentary on the very popular and influential book The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. We don’t have a lot of moral exemplars in bioethics, but I have a short list and Vanessa Gamble is on it. An accomplished scholar and historian of medicine, she led the committee that, in 1997, secured a presidential apology for the treatment of Africa American patients in the Tuskegee Syphilis “experiments” debacle. She’s just written an apt and important reflection on Skloot’s work:
How can I not love a book that has received stellar reviews and become mandatory reading at many colleges? One problem is that it views the history of African Americans in medicine and bioethics exclusively through the lens of exploitation, powerlessness, and victimization. Undeniably, racism is inextricably linked to the development of American medicine and adversely affects African Americans’ health and lives. … The Henrietta Lacks and syphilis study stories are the most widely known episodes in the history of African Americans and American medicine and biomedical research; however, focusing on them exclusively obscures countless instances of accomplishments, agency, and activism. African Americans have protested poor health conditions and established institutions to provide health care and professional opportunities. A young black woman’s rejection by every Chicago nurse training school solely because of her race prompted Dr. Daniel Hale Williams to open the nation’s first black-controlled hospital in 1891. At Johns Hopkins—the same institution where those “immortal” cells were removed—Vivien Thomas, an African American surgical technician, contributed to advancements in cardiac surgery and taught surgical techniques for thirty years. As a teacher of medical humanities and bioethics, I have an obligation to use Skloot’s book, but I discuss Lacks’s story within the broader context of the history of race and American medicine, something the book does not succeed in doing.
Science fiction is supposed to teach us how to think about the future. The intellectual dishonesty in ‘‘The Cold Equations’’ and Farnham’s Freehold are not isolated incidents, though: they’re recurring motifs that persist to this day (just have a look at Sandra Bullock’s struggles with the cold equations of Gravity if you don’t believe me, then watch Jack Bauer torture a terrorist on 24 to see some modern lifeboat rules).
They have something to teach us, all right: that stories about how we can’t afford to hew to our values in time of crisis are a handy addition to every authoritarian’s playbook, a fine friend of plutocrats, and they reek of self-serving bullshit every time they’re deployed.
I think Doctorow poked a couple of sacred cows here, if the comments are anything to go by. I haven’t read either but the short story is now on my list.
There’s a new open access feminist philosophy journal coming: Feminist Philosophy Quarterly. Very much needed, very exciting.
I’m in a relaxed phase in terms of monitoring student distraction, but I do think sharing empirical evidence might help to cut down on this scourge of the modern day classroom:
And the evidence of that keeps accumulating, like the Kuznekoff and Titsworth study referenced here and described in detail in the January issue of The Teaching Professor. Using an intriguing study design, here’s what they found: “. . . students who use their mobile phones during class lectures tend to write down less information, recall less information, and perform worse on a multiple-choice test than those students who abstain from using their mobile phones during class.” (p. 251).
I don’t know if one gets to plan cultural shifts, but someone thinks The Internet is Ready for a New Cultural Shift. Many of us (me, for sure) can identify with this bit:
We’re sick of checking our email forty seven times a day. We’re sick of of all the endless crap we see online, the never-ending content blizzard. We’re sick of spending most of our free time staring into our phones. Our lives are being devoured by all these billions of carnivorous Web 2.0 pixels, and we’ve grown weary of it.
Ready to join? There’s surely no irony then in asking you to follow #thenewquiet hashtag on Twitter.
Molly O’Keefe shared her thoughts about writing an interracial romance. O’Keefe admits the obvious: “I believe the criticism that the romance genre is whitewashed is painfully accurate.” and then shares that “It wasn’t until I was in the first round of edits that I realized I wrote an interracial romance.” To some readers, this comes a little close to the old “I don’t see color” line. I’m sure the folks at LitM and elsewhere will have something to add, but I liked a couple of the comments, like this one from author Jeannie Lin:
Here’s some food for thought as to how race is or isn’t a part of an IR romance. Hubby and I are what you would consider an interracial couple. Hubby thinks race doesn’t figure into our relationship at all. I think it most certainly does. A POC can never forget his/her race and the issues (and pleasures too–it’s not all “issues”) that come with it, big or small. Is it in my face every moment of every day? Of course not. But it’s always in my skin, so to speak.
I’m looking forward to O’Keefe’s book, because as a fellow white woman, I feel she’ll do a good job of capturing the way POC experience looks from my perspective, and if I have to read about strange people I don’t want to have to do it in a strange way.
(That was a joke. I’m not sure if I’ll read it but I’ve read and really liked another of her books and have a couple on my TBR.)
On notebooks: several Tweeps (you know who you are) tried to entice me to spend too much money on notebooks and pens. I am proud to report I only succumbed to spending too much money on a notebook. But what a notebook! I love my Noteletts 4×6 ruled green notebook! Perfect size, sturdy, and paper doesn’t bleed through when I use my admittedly inferior Precise V5 pen.
Almost as shocking to me as my love of Sons of Anarchy, I am 8 eps in to Friday Night Lights and really enjoying it. I have a post in the works. Ana of Things Mean A Lot has a great post on the show, which pushed me over the edge and into the abyss (I still think Taylor Kitsch is a terrible actor with all the charisma of a piece of cardboard, though).
I am working on two other posts, one on Claire and Frank” marriage in Outlander, and one on what some people might mean by shame when they talk about it in the context of reading fiction.
I’m on break this week and next so hopefully I will actually get some of them done.
Thanks for reading!