Reading Update, March 1

It’s hard to populate this site because I want it to include observations about what I’m reading and seeing. Both take time and with reading I somtimes get into something but then put it away and circle back later. It’s all very whim-driven.

My shelf right now is:

A reread of Slaughterhouse Five, a story I last visitied by reading a theatrical adapation created by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. I’ll have a lot to say about it when I’m finished. It’s aged remarkably well.

I’ve also unearthed a compendium called “Masters of Modern Drama,” put together by RandomHouse in 1962. I plan to work my way through each script, though it’s an odd compendium, certainly not as inclusive as you’d get in a book like this today.

The novel that next seems to be calling from my shelf is Ling Ma’s Severance, and also the latest from George Saunders. The book that I don’t own that’s calling to me is that new biography of Tom Stoppard.

The nonfiction book I’d like most to write about is Millennium by Jacques Attali. It was published in the early 1990s but very accurately predicted the thirty years that followed.

I’m working on a new novel. It’s called Unique, New York.

Amazon Listens

When you read on Kindle, Amazon knows not only what books you like, but your favorite parts of those books, reports Kari Paul at The Guardian. This is not surprising, I suppose, and the extent to which it’s alarming depends greatly on your sense of privacy.

Your librarian for favorite bookseller (remember those) might know the same, though you’d have to tell them, rather than have them peeking over your shoulder as you read.

Amazon could really have helped out The Nothing in The Neverending Story or really screwed up The Princess Bride with all of its snooping.

I’ve had a couple of weird experiences with Goodreads. In one instance, I saw somebody reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara on the subway. As I was unfamiliar with the book but intrigued by the cover, I Googled the book.

The next time I opened Goodreads (an Amazon property), it recommended A Little Life to me. Couple of observations: it’s a little presumptuous for Goodreads to assume I’d want to read a book just because I looked it up. What if I’d Googled something bad like A Separate Peace? Second, had my fellow subway rider been reading on a Kindle, I would not have been able to become curious about what they were reading, but Amazon would know.

Another incident: I went to a meeting and left my phone on the table. The person I was meeting with said I would like Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin. I never looked up the book. My phone heard the recommendation and guess what Goodreads pushed on me the next time I opened the app?

To think, reading used to be a mostly private activity. I’d love a little more human interaction around it and a lot less electronic monitoring.

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