Sunday, May 17, 2009

From Virtual Information Hoover to Revelling Reader (and back again)

A personal counter-cultural trend has accelerated this week catalysed by a week of working from home. Whilst I sucked up and spat out a barrage of information snippets, data points and piano-playing cats via email, friendfeed, text and tweet, I also found myself on a complementary novel-reading jag in my non-working hours.

At the end of days spent staring at screens, tapping into keyboards and instantly responding to vibrating devices, I finally finished John FowlesThe Magus then polished off the week with a quick sojourn to Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac. I revelled in the blissful escape via stories that twisted and turned in less frenzied alternative worlds, tempted in by the slow strip tease as characters and details were revealed to me with no more effort than eyes tracing along lines and the turn of a page.

So I was struck by this sentence towards the end of an article in yesterday’s Guardian about the decreasing popularity of non-fiction books,
“many publishers think the noise and immediacy of the web will make slow, quiet immersion in a book seem more, not less, appealing.”
Because this week it's certainly felt that way for me, although I confess I’ve always been a reader, from the most embarrassing of my letters to Father Christmas, containing the should-be-lisped phrase “books, books and more books!” to my current membership of readers' social network Goodreads*.

But I genuinely hope that as gigs and festivals have risen in popularity and importance alongside the file-swapped and mashed-up world of music, and the slow food movement emerged amidst our pre-packaged, fast-food nations, so there will be a trend (who knows? maybe Kindle-driven), in support of the mental nourishment and resuscitation a good book can offer.

With this in mind, please find the following recommendations meant for particular types of my virtual and media-saturated friends. As a break from our networked worlds full of fast, shallow, aggregated knowledge I believe we could all benefit from the occasional slow, deep wallow in words.
  1. ARG and Lost fansThe Magus
    Bear with it, you’ll gasp more than you did when The Others popped up.
  2. Peep Show and In-betweeners self lovers/loathers Portnoy’s Complaint
    A culturally specific and self-revelatory journey with some great masturbatory anecdotes.
  3. Twitter addicts Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
    In your quest for information and your constant need for innovation, the pace, wit, style and sheer ingenuity should suit.
  4. Virtual World Inhabitants and Hardcore gamers - A Clockwork Orange
    Learn about societal trends and tribes via this imagined violent world, with real pleasure to be gained from cracking the language.
  5. Guilty Grazia readers - Hotel du Lac
    Learn about love through an array of fabulously dressed female characters more interesting than Madonna.
Disagree? Too obvious? Add your own recommendations as you see fit.

*Apologies for the distraction, but there’s a great article I received via @zeroinfluencer’s friendfeed about the benefits of asymmetric friending on Twitter vs. Goodreads (I know, I can’t help myself.)


Hilary said...

Also for ARG fans: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Suzannah Clarke. A story of magic and faeries with footnotes and further reading. A book to disappear into.

For bloggers: Stuart, A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. A biography rather than non-fiction but compelling one. As the title suggests, it starts in the present and rolls backwards to find out how Stuart began. A book that makes you see the world differently once you've read it.

smplcv said...

Thanks for A Clockwork Orange! wonderful

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skullcandy smokin buds said...

It is really very good and helpful information that you have provided here.I hope that many people will really like these information.A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters.A biography rather than non-fiction but compelling one.