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How to keep your reading resolutions in 2019

And the rest of the week’s best writing on books and related subjects.

Google To Digitize Books From Prominent Libraries
The Cecil H. Green Library on the Stanford University Campus, 2004.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

Happy new year, and welcome to Vox’s weekly book link roundup, a curated selection of the internet’s best writing on books and related subjects. Here’s the best the web has to offer for the week of December 30, 2018.

  • Have you resolved to read more books in 2019? At Refinery 29, Elena Nicolaou talks to authors about their best strategies to maximize reading time. The number of times Excel spreadsheets are mentioned has made me feel like I should hand in my type-A bookworm card for not having one:

I have a reading chaise, which is completely impractical in my tiny Brooklyn apartment, but I do love having a designated spot just for reading. I keep track of all the books I’ve read in a year in a simple Excel sheet where I write down the title, author, and my thoughts. My goal is to read 50 books a year. I usually get to 47 or 48. This year, I’ve only read 38 books (so far), but I’m giving myself a pass because my debut novel came out and I was juggling book tour with a job.

In Australia, we didn’t get American books translated into Australian English for us. Do you want to know how that affected my reading experience? It made me realise that Americans use different words to me for some things, despite both America and Australia having English as a main language. That there even are different types of English around the world. That America uses different measurements for temperature and distance and weight, that difference in language is okay. It taught me new words and a new flavour of English. Why would you want to deprive American audiences of this?

In the romantic comedy “The Proposal,” Sandra Bullock plays a big-shot book editor. Early in the film, they (one imagines a producer consensus being reached) have her refer to Don DeLillo as Don “De-lee-lo.” The actor playing the head of the publishing house echoes the pronunciation back to her. De-lee-lo. Light of my airborne toxic event, fire of my nuclear war. “The Proposal” was released in 2009 but was apparently filmed in a bunker with no internet access. If this sounds nitpicky, I might remind you that I was not the one who decided Don DeLillo was famous enough to plop into a major studio script.

Walentine and her wife put in $2,000 in order to fund their initial venture, a 100 square foot co-owned popup store in [a] pedestrian-friendly location, which opened in December 2017. Most of that initial funding went toward inventory, while “book-loving people” donated fixtures. After being housed in two temporary popup locations, Walentine now offers book delivery and partners with local businesses for events. She recommends the popup route to anyone considering venturing into bookstore ownership. “Growing a strong foundation before opening a brick and mortar is key because our future success depends on a symbiotic relationship with our customers,” Walentine said.

To read it again as an adult is to feel Holden’s pain lingering like a phantom limb. His righteous cynicism is adolescence distilled into a sweet liquor. But the novel also feels like revisiting your first house. The familiarity is enchanting but discombobulating. The story is smaller than you remember, and some details you had completely wrong. But what’s most striking is how common the novel’s tone has become over the intervening decades. Holden is Patient Zero for generations infected by his misanthropy. We live in a world overpopulated by privileged white guys who mistake their depression for existential wisdom, their narcissism for superior vision.

We have met the phonies and they are us.

The company is known as the “everything store,” but in its dogged pursuit of growth, Amazon has come to dominate more than just ecommerce. It’s now the largest provider of cloud computing services and a maker of home security systems. Amazon is a fashion designer, advertising business, television and movie producer, book publisher, and the owner of a sprawling platform for crowdsourced micro-labor tasks. The company now occupies roughly as much space worldwide as 38 Pentagons. It has grown so large that Amazon’s many subsidiaries are difficult to track—so we catalogued them all for you. This is our exhaustive map of the Kingdom of Amazon.

Alone in the woods, I did not ache for my phone, did not yearn to be online. Given the freedom to wander, a stack of novels to read and the explicit permission to ignore the news cycle, I read for hours without stopping. My only real distractions were hunger and cold. My heat came from a small wood-burning stove, and keeping the tiny house at the right temperature, it turned out, required the same kind of constant low-level attention as my Twitter feed. When the fire was out, I missed it. It made me less lonely to hear it in the background: the mutter of the kindling, the sigh as a log caught, the little coughs, then quiet, as it burned down into ash.

It’s been almost five months, and I’ve integrated the changes, I think—the depression has abated—though I’m still healing. The books helped. Is this because they were good, or because they were tokens of thoughtful care, paperbound time-erasers that arrived exactly when I needed them? I think both are true, which is why, although I recommend all of these, I recommend this even more: When your friend is lost, consider giving them a book.

On the day we fled the fire, there was a recently purchased stack of books from that sale on the bookshelf beside my bed, among them a novel by Robertson Davies, the wry Canadian novelist. There was also a book by V.S. Naipaul I’d started to read in those blissfully calm days before the fire and the dislocation that followed.

Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the past week in books at Vox:

As always, you can keep up with Vox’s book coverage by visiting Happy reading!

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