We asked the people behind the excellent Bookriot.com to pick their favourite articles and essays for us. This is what they chose:
Roger Ebert: The Essential Man by Chris Jones — Jones is one of my favorite contemporary journalists. He writes spot-on profiles, and this generous, funny, and sad piece about Roger Ebert from 2010 never fails to make me cry. (Kim Ukura)
What Broke My Father’s Heart by Katy Butler — The decision about how to live the last part of our lives is a difficult one, made even more complicated by the advances in medical science and the monetary incentives in place in our medical system. In this piece Katy Butler looks at the different ways her parents died and how her father became a victim of a system that was supposed to help him. (Kim Ukura)
The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything by Linda Holmes — There is a lot of intellectual, artistic stuff produced every day. Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about how much of it I am going to miss. When that happens, I revisit this essay and it usually makes me feel better. (Kim Ukura)
SpongeBob’s Golden Dream by James Parker — Almost four years after I first read it, this essay remains my touchstone for the best kind of topical-yet-oracular cultural criticism. Taking “SpongeBob SquarePants” seriously, James Parker reads SpongeBob himself as a moral beacon of postmodern capitalism. It stings, and I smile. (Derek Attig)
Watch This Man by Pankaj Mishra — My favorite book review. The pleasure of “Watch This Man” is the pleasure of seeing a sharp mind dispassionately and patiently dismantling a popular thinker’s popular thoughts. Essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra takes on Niall Ferguson’s oeuvre, and his neomperialism, with wry aplomb. An extra delight is that, in this online version, you can also read a back-and-forth between Mishra and Ferguson that followed the original publication. (Derek Attig)
Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu by John Updike — In his final game with the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams - the greatest hitter who ever lived, aged 41 - lived up to the mythical image he had earned after more than twenty seasons in the Majors. John Updike was there and wrote this ode to Teddy Ballgame, the best piece of sports writing and one of the best essays I’ve ever encountered.
Mother Earth, Mother Board by Neal Stephenson — in 1993, cyberpunk author Neal Stephenson went world-traveling as a “hacker tourist,” to look at the massive cables laid across continents, forming the very physical and very literal backbone of the digital world. The article is fascinating not only for his exploration of different continents, but because it’s a look at the physical aspect of the internet, which we often forget about. And as an added feature, the article is now twenty years old, which makes it nearly an artifact all by itself. (Peter Damien)
Politics and The English Language by George Orwell — A classic screed against bad writing. As relevant today as it was in 1946, the essay combines Orwell’s unparalleled bullshit detector with his desire to write as forthrightly as he can. (Jeff O’Neal)
Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell — Agree or not, there’s no denying that this 1927 lecture is a masterful piece of writing. Logical and passionate, this is Bertrand Russell at his finest: “We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world — its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it.” (Derek Attig)
Cookbooks by Anthony Lane — No matter the mental weather, this essay on cookbooks — their frights and foibles — can reduce you to a giggling, quivering jelly. Jelly tied securely with a single chive. (Jennifer Paull)
Unflowered Aloes by Tom Bissell — We like to think that the books that are published get published because they are the very best books publishers had to choose from, and that the books that become renowned and widely sold are renowned and widely sold because they have the most literary value. But that’s not always the case. There’s a lot of luck and a lot of randomness involved, and Tom Bissell explores those elements in this piece, subtitled “Why literary success is a product of chance, not destiny.” (Rebecca Joines Schinsky)
For some of the internet’s best writing about books and reading, great literary links, and stunning reading lists go to Bookriot.com. And if you want to read something amazing but don’t know where to start, why not read your way into 25 amazing authors with their latest kickstarter project, Start Here.
From the belly of the beast, redstate.com, a realization that Mitt Romney’s electability argument is hogwash:
Seriously, putting it bluntly, conservatives may not like Barack Obama, but most other people do. And when faced with a guy you like and a guy you don’t like who says he can fix an economy that no longer needs fixing, you’re going to go with the guy you like.
Don’t usually link to conservative websites, but this is worth a read.
Personally, I’m pretty confident that unless Europe’s economy melts down or Israel unilaterally attacks Iran, Barak Obama will be re-elected handily.
Looks like John Gruber got around to finishing the Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs Biography. His conclusion is spot on:
It’s not just that Isaacson was wrong about something; it’s that he was wrong about the most important thing in Jobs’s career. There’s a decades-long story arc about the software system started at NeXT that Isaacson completely misses.
Sad that the one guy who gets to talk to Steve Jobs for history turns out to be so totally technologically ignorant that he misses the entire point of the man’s career.
I agree with Gruber that Isaacson gets the personal part of Steve Job’s life but he misses the opportunity to correctly question Steve Jobs about his work because he just doesn’t get it.
If Isaacson has any duty to history, he needs to make his notes and tapes available so that someone who actually knows something about technology can write the story of why Steve Jobs brought Apple back from the dead.
Great read and proof why longreads is awesome:
The search for an amateur philosopher who anonymously paid university professors thousands of dollars to review his work:
The institute’s letter claimed that a “very substantial sum” had been earmarked to help contribute to “the revival of traditional metaphysics.” Given the number of philosophers involved, that sum was at least in the neighborhood of $125,000. Who could afford to spend that much money on philosophy? And of those who could, who would want to? No one had a clue.
To judge from both the reviewer’s contract and “Coming to Understanding” itself, the institute meant business. For one thing, the manuscript, signed by one A.M. Monius, suggested the handiwork of a serious thinker—not a prankster. “It didn’t seem like a joke,” Zimmerman says. ‘“t wasn’t that funny. It was clearly the work of a fairly able writer—a smart person, one capable of making some gross philosophical errors while at the same time having some clever ideas.”
Kind of on an economics kick today
Been reading a lot of articles today on economics and/or the state of politics and the economy.
Chris Rawson, tuaw.com
Look at the back of your iPhone, or your iPad, or on the bottom of your Mac. You’ll see the following words embossed somewhere: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” Many Americans, all the way up to the President…
Private chefs prepared to cook anything, elegant surroundings and even butlers are among the amenities in lavish suites of some hospitals.
The merits of private equity firms, like Marc J. Leder’s Sun Capital, have come into question again because of Mitt Romney’s time at the firm Bain Capital.