READING 150 150 Paul Levitz

Unsurprisingly, one of the great pleasures of my life. When I went back to my elementary school four decades later, one of the two places I could find unaided was the library. And I can still close my eyes and remember where specific shelves were in My Friend’s Bookstore, Brooklyn’s first used bookstore to carry a deep selection of back issue comics and the source of much of my collection.

Currently finishing two books: Mercedes Lackey’s latest Valdemar novel, CLOSE TO THE HEART, and Nicholas Carr’s THE SHALLOWS. Valdemar seems to me to be a very cleanly constructed medievalist fantasy, with lots of familiar tropes but an interesting progressive ‘reveal’ of the nature of the Companions. This isn’t one of the strongest in the series, without a lot of emotional progress or new dimensions to the fantasy elements. Start earlier on, if you’re inclined to taste.

THE SHALLOWS explores the changes in our brains caused by our use of the new technologies, and it’s very much the brain rather than the ‘mind’ that’s the focus. Carr identifies a number of studies showing how quickly we get ‘rewired’ neuron by neuron in connecting online or to video games, and the shifts in our reading patterns and attention span. There’s also a short, thoughtful chapter on the Flynn Effect, which is the rise in IQs, arguing that humanity isn’t really getting smarter, just more adapted to using certain types of abstract thinking. Thinking about adding it as another text in my “Transmedia & The Future of Publishing” course, and at the very least will be drawing from it for my discussions.

Of course, few books deliver the pleasure I used to get from a good Hugh Lofting Doctor Dolittle tale. Sigh…

1 Comment
  • Paul, my libraries and librarians are two of my greatest attachments from being a kid. My Junior High especially. That woman did more for every student than any other teacher. To this day, she still finds books for me and hordes them until we see each other.

    It’s amazing what memories can be stirred by seeing a room or a shelf. Enjoy the latest Valdemar!