- The ReadySteadyBook Symposium gathers a host of very smart, well-read people who offer their best book finds of the year.
- An amusing list from the Gawker-network blog io9: Science Fiction Authors that Lit Geeks Think It's Cool to Read.
- Michael Bérubé has been back to blogging for a few months now and I meant to link to him before (as he's always been one of my favorite bloggers/academics/people), but definitely read his post on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and various issues (disability, race, "middlebrow-mawkishness") that it raises/fails to raise. If you haven't read Bérubé before, well, this is a fair introduction to his humor.
- I came across this article by Steven Poole on the way that video-games often are more like work than play via John Lanchester's consideration of video games in the LRB. Both articles are fascinating, especially (I would imagine) to people like me who have limited exposure to video games but enough to understand what's going on when they're discussed.
- My friend Brendon's Top Ten Albums of the Year (and an earlier additional six to make a top 16), all featuring samples from the albums. Brendon's taste is impeccable and diverse—there's everything from power pop to "new guitar music" there. Enjoy.
- The Toronto Globe and Mail finally finished its Top 50 Books list a few weeks ago; each book was chosen by a writer, who provided a short essay on its significance. Here's the last entry, Colm Tóibín on Henry James's Portrait of a Lady. That page has links to all the previous selections.
- Finally, I would like to pull this anecdote from a post by D.A. Powell on the Harriet blog at Poetry:
And this story is almost entirely apocryphal, except for the part that was confirmed by John Ashbery: Ashbery was invited to a question and answer session for graduate students, and, as is always the case, there were at least a couple of students who were trying to show how big their cerebral peckers were. One of the students was incredibly persistent and asked Ashbery a very long-winded question—one of those questions designed to show how much print-matter the student had absorbed—revolving around Paul de Man’s essay “The Resistance to Theory.” Ashbery waved his hand as if to clear the flies from the room: I don’t read de Man, he said. A short while later, the same graduate student asked Ashbery another complicated, self-important question, this time involving Barthes. I don’t really read Barthes, either, said Ashbery. More questions. Sometime later, as Ashbery was quoting both de Man and Barthes, the afore-mentioned grad student stood up and complained: I thought you said you didn’t read de Man or Barthes. It’s true, I don’t, replied Ashbery: “But I do go to cocktail parties.”