Reading This Week

Three parenting books, which are changing my life

It might seem strange to read three at once, but I’m finding it helpful in locating the contradictions among them and using these contradictions to productively cultivate my own parenting approach:

  • The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies
  • French Kids Eat Everything {And Yours Can Too} by Karen Le Billon
  • No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury

The Book of Ruth, as part of a larger bible-reading project I’m completing

Christine Hayes’s lectures through Open Yale Courses through Yale University have been particularly helpful.

The Innocents by Michael Crummey

While I eagerly anticipate the Giller Prize announcement on November 18…

This brilliant quote, from Zadie Smith’s recent essay, about which I cannot stop thinking:

“A book does not watch us reading it; it cannot morph itself, page by page, to suit our tastes, or deliver to us only depictions of people we already know and among whom we feel comfortable. It cannot note our reactions and then skew its stories to confirm our worldview or reinforce our prejudices. A book does not know when we pick it up and put it down; it cannot nudge us into the belief that we must look at it first thing upon waking and last thing at night, and though it may prove addictive, it will never know exactly how or why. Only the algorithms can do all this—and so much more.

By now, the idea of depriving this digital maw of its daily diet of “you” has become inconceivable. Meanwhile, the closed circle that fiction once required—reader, writer, book—feels so antiquated we hardly see the point of it…

Despite the confidence of the data harvesters, a self can never be known perfectly or in its entirety. The intimate meeting between a book and its reader can’t be predetermined. To put it another way, a book can try to modify your behavior, but it has no way of knowing for sure that it has. In front of a book you are still free. Between reader and book, there is only the continual risk of wrongness, word by word, sentence by sentence. The Internet does not get to decide. Nor does the writer. Only the reader decides. So decide.”

Zadie Smith, “Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction

New York Review of Books October 24, 2019 issue


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