Welcome to Book Think!

A book, any book, is for us a sacred object. Cervantes, who probably did not listen to everything that everyone said, read even “the torn scraps of paper in the streets.”

—Jorge Luis Borges, “On the Cult of Books”

This blog is for fellow members of the Cult of Books, which I joined as a little kid and have never once considered leaving. As cults go, it’s pretty relaxed: there are no fees (as long as you respect library due dates), no hazing rituals (unless some professor saddles you with Finnegans Wake), and very little dogma (members have spent the past forty years debating whether or not authors exist).

As much as possible, Book Think will share that spirit of freewheeling zeal. Posts will be a hodgepodge: some will offer short essays on classic literature; others will provide contemporary book news or commentary about the publishing industry. Mixed in will be digressions about book design, creative writing, and the print/digital divide.

This last topic will undoubtedly surface often, since I love physical books and am not above using the Web to wax poetic about print. (I don’t want to say wax nostalgic, although even for twentysomethings like me, that's what it’s starting to feel like.) At the same time, I'm interested more in starting good arguments than in defending a particular format. As any publisher, librarian, or Borders employee can tell you, we’re living through a topsy-turvy moment in the history of the book; it’s a little scary and a little thrilling, and I look forward to wading into the fray.

In some ways this blog will be an extension of my work as a teacher, but for the most part it will be an extension of my work as a student. Writing about books is a way of thinking through them, often more carefully than you otherwise would or could. I look forward to hearing, and learning, from readers throughout that process.

Mainly, this blog will try to provide what its author loves most: something good to read. Again, welcome to Book Think, and enjoy.

[Photo credit: flickr, user UofSLibrary.]

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
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Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
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  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.