It was good to get to John Palettella's article on the supposed death of reading. I was delighted to see all the various magazines and literary review examples you gave—not just a few that are in the States. Other than The New Republic and Bookforum, I subscribe to almost all of the major ones here and in London. My favorites are the TLS and The London Review of Books. Even if I don't purchase many of the books reviewed—I'm on a widow's pension $1,000 over the poverty level for four in the US—I enjoy learning and sometimes relearning information in history, social problems, culture variations in all the Western Hemisphere continents and sometimes in South America. I see little of that nor Africa but when I do, I read about it.
Palettella is sooo correct in bemoaning the lack of depth in both The New York Times Sunday Book Review, especially about fiction from many places, and reviews on blogs, bookstores or elsewhere. I used to have Bookforum but with the TLS, LRB, and NYRB plus The New Yorker, Harper's and The Atlantic plus The American Scholar and National Geographic and Smithsonian (for history ideas and antiquity of all sorts)... I run out of time for "some strange reason." Laphams Quarterly and the last two previously listed are not magazines for literature, Lapham's covers an area of history, philosophy and literature and/or authors from all continents that I like. It's a good source for looking into the Internet for more. The three New York magazines (NY in their titles) can sometimes spend a little more time on history or fine points of societal and scientific areas than I would prefer. I wish they would write more fiction reviews on books from both the States and overseas publications.
My book club had difficulty with The Elegance of a Hedgehog because it was not carried on Amazon's Kindle, even though they could have bought it for less than $9.99 at one of Amazon's used-book stores. Mine was $8.95, including shipping and handling, so this beat both Amazon and Google in their price. I have figured Amazon didn't carry it on Kindle since the publisher La Europa can't afford to sell below cost as Amazon often demands. La Europa is a good publisher for up-to-date overseas translations. They lost out on Le Clezio's book, since I noticed the publisher Atlantic published it this spring.
Reading by Americans—student-age or adults—is much poorer than in many other countries, even the developing countries (if the citizen can afford the couple of dollars paid to go to school). Their newspapers are written at a higher level. Our 35 percent of the reading public is small but in numbers it does exceed most other countries. It definitely wouldn't if the percentile for Europe was all of the EU, not France, Britain etc. separately. Our anti-intellectualism is still very strong.
San Jose, CA
Jun 18 2010 - 6:13pm