Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
This is a bit of a random post this week, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about! And it involves books.
On December 2nd the New York Times released its list of 100 “notable” books of 2014. Read it here!
Growing up, I always read the Sunday Times (our town was too small to get the NY Times on weekdays, so we only got the Sunday paper) after my dad was finished with it, and I’d head straight for the book review section. It’s still my favorite section to read- critics, other authors and artists reviewing recently published books, and at the end there would be the lists of ‘bestsellers’, in hardcover, paperback, and now Kindle.
Like most humans, I love lists. I make them every day, and I think they are a great way of displaying information or recapping it, like these 100 notable book lists. I’ve been thinking more and more about how we make them, though. Lists convey priority, an inherent hierarchy- what is included and what is left out. I haven’t gone through this 2014 notable list in more detail than to add some of them to my Amazon wish list, but I would be really interested to learn about how the ‘bests’ of the year are determined. What is the criteria? ‘Notable’ is pretty subjective. It made me think about our conversation about programming this week- what is important to the mission, audience, and staff, and what isn’t, and how these priorities are conveyed to the audience. I’m very interested in exploring the world of art and literary criticism, and I think that what gets talked about is often just as important as how it’s talked about- what a critic or reviewer chooses to turn her attention to and what gets passed aside. I’d be interested to see if there are any competing lists with this one by the NY Times, or if this issue has come up in other areas of art.
But mainly, it made me think about books. I can only read books of a certain time period at the same time- like right now I’m hopping between two books from the early 1900s, and then I’m skipping forward and reading two contemporary books next (Roxane Gay’s ‘Bad Feminist’ and ‘8 Mile’ by Jim Ray Daniels). What are you guys reading??? I really want to get “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” and “The Book of Strange New Things” from the NYT list!