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Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

A couple weeks back, the New York Times published a piece by Joel Stein, arguing that adults should not read books aimed at youth. There have been plenty of cogent, scornful, and indignant responses, but for my money C.S. Lewis, speaking from the grave, says everything that needs to be said:

Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development.

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Thanks to The Daily Dish for the Lewis quote.

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My Year in Writing and Reading

It’s been a mixed bag of a year for me, writing-wise. Though I did manage to keep my resolution to write more in 2011, I started out on a low note, fresh off the World Hum layoffs at Travel Channel last November. The American road trip blogging gig that fell apart in May was another pretty tough hit.

From June on, though, things started to look up. Jim, Mike and I announced that World Hum was back on its feet. I published an essay I’m still really happy with, Stilettos in Paris, and I attended the inaugural Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers (look, ma, I’m ambitious!), and spent an inspiring few days in Arkansas, meeting other writers, eating bacon and plotting world literary domination.

In the fall, my friend Sarah Menkedick invited me to write for her new site, Vela. My first essay there, In the Bush, is my first real stab at a longer narrative, and I’m pleased with the result. I also landed my first assignments with Up Here, one of my most-desired bylines. My first story for the magazine appeared in the October/November issue, and there’s lots more to come in 2012 – one of many reasons why I’m looking forward to the new year.

My year in reading was more uniformly successful. Maybe (probably) because there were long stretches where I didn’t have a ton of paying work to do, I read a lot in 2011. I wrote about some of my favorite travel-related reading in a year-end post at World Hum, but I also read a lot of non-travel nonfiction this year, and even some fiction. The best history book I read this year, Battle Cry of Freedom, was worth all the time it took — it’s a monster tome, a single-volume history of the American Civil War that manages to be remarkably readable, considering the ground it has to cover.

But my most memorable reads this year were essays, not books. Here are four that stuck with me, in some cases even months after I first read them:

I’ve started playing around with Byliner, and if you’re interested you can find lots more of my favorite essays and journalism on this “Recommends” page.

Happy New Year! And bring on 2012.

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