Sunday Book-Thought 71

I remember being enchanted as a kid with the early Hardy Boys books by Franklin W. Dixon, but after a certain point in the series, the magic seemed to disappear. It wasn’t until more than fifteen years later I discovered the Franklin W. Dixon never existed. The first sixteen books were written by a man named Leslie McFarlane. The next twenty were written by eleven different people. What I’d chalked up to the loss of something intangible in those later books was in fact the loss of something very tangible indeed: the author.
Aesthetic experiences like these for me are like an unending series of blind dates where you never follow up, conversations with a stranger on the bus (or the Internet) where you never catch the other person’s name. There’s nothing wrong with them –  they’re pleasant, sometimes memorable, even illuminating – and all relationships start somewhere. But to live a whole life like that?
Brian ChristianThe Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive (London: Penguin, 2012 [first published New York: Doubleday, 2011]), p. 31.


Why I Don’t Read Fiction

A few weeks ago a fellow PhD student in the English department asked me what I read when I’m not reading for my doctoral research. I answered that I read mostly non-fiction and that, come to think about it, I couldn’t remember the last fiction book I had finished (a later peek at my ‘Books Read’ list revealed it to be The Hobbit). My colleague looked at me confused, noting that he often found himself lost in fiction that drew him away from the books that he knew he needed to read for his own doctoral research. ‘Why don’t you read fiction?’, he asked. Without thinking before I spoke, I blurted out my truth: ‘Because it doesn’t feel productive.’

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