Yesterday morning, I read a good Snarkmarket article about James Wolcott’s Vanity Fair article on the demise of books. Wolcott says, ‘How can I impress strangers with the gem-like flame of my literary passion if it’s a digital slate I’m carrying around, trying not to get it all thumbprinty?’ and then goes on to talk about, even if he’s being tongue-in-cheek, why he’s completely wrong. As Rex Sorgatz at Fimocolous says, ‘James Walcott [sic] cries that no one will see him reading Anna Karenina on the subway, or something like that.’

Then again, Wolcott also says, ‘An overgrown man-child and his precious collection can become a closed-loop co-dependency that functions as a moat.’ Sounds kind of like acquaintances of mine who are terrible hoarders. And if the essay suggests he’s bemoaning the disappearance of books and CDs, his conclusion suggests otherwise:
‘As all this space opens up—as the tokens of our cultural snobbery or keen connoisseurship (take your pick, depending on the degree of pretentious wankery you attribute to others) recede into the hideaway shelves and flash drives—what will refill it? “After two decades of defining ourselves in terms of our possessions,” Holly Brubach wrote recently in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, “we now need to figure out who we would be without them.” I suspect that once this downturn plateaus and shrinks in the rearview mirror, we’ll just stock up on other possessions, which will be arrayed and arranged to show off not our personal aesthetics or expensive whims but our ethics—our progressive virtues.’ In any event, Wolcott’s a good writer and it’s definitely worth reading.

On a related note, book lists by scholars including Social Media, Bollywood and the Science of Sex from the New York Review of Ideas.