Surprise of the year: Franzen is being a jerk again.

Jonathan Franzen

Yes, he who snubbed Oprah and her “schmaltzy” book club, he who lacked the capacity to laugh at the ransom of a pair of glasses kidnapped from under his nose (quite literally), has climbed back onto his high horse again. The author of The Corrections and Freedom now declares in a new Guardian essay his disappointment in authors who turn to Twitter, lovingly casting himself as the reincarnation of Austrian satirist Karl Kraus, aka “The Great Hater.”

Not that you would know who that is, being a techno-communicating cretin and all. I mean, #karlkrausthegreathater takes up a big chunk of 140 characters.

I would explain more of Franzen’s essay for you, but like his other work, I didn’t get through it. So, I’ll just leave you with a link and some idiot friendly bullet points:

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A Cheater’s Guide to the Classics

DISCLAIMER: If you are a student assigned to read any of the following classics in school, you should ABSOLUTELY read them all the way through! Not only are they classics for a reason, but that’s your job as a student, and as members of the educational community we would be remiss if we didn’t point that out.

If you are, on the other hand, one of the 62% of adults who are simply willing to lie to make themselves appear smarter, well then this article is for you!

That’s right, roughly 6 out of 10 adults claim to have read books they’ve never even opened in an effort to appear more intelligent and impress others. How do they get away with it? Mostly through movie adaptations. But why rely on a director’s interpretation of Great Expectations when walking into the potentially vicious traps set by your dinner party counterparts? I mean, if you really want to get serious about appearing smarter, you’ll have to study with some study guides. And what a surprise–we just so happen to have some of those! 

war-and-peace

You could read the 1,225 pages this Tolstoy classic, or you could just prop it on your bookshelf at home and internally vow to get around to it “one day”

The top ten books people claim to have read, but haven’t, are:

1984 by George Orwell – 26%

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 19%

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – 18%

Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – 15%

A Passage to India by E M Forster – 12%

Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – 11%

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 10%

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 8%

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 8%

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – 5%

Titles that just missed the cut are The Bible (3%), Homer’s Odyssey (3%) and Wuthering Heights (2%).

Be serious about appearing smarter: study smarter. Never walk into a dinner party unprepared again!


What You Read Over Summer Vacation: Readers Respond to eNotes

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Remember, just a few months ago, when the summer seemed endless and our Loyal Blog Readers were asked what  books were going into beach bags and which were being chucked in the backseats of cars?  Some were novels recommended by a friend; others were purchased because of the rave reviews of trusted literary critics; still others were ones that had been Christmas gifts that we were finally going to have time to read.  Well, now those readers report back, with thumbs up or down or sideways about those earlier choices, and some that snuck in somehow…impulse buys or gifts.  Here’s what you had to say about your summer reading selections:  

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Who is Edward Snowden and What Did He Do?

Some information for students (from a fellow student) to keep you up to date with this complicated current affair.

There’s been a lot of talk going around about Edward Snowden and his disclosure of NSA information, but with the amount of commentary in the media, it’s difficult to figure out even some basic information. The purpose of this post is to answer some of the basic questions revolving around Snowden and the NSA.

Who is Edward Snowden?

Born on June 21, 1983 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Edward Joseph Snowden is soon to be thirty years old. He studied computing at Anne Arundel Community College, but illness left him unable to complete his coursework, leaving him without a high school diploma until the later completion of his GED. In 2011, he participated in an online program, working towards a Masters Degree with the University of Liverpool. Seven years earlier, in 2004, Snowden had enlisted in the US Army as a Special Forces recruit, but according to his own reports, was discharged four months later after breaking both his legs in a training accident.

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Snowden during an interview with Poitras and Greenwald.

Snowden’s former positions include (in the order he held them):

·      Working for the NSA, he was a security guard for the Center for the Advanced Study of Language, a covert center.

·      He worked for the CIA in IT Security.

·      According to his own reports, the CIA placed Snowden in Geneva under diplomatic cover in 2007, where he oversaw network security.

·      He reports leaving the CIA to work for a private contractor inside a US military base in Japan for the NSA.

·      Until recently, Snowden held a position as a system administrator inside the NSA for consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii. He held this position for under three months and was fired on June 10th after his media disclosures.

What did Snowden disclose?

Through the disclosure of documents and an arranged meeting in Hong Kong with reporter Glen Greenwald, of The Guardian, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, Snowden revealed the following pieces of information:

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ZZZZzzzz: Ten Books We Couldn’t Finish

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My home is filled with books. Books on shelves, books overflowing shelves, books on my nightstand, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, on the floor. Most I manage to get through, if not always enjoy. I am a big believer in seeing it through.  Most of my friends feel the same way. AND YET… there are always a few that we just cannot seem to finish.  Some are classics that we know we should complete before the inevitable Rise of the Librarians comes to quiz us with tasers. Others are books friends raved about….or best sellers that have evoked a lot of fuss…for no reason YOU can discern.

Whatever the reason, here are confessions of my well-read friends and colleagues, many of them English professors, so I will have to give them Code Names so their students never find out their dark, dark, secrets.

moby_dick

1.  Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Dense passage about the physiognomy of whales: the poor man’s Ambien.  We all know that this should be read. And many of us keep trying. It’s our own…. yeah, you guessed it… Moby Dick (Insert groaning here.)

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2.  The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

More Viggo Mortensen would have made this seemingly-endless series more interesting for me. Skipping the endless “songs” moves things right along though. Save yourself some time and listen to some Zep to catch up on everything you need to know about what you glossed over.

paradisio

3.  Paradisio by Dante Alighieri 

Another popular snooze-fest, this comment sums up our feelings in general:

 “I can’t finish Paradisio. The torments of The Inferno and even Purgatorio appeal to my sense of schadenfreude, but people in heaven and Beatrice? BO-RING.”

king_stack

4.  Anything by Stephen King 

I must say, in King’s defense, that his text On Writing  is one of my favorites. However, King, to me, and many others, is like the Costco of literature. Do you really need that giant box of paper towels? Or that giant stack of largely interchangeable plots and characters?

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