A couple readers have asked where I’ve been lately. The short answer is, “Writing for money.” So much writing-for-money that it crowds out other writing. I’m still reading—to me, reading and writing are always intimately connected—but all the excess words and attention have been going into proposals, and occasionally other projects, rather than to posts here. Hence the links posts: I’m still reading, something, and passing on the best stuff.
A friend and I have also been discussing the state of reading books in an age of distraction, and I’ve definitely noticed that a Kindle, Instapaper, and the many long-form sites out there are a killer confluence of technologies. At the margin I read much more long-form nonfiction than I used and fewer books than I used to. To be sure, I still read books and write them, but a book needs to be of higher quality than it once did if it’s to compete with the good, low-cost alternatives.
There are still many books that surpass this threshold. Insides Jokes and Seveneves come to mind. There are numerous others. The best books still reward re-reading in a way few articles do. The best books bring a sensibility and depth to a topic in a way few articles do. The trick is finding those books, which seems as hard as it’s ever been.