12 authors write about the libraries they love

Neil Gaiman and 11 other authors write about the libraries they love:

Still, if there is a heaven, one of the many mansions it must contain is a red brick Victorian building, all wood and shelves, waiting for me. And the shelves will be filled with books by beloved authors, as good as or better than the ones I knew. I will read my way through the adult library, and then, to attain perfect bliss, I will enter the children’s library, and never need to leave it. Not even to eat my sandwiches in the parking lot.

Niina Pollari on Minor Gains

Niina Pollari on Minor Gains:

Three things about weightlifting drew me in: its relative solitude; the tangible results (mostly pain) that followed; and the slightly transgressive way it felt to be a woman near the free weights. (Though numbers of non-male lifters seem to be on the rise, we’re still far from the majority.)

Maybe I’m just looking for some feelings-based narrative in weightlifting because my gender dictates that I’m an emotional creature who falls in love with everything.

Emotional arcs and storytelling exist in writing about other physical activities—running is the best example. Runners who write seem gifted at linking motion with writing. The process of putting distance behind you with just your own two feet lends itself easily to an essay about strong dedication. The one-two pattern of feet on the ground mimics both the heartbeat and the iambic structure of English speech, which makes running easy enough to relate to craft. (Haruki Murakami wrote an entire book about it.) Running, particularly as a practice for writers, has gathered for itself a nobly meditative reputation. But what if what I love is something other than endurance, than distance? I’m a poet, I tell myself. I don’t deal in distance.

But the satisfaction I get out of the action of lifting weight is a different kind. It’s the same kind of joy that I get out of following a calm, caring routine week after week with the partner who shares my space with me. The transformative power of love is that it builds over time. When it works, love is comprised of the mutual interwoven patterns of its participants.

Pico Iyer on the tyranny of the moment

Pico Iyer on the tyranny of the moment:

As planned obsolescence moves at the speed of light -- in Japan, where I write this, the "Royal Milk Tea"-flavored KitKat I fell in love with last week is already gone from the shelves -- I sometimes think that all we hunger for is liberation from the moment, and anything that will release us from the swarming, cacophonous, surround-sound, 24/7 dictatorship of Right Now. So long as we are human, we will always long for touching that part of ourselves -- or of one another and our world -- that doesn't have a date-stamp on it.
So might books actually have a reason for being after all? A few days ago, I conducted a small experiment in my two-room apartment here in rural Japan. I spent two hours clicking through what are among the most literary and unhurried of the alternatives to books, the online versions of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. I came away with delectable snippets of information about Richard Holbrooke, American schools and the Obama campaign. I could talk now about any of these matters of current interest at a dinner-party with three minutes' worth of wisdom. But I also felt, as I logged off, a little as I did when I worked four blocks from Times Square: wildly stimulated, excitingly up-to-the-moment, alive with ideas -- and with no time or space to hear myself think.

Amanda Palmer on Art, Love, Loneliness, Motherhood, Vulnerability, Trust, and Our Lifelong Quest to Feel Real

Amanda Palmer on Art, Love, Loneliness, Motherhood, Vulnerability, Trust, and Our Lifelong Quest to Feel Real:

We think that we’re all very connected, we think that we’re all very communicative. But when you actually strip it down, there’s a lot wrong. And the proof is in the pudding — you have a whole society of people who are depressed and insecure and anxious and paranoid and worried … and, fundamentally, feeling very unseen… Maybe we’ve constructed culture in a way that people are not feeling recognized, loved, accepted, happy with their place in society… What have we done to create such unhappiness? 

The Future of Art

Douglas Coupland on The Future of Art:

The battle of what it means to be an individual human being has never been so heightened: the ever-escalating clash between modernity and eternity; jihad versus McWorld; heaven versus nothingness; science versus religion; feeling versus thinking, or whatever you want to label it. 

The intersection of literature and tech

Lacey Williams Henschel on the intersection of literature and tech:

When you're writing good tests, you're doing world building: Accessibility requires empathy, and empathy requires imagination. You can leverage that awesome feeling you get when you get lost in a book and identify with the main character by putting yourself in the shoes of the people using your code. Imagine their struggles and frustrations. Create a persona for them. Fix the things that hinder or annoy them about your app.

Solnit on the value of darkness and the unknown

Rebecca Solnit on embracing the inexplicable:

Most people are afraid of the dark. Literally when it comes to children, while many adults fear, above all, the darkness that is the unknown, the unseeable, the obscure. And yet the night in which distinctions and definitions cannot be readily made is the same night in which love is made, in which things merge, change, become enchanted, aroused, impregnated, possessed, released, renewed.
As I began writing this essay, I picked up a book on wilderness survival by Laurence Gonzalez and found in it this telling sentence: “The plan, a memory of the future, tries on reality to see if it fits.” His point is that when the two seem incompatible we often hang onto the plan, ignore the warnings reality offers us, and so plunge into trouble. Afraid of the darkness of the unknown, the spaces in which we see only dimly, we often choose the darkness of closed eyes, of obliviousness. Gonzalez adds, “Researchers point out that people tend to take any information as confirmation of their mental models. We are by nature optimists, if optimism means that we believe we see the world as it is. And under the influence of a plan, it’s easy to see what we want to see.” It’s the job of writers and explorers to see more, to travel light when it comes to preconception, to go into the dark with their eyes open.

Leonard Cohen on Creativity

From Brain Pickings - Leonard Cohen on Creativity:

Considering his ongoing interest in the process itself rather than the outcome, Leonard Cohen makes a case for the art of self-renewal by exploring the deeper rewards and gratifications that have kept him going for half a century:

It [has] to do with two things. One is economic urgency. I just never made enough money to say, “Oh, man, I think I’m gonna get a yacht now and scuba-dive.” I never had those kinds of funds available to me to make radical decisions about what I might do in life. Besides that, I was trained in what later became known as the Montreal School of Poetry. Before there were prizes, before there were grants, before there were even girls who cared about what I did. We would meet, a loosely defined group of people. There were no prizes, as I said, no rewards other than the work itself. We would read each other poems. We were passionately involved with poems and our lives were involved with this occupation…
We had in our minds the examples of poets who continued to work their whole lives. There was never any sense of a raid on the marketplace, that you should come up with a hit and get out. That kind of sensibility simply did not take root in my mind until very recently…
So I always had the sense of being in this for keeps, if your health lasts you. And you’re fortunate enough to have the days at your disposal so you can keep on doing this. I never had the sense that there was an end.