Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Put Down Your Books

Let's try an exercise. Put down your books just for a second. Just set them down there next to you. They're not going anywhere. They'll be there when you get back. You don't even have to stop reading to participate here. Ok? Breathe.

Now sit down at your computer and get on line. Oh, wait, you're already there . So you're familiar already with reading online since you are, uh, doing it right now. Ok, good. I'm going to suggest that you do a little more online reading. Because there's some good stuff--really good stuff--you may be missing. It's the stuff collected by the news aggregator sites longform.org and longreads.com.

Some time ago I remember reading commentators who griped about the prospects of online reading. The computer, they said, was fine for blogs and tweets and facebook updates, but no one was ever going to sit at a screen and read anything longer than a few hundred words, and nothing that had been written more than a few hours before. You just couldn't have anything of depth on a computer screen. Plus, computers just play into our really short attention spans.

These people were wrong. (They're the kind of people who are often wrong, but keep saying stuff anyway.) Even as Twitter grows ever more popular, so does long form journalism on the web, and from long form.org and longreads.com, you get the best of it. The editors of both sites hit home runs day after day, week after week finding fascinating online articles from old print journalism stand-bys like The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and GQ and irreverent websites like Deadspin. Sometimes the two sites overlap, but not as often as you might think.

A couple of recent favorites, especially relevent, I think, to guys:
Oh, and you don't have to read these things on a computer screen either. Longform.org has an iPad app, and links to send articles to Kindle. If you have some other eReader, it's not too hard to use the RSS reader in a program like Calibre to get the articles on there, either (a pox on the all the eReader houses for not building RSS capabilities into their devices).

When you've had your fill of fantastic online articles, you may resume your book reading.

1 comment :

Lisa said...

Thanks for pointing out the piece about Homer at the Bat, which I enjoyed and which points to a on online version of a fantastic A. Bartlett Giamatti essay!