Let’s talk about books! How, when, and what do you like to read? Have you ever thought about the history of books and reading? How about shape, size, or texture of your book? Where do books go after they’ve been digitized? Harvard University professor Leah Price asks these questions and more in her new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading
(Basic Books, 2019). Price begins her book by debunking the assumption that ebooks are more popular than print books, pointing out that in 2018 “sales revenue from hardbacks and paperbacks outstripped revenue from ebooks by more than $300 million.” She goes on to explore the history of books and reading from the changing social perceptions of reading, to reading on the move, to reading as method of political activism. Filled with cleverness and humor, Price surprises readers with interesting facts and anecdotes about books. As for the future of books and reading only time will tell, but Price believes that “the experience of immersion in a world made of words will survive if and only if readers continue to carve out places and times to have words with one another.”
is a Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature at Harvard University, where she teaches courses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, gender, fiction, and the history of books. Her books include How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain
and The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel
. She writes for the New York Times Book Review, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe
and Public Books
, where she is also a section editor. She is curious about what, where, when, and how we read. But most of all, she wants to know why.
Colin Mustful is the author of four historical novels about Minnesota’s settlement and Native history. He holds an MA in history and an MFA in creative writing. He is the founder and editor of a small independent press called History Through Fiction. You can learn more about Colin and his work at colinmustful.com.