Some Thoughts on Periodicals and Books

Today’s Uni Watch post is another edition of “Question Time,” in which site creator Paul Lukas answers questions from readers about himself. For the first time, I sent in a question, which asked about his favorite New York City bookstore (it’s the fourth question listed).

His answer that while he likes bookstores (and he names the Strand as his favorite, which made me happy), he prefers newsstands and magazine shops struck me because his approach to print culture is so different from my own. This difference is of course not a bad thing, because as long as you are on the print side of the print/electronic wars you are my friend, and Lukas is one of my favorite writers because his work always makes me think, and frequently helps me to see things (often literally things, i.e., objects) in new ways. But Lukas’s answer made me think about why I am not nearly as attracted to the periodical realm of print culture as I am to the book realm. Part of the reason is that my job is to analyze books, and this reason would also explain Lukas’s preference: he’s a journalist, so he’s attracted to other workers in the trade.

But I have to admit that one of the other reasons I am attracted more to books than periodicals is that books feel more permanent. They can sit there on my shelf and tell the story of my intellectual pursuits over the years, and when I buy one I feel a sense of accomplishment, and get that adrenaline rush that capitalism trains us to have when we acquire goods. While I have subscribed to the New Yorker for more than ten years along with a smattering of other periodicals here and there, there isn’t that feeling of excitement when it arrives in the mail that there is when a package containing books does. In fact, though I enjoy reading the New Yorker, it often feels like a task that I have to get through rather than a recreational endeavor like reading a book. So my preference says something about my reading habits: I am more willing to lose myself in a book because I know I will have to invest a lot of time in it, whereas with a magazine I feel like it will only be a quick, disposable interaction.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: