By January 30, 2008 2 Comments Read More →

Will shorter books save reading?

In the Guardian‘s theblogbooks, Jean Hannah Edelstein attacks “sizeism” in fiction and suggests that novellas might be the perfect antidote to the reading public’s (supposedly) declining attention span:

And then I had an epiphany: could it be that we should look to classics like Ethan Frome to find the key to saving fiction from the worrisome tides of publishing sturm and drang, the statistics that indicate that people distracted by the trillions of choices provided by digital media are giving up on fiction? Might the way to stop our atrophied attention spans becoming terminally distracted be to simply publish more short books?

I’m in favor of shorter books in the same way that I’m in favor of 100-minute movies and 3-minute pop songs–works of art are usually made better by some judicious cutting. But I suspect that novellas have never caught on for the same reason short stories are dying out: because so many people view reading as being more like homework than a hobby, if they are going to read, they want to feel as though they’ve “accomplished something.”



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

2 Comments on "Will shorter books save reading?"

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  1. On Short Books | Library Stuff | January 30, 2008
  1.' John Miedema says:

    Will wider highways reduce traffic congestion, or just bring more traffic? Same lesson in reverse.

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