Why Did Reading Become Competitive? Critical Linking, March 3, 2020

Critical Linking, a daily roundup of the most interesting bookish links from around the web is sponsored by Spirit Run by Noé Álvarez, on sale now from Catapult.


“Now, don’t get me wrong, I love reading and I can fully get behind John Waters’ sentiment – ‘If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!’ – provided said books aren’t turned the wrong way around as a minimal design statement. I enjoy getting reading recommendations from people I follow on Instagram but the competitive nature of it all can cause a serious case of comparisonitis. I’m not the only one to have felt this pressure upon seeing posts of stacks of finished books. “Our leisure time is such a competitive sport these days – all the prestigious prize book lists and the Netflix must-watches and the hot new box sets everyone’s talking about, not to mention all the top movies. I definitely feel that pressure, like I’m not keeping up if I haven’t read or watched it all!” one woman told me via Facebook. To borrow from Soraya Roberts’ 2019 essay, When Did Pop Culture Become Homework?: ‘When art is a should or a must or a have to, when we turn it into a chore, it is the opposite of what art is supposed to be.'”

Does social media make you feel pressured or competitive about your reading?


We invited Carty-Williams—who is also a books columnist at The Guardian—to name the foundational works she feels are must-reads. Below, in her own words, she revealed her personal picks for the best books by Black women.”

The author of Queenie just blessed your TBR with 16 awesome books to read.


“The superpower kind of invisibility that makes this story scary—allowing the villain to lurk unseen in the middle of a room or grab his victims unaware—remains far in the future. But the real science of making things invisible has come a long way since Wells’ 1897 book. Scientists have devised materials that bend light around an object, effectively causing it to disappear. They’ve used cameras to record and project images of what’s behind an object onto the object’s surface, making it appear like it’s not even there.

These technologies are far from perfect. Society has neither Harry Potter-esque invisibility cloaks nor potions that would turn the human body see-through. Today’s cloaking technologies might hide something from view, but only at certain angles. In other cases, they blur the background in a way that’s easily detectable or might work only for static objects. But invisibility tech keeps getting more clever.”

Invisibility is popular in fiction, but how close are scientists in real life? (And should we be giving humans this ability? Cause I trust none of y’all!)