Today's Books Are Too Long

Marc Wortman thinks Google is partly to blame

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 22, 2012 1:38 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Marc Wortman has several books he keeps meaning to get to, including the recent biographies of Steve Jobs (630 pages), LBJ (736), George F. Kennan (800), and Malcolm X (608). The problem is, he has a life, too, and unless he devotes hours every day to the task, he'll never catch up with today's "big" books, he writes in the Daily Beast. Who's got time to truly read all this stuff? he wonders. Modern publishers and writers seemed to have confused intellectual weight with literal weight.

"Every life is epic, every historical moment a saga, every narrative a cosmos, no serious book less than monumental, and my reading life is but a finite one," writes Wortman. He blames Google for part of the problem. Research is so easy now that writers just keep packing in more and more information, even if they skimp on insight. Lazy editors seem incapable of reining them in and indifferent to readers' time. "Life is a busy place," writes Wortman, "but don't tell that to those who write big books." Read his full essay here.

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