The story revolves around a portrait of Dorian Gray painted by Basil Hallward, a friend of Dorian’s and an artist infatuated with Dorian’s beauty. Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton and is soon enthralled by the aristocrat’s hedonistic worldview: that beauty and sensual fulfillment are the only things worth pursuing in life. Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied amoral experiences while staying young and beautiful; all the while, his portrait ages and visually records every one of Dorian’s sins.[3]

Wilde’s only novel, it was subject to much controversy and criticism in its time but has come to be recognized as a classic of gothic literature.

Although I had always had a copy of Oscar Wilde’s collect works, I had never actually read any of it. I really enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is interesting to consider how the book, with its opium dens, hedonism and homosexual desire, would have been received when it was first the release. The dialogue reminded me of Marcel Proust, but with a gothic twist.  I think that I could easily re-read it just for the quotes.

The gay strain in Wilde’s work is part of a larger war on convention. In the 1889 story “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.,” a pseudo-scholarly, metafictional investigation of Shakespeare’s sonnets to a boy, Wilde slyly suggests that the pillar of British literature was something other than an ordinary family man. In the 1891 play “Salomé,” Wilde expands a Biblical anecdote into a sumptuous panorama of decadence. Anarchists of the fin de siècle, especially in Germany, considered Wilde one of their own: Gustav Landauer hailed Wilde as the English Nietzsche. Thomas Mann expanded on the analogy, observing that various lines of Wilde might have come from Nietzsche (“There is no reality in things apart from their experiences”) and that various lines of Nietzsche might have come from Wilde (“We are basically inclined to maintain that the falsest judgments are the most indispensable to us”). Nietzsche and Wilde were, in Mann’s view, “rebels in the name of beauty.”

Replied to 25 Books Every Technologist Should Read (

Over the last 40 years of my education as a technologist I find myself returning to some of the same texts over and over. As I have taught workshops over the years, I’m sometimes amazed how unfamiliar people are with some of these texts even as they try to implement technology solutions either as IT practitioners or users of technology. Technology fails because we don’t think deeply about what we’re doing before trying to graft a “solution” onto a problem we don’t really understand. These books are designed to make you think differently about how you apply technology. I will build this page one book at a time so watch this space as new titles emerge over the coming months.

Is that what I am, a technologist? I think that the sad reality is that we can never really read enough.
Bookmarked Books Become Games by Justin E. H. Smith (Justin E. H. Smith's Hinternet)

On the face of it, the gamification of reality looks like fun. But when everything becomes a game, it turns out, that game ends up dissolving into its merely apparent opposite: work. The dupes of the new ideology, underlain by the metaphor of the game, think they’re giving us life in an arcade —a child’s dream!— but what we’re really getting is life in a global warehouse, monitored and metricized, forced at every turn to devise strategies that maximize engagement with whatever it is we’re putting out there… all in the name of scraping by.

Whether it be reviews written based upon promotional copy, responding to random podcast requests or competing with Amazon ‘study guides’, Justin Smith reflects upon the way in which the the publishing of books has become a game.

This reminds me of Cory Doctorow’s reflection on the challenges of self-publishing, as well as C. Thi Nguyen’s discussion of the problems with the gamification of social media.

Liked Re: Writing A Book Is Nonesense by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

If you read Irene Vallejo’s Papyrus (don’t worry, it’s an academic!), you’ll learn that books did not (only) originate as a way to preserve knowledge. Sometimes, knowledge is boring. And we’re not even talking about fiction yet.

There’s a lot of crap out there. That statement is true beyond the context of books. Sifting and decision-making while buying is up to you. To ignore everything but academic authors when it comes to non-fiction is just ridiculous.

Liked (

This book is the result of a belief: that “digital” fundamentally alters the mechanics of publishing books. There is much talk about this shift in the publishing world — a calendar filled with conferences, a blogosphere popping with opinion, and not a few op-eds and even books on this very top…

“Hugh McGuire” in 👍 What is a “book” in the age of the web? | Read Write Collect ()
Liked What is a “book” in the age of the web? (Part 1 of 5) by Hugh McGuire (Medium)

In “Opening the Book”, a 2012 presentation I delivered at the late/great Books in Browsers conference, I offered this definition of a book:

A book is a discrete collection of text (and other media) that is designed by an author(s) as an internally complete representation of an idea, or set of ideas; emotion or set of emotions; and transmitted to readers in various formats.

Replied to Why Novels Will Destroy Your Mind – Clive Thompson – Medium by Clive Thompson (Medium)

Sure, novels didn’t turn generations of young women into energetic homewreckers. They didn’t transform young men into generations of wall-eyed murderers, either.

But religious authorities were correct that something was stirring in the deep waters of culture. Novels really do change you. They focus your attention on the deep interiority of the characters, letting you both empathize with human lives while also standing askance from them, studying them from a slightly alien perspective. They might make us more empathetic. They almost certainly attune us to the psychologies that propel everyday behavior. They can massively expand our intellectual vistas — giving us the visionary power that Northrop Frye called “the educated imagination”.

Personally speaking, I have turned to novels during lockdown to ‘destroy my mind’, a mind encapsulated by monotony. I have found that they have provided an escape from the mundane.
Bookmarked 50 Great Classic Novels Under 200 Pages (Literary Hub)

We are now past the mid-way point in February, which is technically the shortest month, but is also the one that—for me, anyway—feels the longest. Especially this year, for all of the reasons that you already know. At this point, if you keep monthly reading goals, even vague ones, you may be looking for few a good, short novels to knock out in an afternoon or two. Last year, I wrote about the best contemporary novels under 200 pages, so now I must turn my attention to my favorite short classics—which represent the quickest and cheapest way, I can tell you in my salesman voice, to become “well-read.”

Emily Temple follows up her list of 50 short contemporary novels with a focus on class novels.
Liked David Epstein’s Range – Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

One way you know if a book is any good is if you are still thinking about it a year after you read it. (Or five years, or a decade, etc. The longer you think about a book the better you know it is.) Another way to know if a book is good is if it seems like every week you read an article that could be a supplementary chapter.

Bookmarked Why Do We Keep Reading The Great Gatsby? (The Paris Review)

‘The Great Gatsby’ is not a book about people, per se. Secretly, it’s a novel of ideas.

In an introduction to the Modern Library edition of The Great Gatsby, Wesley Morris explores the lasting legacy of the novel. Morris argues that it is the sort of novel that you can appreciate without having been there. Instead it is a novel which dives into the world of identity and mystery, a story with so many gaps that it entices us to reread to check. This is best captured in one sitting.

In one day, you can sit with the brutal awfulness of nearly every person in this book—booooo, Jordan; just boo. And Mr. Wolfsheim, shame on you, sir; Gatsby was your friend. In a day, you no longer have to wonder whether Daisy loved Gatsby back or whether “love” aptly describes what Gatsby felt in the first place. After all, The Great Gatsby is a classic of illusions and delusions. In a day, you reach those closing words about the boats, the current, and the past, and rather than allow them to haunt, you simply return to the first page and start all over again.

Sarah Churchwell, Philip McGowan, William Blazek and Melvyn Bragg talk about The Great Gatsby on the In Our Time podcast. They discuss Fitzgerald’s legacy and how it came to be so important within the American literacy canon.

For an audio version of the book, the team at NPR’s Planet Money have done a reading after the book was added to the Public Domain:

“Cory Doctorow” in Pluralistic: 18 Jan 2021 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow ()

Replied to

My vote for an inspiring book would be Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought. Maybe not a ‘pedagogical’ book, but definitely thought provoking in regards to how education and schools work.
Bookmarked Free Resources on MUSE During COVID-19 (

In response to the challenges created by the global public health crisis of COVID-19, Project MUSE is pleased to support its participating publishers in making scholarly content temporarily available for free on our platform. With many higher education institutions moving into an exclusively online learning environment for the foreseeable future, we hope that easy access to vetted research in the humanities and social sciences, from a variety of distinguished university presses, societies, and related not-for-profit publishers, will help to support teaching, learning, and knowledge discovery for users worldwide.

In response to the current crisis, Project Muse are providing free access to a range of publishers for a limited time. A list of the books can be found here, while a list of journals can be here.

via Public Books

Liked Lockdown reading list by Doug Belshaw (