Tiny Books, Big Pleasures:
On Recent Trends in Publishing
toward the Tiny
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy
Snyder. Tim Duggan Books, 2017, 128 pp. (paper).
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Anchor
Books (rpt), 2015, 64 pp. (paper).
Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Penguin, 2017, 240 pp. (hardcover).
Inadvertent (Why I Write) by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Yale University Press,
2018, 104 pp. (hardcover).
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. Picador, 2012, 116 pp. (paper).
In the fall of 2017, I began to notice something alarming, even disturbing: I was reading less. It wasn’t something I was immediately aware of
but rather something I sensed, as I found myself reaching less frequently
for a book than for my smartphone. This decline in reading printed matter might also have been measured by the growing pile of unread books
on my bedside table and the dwindling number of new books, read or
unread, crossing the threshold into my apartment. For some nonreaders, this wouldn’t be cause for concern, but I had a PhD in English and
creative writing and taught writing and literature at the college level.
Just what in the world was happening?
At the same time that I was experiencing this shocking falling-off in
the amount of time spent on the printed word, I noticed the emergence
of square “tiny books,” just slightly bigger and squarer than the largest