Plowing the Dark, by Richard Powers

The abundance of ideas Richard Powers throws at readers can feel overwhelming. As I read this novel, Powers's seventh, I was tempted to try to identify each literary allusion or reference to popular culture. Yet, though Powers is one of our foremost novelists of ideas, his narratives engage our attention through characters who do more than toss around profound thoughts.


Faster, by James Gleick

Only a generation ago the settled opinion was that work would soon occupy fewer and fewer of our waking hours. We were bracing ourselves for the challenge of how to spend our increased leisure time. But it hasn't worked out that way. Instead, cellphones, laptops and PDAs tether us ever more firmly to the workplace.


How our minds have changed

Computers are changing the way we think. "Calm, focused, un­distracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts—the faster, the better." This is probably not a good thing, says Nicholas Carr.