Here’s the place to go if you would like to have books emailed to you in installments, at a frequency you set yourself. At first I strongly disliked this idea: I thought, “But what if I get to an end of an installment and still have the time and the inclination to read further?” On further reflection, though, I remembered that many of the books one might choose to read through this service — the novels of Dickens most notably — came originally on the installment plan. So in one sense this returns fiction to an early mode of delivery.

The pleasures of reading plot-driven books are often increased by such periodicity of encounter. During the Harry Potter Years I took delight in the periods between books when we fans could speculate about what was coming next. Conversely, when I recently read the massive cartoon epic Bone I found it thoroughly mediocre — but then suspected that I would have enjoyed it a good deal more if I had read it in its original installments and therefore had that time for speculation. So maybe the Daily Lit can exploit those pleasures.
Only for plot-driven books, though. Character studies require something more like immersion in their intellectual environment. Can you imagine trying to read Mrs. Dalloway at the rate of a few pages a week?

Text Patterns

December 1, 2010


  1. Thanks for your post, Alan. Glad to hear you've reconsidered books on the "installment plan". Just one note: on DailyLit, you can receive the next installment immediately if you have more time (and inclination) to read further.
    -Susan Danziger, founder, DailyLit

  2. One step closer to filling the Harry Potter-sized hole in my heart. Now if only I can get millions of other people to read a book this way at the same time and argue with me about their one-true-pairings…

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