Any of the better anthologies of 78s – Revenant’s “American Primitive” volumes, Old Hat Records’ “Down in the Basement,” anything produced, compiled, or contributed to by Christopher King – serve as a stunning refutation of homogenized mass culture. “Authenticity” is the word that usually gets tossed around by everyone from casual fan to connoisseur, but in this case it’s true, and it is rare to find anyone not shaken by hearing recorded music free of technological manipulations and mass-market compromises. These are transmissions from a lost world, and the boundless range of idiosyncratic regional voices, heard through decades of accumulated crackle and hiss, often sounds like messages from American’s collective unconscious. Add to that the pathos of the records having barely survived a largely indifferent populace, poor storage and the savagery of worn Victrola needles…

“One thing I came to realize after college was that the search for purpose is really a search for a place, not an idea,’’ Gawande told the crowd of approximately 33,000 graduates, family and friends. “It is a search for a location in the world where you want to be part of making things better for others in our own small way.

“…If you find yourself in a place where you stop caring — where your greatest concern becomes only you — get out of there. You want to put yourself in a place that suits who you are, links you to others and gives you a purpose larger than yourself in some way.”

It is still the place where risks can be taken. When on Earth did the West End ever do a new play which hadn’t been developed somewhere else – usually at the National or the Royal Court or the regions? Commercial managements just don’t take that sort of risk. My West End producer used to say to me, ‘We’re in the giggle business, darling.’ And I’d sort of agree with him, but while I’m all for giggles, I’d also hope that some of what we do would be remembered for a little bit more than just that.

Stevereads on BookTube

Steve Donoghue at Stevereads writes about BookTube, a YouTube community devoted to booklovers. It's a fun survey of what he loves, dislikes, and questions about the community (why do so many of the vloggers tout Young Adult novels?). But his joy in the community is in their joy at sharing what they love, particularly the contents of their bookshelves and their bookhauls. Steve shares his own pile o' books from a single day's trawling and it's truly breathtaking. I adore his aside that he doesn't keep a TBR ("to be read") pile, because they will all get read.

His haul reminds me of my 20s and 30s when my friend Scott and I would do a book-crawl through all the used bookstores in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. I would often trudge home with bags o' books, less than half of which I ever read, probably. For me, it was always the thrill of the hunt and the serendipitous discovery -- the actual sitting down and reading always seemed a little more dutiful and less fun. Which for a booklover and reader like myself is an odd thing to say, but kind of true. I had more time to read then, I think, but used it less.

In my defense, when my obsession for a particular author or subject took me over -- like Chekhov or Hazlitt or Kotzwinkle or Montaigne or Delacroix -- I would scarf down whatever I could till only crumbs were left.