On Browsing

By (author): Jason Guriel

Nominated for the 2023 Heritage Toronto Book Award

A defense of the dying art of losing an afternoon—and gaining new appreciation—amidst the bins and shelves of bricks-and-mortar shops.

Written during the pandemic, when the world was marooned at home and consigned to scrolling screens, On Browsing’s essays chronicle what we’ve lost through online shopping, streaming, and the relentless digitization of culture. The latest in the Field Notes series, On Browsing is an elegy for physical media, a polemic in defense of perusing the world in person, and a love letter to the dying practice of scanning bookshelves, combing CD bins, and losing yourself in the stacks.

Jason Guriel

Jason Guriel

Jason Guriel is the author of several collections of poems and a book of essays. His writing has appeared in Slate, The Atlantic, and other magazines. He lives in Toronto.


Praise for On Browsing

“Why don’t you reminisce with Jason Guriel about the vanishing art of browsing? Along with the expected celebrations of old-fashioned bookshops and record stores, it also contains a tart incidental riff on the deficiencies (in Guriel’s opinion) of his native Canada’s poetry scene: ‘A duty read. A pity read. It demanded patriotism and kid gloves.'”
—Gregory Cowles, New York Times

“Jason Guriel’s On Browsing offers a personal ‘browser history’ that reveals the author as much as it elegizes the habit of sifting through physical copies of music, books, and movies.”
—Literary Review of Canada

“Browsing is many things: a lifestyle, a relaxation, a revelation if your search finds a long-sought book or a rare recording, and perhaps more importantly a soul-refreshing excursion in a world of instant online search-and-buy options.”
—Winnipeg Free Press

“We need the voices of those like Guriel in our midst.”
—Literary Matters

“Guriel’s browsing minds court multisensory and memorable run-ins with reality, where text and context meld to generate irreducibly personal meanings. […] Guriel wants us to remember that, as human beings, we have deep, direct, innate access to ‘human and humanist’ values.”
—Fare Forward

“The value of boredom and browsing stores get an articulate and concise summary in On Browsing by Jason Guriel.”
—The Fiddlehead

“‘Our choices are chisels,’ says Jason Guriel. This moving book will fill you with a good kind of sadness and help you understand your own nostalgias.”
—Nicholson Baker, author of The Mezzanine

“A mall parking lot, a defunct record store, the lingering crease on a book cover—across the all-flattening boundary of the digital age, Guriel recalls what it meant to access the universal one particular, physical piece at a time.”
—Tom Scocca, author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future

“A collection of little essays that […] articulately brings together reasons for why we love—and should seek to celebrate and maintain—browsing.”
—Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome

Praise for Forgotten Work

“A futuristic dystopian rock novel in rhymed couplets, this rollicking book is as unlikely, audacious and ingenious as the premise suggests.”
—New York Times

“A wondrous novel.”
—Ron Charles, Washington Post

“What do you get when you throw John Shade, Nick Drake, Don Juan, Sarah Records, and Philip K. Dick into a rhymed couplet machine? Equal parts memory and forgetting, detritus and elegy, imagination and fancy, Forgotten Work could be the most singular novel-in-verse since Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate. Thanks to Jason Guriel’s dexterity in metaphor-making, I found myself stopping and rereading every five lines or so, to affirm my surprise and delight.”
—Stephen Metcalf

“This book has no business being as good as it is. Heroic couplets in the twenty-first century? It’s not a promising idea, but Forgotten Work is intelligent, fluent, funny, and wholly original. I can’t believe it exists.”
—Christian Wiman


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112 Pages
7.75in * 4.25in * 0.30in


October 04, 2022





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