In honor of National Library Week, Oxford University Press is making all of its non-journal products available online for free for the week of April 13th-19th, 2014. This includes the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Handbook series. [more inside]
On 10 April 1815, Tambora produced the largest eruption known on the planet during the past 10,000 years. As described in Gillen D'Arcy Wood's new book, the explosion was only the first dose of Tambora's destructive power. In terms of its enduring presence in folklore, as well as its status in the scientific literature, 1816’s cold summer was the most significant meteorological event of the nineteenth century. After the tsunami and famine came cholera, opium, and failed Arctic expeditions. [more inside]
Classic Book Titles with Sarcastic Quotation Marks [SLListicle]
Late in 2013, Guillermo del Toro released a voluminous book, entitled Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions. As he explains in the video, the 256-page hardcover is a selection from his notebooks, where the director developed many of the monstrosities we’ve seen on screen. The Guardian notes that there’s something of da Vinci’s notebooks in del Toro’s records: the small, neat script, mixed in with the wonderfully detailed sketches, combine to give the impression of del Toro doing his best to record the torrent of his imagination before the thoughts disappear. In this post, we include a number of these images.Previously [more inside]
Medium has made available the first book-length content (perhaps) on its writing platform. Demanding Better Libraries For Today’s Complex World by R. David Lankes is cited as a 164 minute read. For works of this length, Medium offer a feature for bookmarking where you have read to. [more inside]
Celebrate author Laura Ingalls Wilder's 147th birthday with a recipe for Laura's Wedding Cake, taken from Little House Cookbook, Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories. (The Hairpin)
A new attempt to decipher the Voynich manuscript has been made - this time from a botanical perspective. The Voynich manuscript, is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The book has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer who purchased it in 1912.[Wiki]. [more inside]
Visiting the Big Apple? "Don't ask a pedestrian where a certain street is. He is usually too busy to stop, and if polite enough to stop, won't know. No New Yorker knows anything about New York." And another kind reminder: "Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable, notwithstanding and nevertheless. They are also smart." Advice from Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book, published in 1920. [more inside]
or the inner Grotesque and Gorgeous, and outer fantastic world of The End of Times: The Apocalyptic Book revealed, as it was imagined "couple" years ago. To be seen with your morning coffee.
Here she discovered photographs of several of the absent illuminations, a partial ownership history, and a surprising fact: Christie’s had listed the book as “APPARENTLY COMPLETE.” In other words, the devotional had been taken apart—“broken” is the industry term—not a hundred years ago, but within the last three years. Its leaves had been stripped for individual sale by a modern-day dealer. “I was almost physically sick,” Treharne told me. “I could not believe what I had in front of me.”
"If there is an assassination planned for the meal, then it is seemliest that the assassin should be seated next to he who is to become the subject of his craft" - Leonardo da Vinci: head of the kitchen, designer of horse-pulled nut-crushers, inventor of napkins, and assassination etiquette expert.
On January 21, The Days of Anna Madrigal, the last in the Tales of the City series, will be released. [more inside]
About the only place this book hasn't been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that's about to change. Because I'm going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that's how long it takes for a batch of my mother's Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I'm going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more. And I think it's fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote. - Dan Savage reviews Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
"Alt lit [previously] is accused of navel-gazing myopia, but technically any writing occurring outside of traditional institutions qualifies for the label. Everyone I know has written alt lit: every status update, every blog post, everything that has ever been said on Twitter. And Twitter, unbeknown to Jonathan Franzen, is especially literary...Which brings me to Heiko Julien," Author (and composer) of "I Am Ready To Die A Violent Death." [more inside]
Researchers have located a sunken World War II Imperial Japanese submarine on the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii. [more inside]
Shockheaded Peter (Struwwelpeter, Wikipedia), the classic 19th century German children's book of cautionary tales and grim fates, has been brought to deranged life through simple yet strange animation. [more inside]
In celebration of Halloween, The Dissolve has devoted three long posts to The Shining: a keynote examining the film and King's relationship to it, a staff discussion, and a critical comparison of the film with the 1997 TV miniseries written by King. (Scrubbed the show from your brain? Let this episode of Nostalgia Critic refresh your memory.)
Bras in Space: The Incredible True Story Behind Upcoming Film "Spacesuit"
When we think of the Apollo 11 moon landing, what do we think of? President Kennedy’s bold vision. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s heroism (unfortunately we rarely think about Command Module Pilot Michael Collins). Perhaps we even think of the incredible engineers, rocket scientists, astrophysicists and all the other geniuses at NASA who made it possible. Now we want you to think about your grandma’s bra.[more inside]
Infographic shows you how award-winning science fiction is born - From Jeff Vandermeer (and collaborators) Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Trailer, website, interview.
In February 1963, a new publication took advantage of the New York City printers strike and launched with a daring editorial: It does not, however, seek merely to fill the gap created by the printers’ strike in New York City but to take the opportunity which the strike has presented to publish the sort of literary journal which the editors and contributors feel is needed in America. The New York Review of Books is now 50. [more inside]
"Not very many people read. Most of them drag their knuckles around and quarrel and make money. We’re selling books. It’s a tiny little business. It doesn’t have to be Walmartized." Superagent Andrew Wylie, who represents Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Elmore Leonard, and Philip Roth, among others, talks about the future of publishing, his on-again-off-again relationship with Amazon, and "effete, educated snobs who read," with the New Republic.
The book that helped me understand my son. Author David Mitchell's introduction to The Reason I Jump, a newly-translated memoir by thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida on what it's like to have autism.
Conversations with Booksellers Extensive conversations with booksellers representing nine great American bookstores. From tiny Faulkner House Books in New Orleans to goliath Powell's City of Books in Portland, discussing issues relating to bookselling in these modern times.
The new central library of Birmingham (England), the largest public building of its type in Europe, is officially opened tomorrow by Malala Yousafzai. Reviews, pre-opening, have been largely positive [Independent] [Telegraph] [Guardian] [Residents] [Financial Times]. [more inside]
The pseudonymous author behind the critically-acclaimed mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling has been outed. And it's J. K. Rowling.
"A search that will save his love. A search that will save his life. A search that will save the world." Google Operating System uncovers an old Google/Airtel commercial from 2007 that references Indiana Jones (a bit) and is at least half as entertaining as Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. These were the tie-in billboards, here are the storyboards and this is a contemporary news article about the production.
Scarlett Johansson is suing the author of a best-selling French novel that features her “doppelgänger.”
"The American star is challenging writer Gregoire Delacourt, and his publisher JC Lattes, after he described a character in his novel as being her "doppelgänger", or exact double. The case — if it comes to court — could make legal and literary history."
The Houghton Library is Harvard's largest for rare books and manuscripts, and the tumbler currently showcases an image a day, with a link to the record in the online catalog for anyone who wants to know more about the source or come in to see it in person.
Teddy and Alice
What's a holometer?
Teddy and Alice
What's a holometer?
The Guardian has an excerpt of Neil Gaiman's latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. You can also watch him reading an excerpt of it, and he writes about it a bit (and links to several reviews) on his blog.
"One day I dreamed that my parents, my brothers and I went to visit three islands and I jumped into the water without protection," she wrote in her diary. "I felt like I could be in the water and not drown. I was curious and I swam into the deep water and then I saw my skeleton with my name written on it." Roger Omar collects children's dreams, and asks artists to illustrate them. [more inside]
Days after Hitler’s suicide a group of American soldiers, French prisoners, and, yes, German soldiers defended an Austrian castle against an SS division—the only time Germans and Allies fought together in World War II. Andrew Roberts on a story so wild that it has to be made into a movie.
51 words in the Oxford English Dictionary, including couchward, extemporize, fringy, revirginize and chappelled have quotes from the same source, a mysterious book published in 1852 called Meanderings of Memory, written and published by Nightlark, a "well-known connoisseur". There are only two evidences of the book's existence. If you happen to have a copy of Meanderings of Memory sitting on your shelf, please contact the OED [previous OED mystery].
What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being.[more inside]
Sunday, April 28, would have been Roberto Bolaño's 60th birthday. The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona is holding an event that day, in conjunction with their recent exhibit of Bolaño's archive, to celebrate the life and work of the writer. Or if you're not in Barcelona, the celebration is #DiaBolaño on twitter. [more inside]
A review of the 1971 novel "The Feminists," which portrayed the nightmarish future of 1992, where women ruled over men.
As a companion to his fascinating Raffles and the British Invasion of Java, Tim Hannigan has a blog — Footnotes and Sidelights from the Story of the British Interregnum in Java, wherein he shares interesting stories that could not find space in the published book. [more inside]
The lack of female road narratives and why it matters Whereas a man on the road might be seen as potentially dangerous, potentially adventurous, or potentially hapless, in all cases the discourse is one of potential. When a man steps onto the road, his journey begins. When a woman steps onto that same road, hers ends.
“Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning” This best selling book by Lars Mytting highlights a passion for firewood and inspired a TV program in Norway about cutting, stacking and burning firewood. The TV program, on the topic of firewood, consisted mostly of people in parkas chatting and chopping in the woods and then eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. Yet no sooner had it begun, on prime time on Friday night, than the angry responses came pouring in. “We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the program,” said [Mr.] Mytting .... “Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down."
In theory: the unread and the unreadable - "We measure our lives with unread books – and 'difficult' works can induce the most guilt. How should we view this challenge?"
The Omnivore's Hatchet Job of the Year rewards "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past 12 months," with the winning critic taking home a golden hatchet and a year's supply of potted shrimp. 2013's winner: Camilla Long, for her devastating review of Rachel Cusk's divorce memoir, Aftermath. Among other things, she described it as a nasty, bizarre memoir written by a "brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist." (Via) [more inside]
Ann Patchett opened a new independent bookstore in Nashville, despite being told that books are dead.
"Twenty five years ago I quit a job on Wall Street to write a book about Wall Street. Since then, every year or so, UPS has delivered to me a book more or less like my own, written by some Wall Street insider and promising to blow the lid off the place, and reveal its inner workings, and so on. By now, you might think, this game should be over. The reading public would know all it needed to know about Wall Street, and the publishing industry would be forced to look to some other industry for shocking confessions from insiders. Somehow this isn't the case."