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Dhcmrlchtdj!

The Library of Babel is online! Recently digitized classics include Rtvcdg Lxcxahssds Qgflvab mge Bjbpd Orrq, Dgqqjv Iqfold xpx Ljg vjd Vapdophr, and Vmcyogxmvyrnle Lgjmyqsh Hfmni Lyvvdahec Bajvp Hlibiov, which appears by the gracious permission of Lbtddnbdqh Pjnghbdtvmi. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 29, 2013 - 42 comments

Where You Are Is Where This Library Goes

The folks at Mellow Pages, a community-run library/salon in Brooklyn (recently profiled in the NYT), have put together a how-to guide for building a similar kind of space in your neighborhood: short version here, long version (and Google Doc) here.
posted by Cash4Lead on May 27, 2013 - 12 comments

Italo Calvino's Letters

The New Yorker is publishing excerpts from Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985, translated by Martin McLaughlin, on its book blog. (via) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on May 22, 2013 - 15 comments

from "proteaform" mass of modern learning to "faustian fustian" of words

Finnegans Wake, Joyce's famously unreadable masterpiece (read it online here), was considerably more readable in one of its earlier drafts. Watch Joyce cross out decipherable words and replace them with less decipherable ones! Watch him end, not with a whimper, but with a slightly less impressive whimper! Sadly, Shem's schoolbook, which in the finished version is a House of Leaves-esque compendium of side columns and footnotes, was not written until much later (according to the footnotes of that section). The introduction to this draft by David Hayman, who assembled it, is worth a read.
posted by Rory Marinich on May 20, 2013 - 54 comments

The Last of the Great Chained Libraries

"On a beautiful sunny day last week, the Turning Over a New Leaf project team decided to take a day off from the office to visit a spectacular chained library in the small town of Zutphen (located in the eastern part of the Netherlands). Built in 1564 as part of the church of St Walburga, it is one of only five chained libraries in the world that survive ‘intact’—that is, complete with the original books, chains, rods, and furniture."
posted by brundlefly on May 18, 2013 - 18 comments

"Learn as much by writing as by reading."

First editions, second thoughts. [The Guardian] "Interactive: From Amsterdam to Wolf Hall, Booker winners and bestsellers – authors annotate their own first editions.
posted by Fizz on May 18, 2013 - 2 comments

A Century of Proust

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Swann's Way, the New York Times is publishing a series of blog posts on In Search of Lost Time. (via) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on May 13, 2013 - 11 comments

“Don’t go around asking the question, ‘Is this character likeable?’

Claire Messud: “A woman’s rant” [National Post] "Over the last week, discussion surrounding Claire Messud’s new novel, The Woman Upstairs, has shifted from the book to an interview its author recently gave to Publishers Weekly, in which Messud took issue with the following question: “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” [more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 10, 2013 - 23 comments

And that absurd nom de plume! John le Carré, like some addled saint...

At Slate.com, Ted Scheinman has written a nice appreciation of John LeCarré. Confessions of a John le Carré Devotee
"...I could tell there was more than politics, class, and acts of stratospheric treason to be found in these pages. I adored the psychological acuity with which he roamed his characters’ heads..."

posted by Trochanter on May 9, 2013 - 18 comments

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

My Psychic Garburator by Margaret Atwood [The New York Review of Books]
"Most dreams of writers aren’t about dead people or writing, and—like everyone else’s dreams—they aren’t very memorable. They just seem to be the products of a psychic garburator chewing through the potato peels and coffee grounds of the day and burping them up to you as mush."
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 8, 2013 - 17 comments

A funny thing happened on the way to the funeral

The novel resurgence of independent bookstores. {Single page version} [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Apr 29, 2013 - 31 comments

RED: "Well, we ought to file that under Educational too. Oughtn't we?"

Guantánamo prison library for detainees. [tumblr] New York Times reporter Charlie Savage set up a Tumblr dedicated to cataloging some of the books available in the Guantánamo prison library for detainees.
posted by Fizz on Apr 28, 2013 - 37 comments

"Publishing is tremendously susceptible to the availability heuristic"

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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 27, 2013 - 62 comments

Bolaño Dia 2013

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]
posted by mattbucher on Apr 25, 2013 - 10 comments

Poor Seems Kind

On Sunday, Rachel Shteir, a theater professor at DePaul University, wrote a critique of three Chicago-focused books for the New York Times Book Review. Many Chicagoans were none too happy. [more inside]
posted by theuninvitedguest on Apr 24, 2013 - 32 comments

"I started to worry you'd never come."

One day, a small boy's holographic entertainment fails, so he heads out to explore the streets of abandoned shops outside. Down a forgotten alley he discovers the last ever bookshop. And inside, an ancient shopkeeper has been waiting over 25 years for a customer...The Last Bookshop
posted by Toekneesan on Apr 19, 2013 - 26 comments

Cats vs dogs

The Internet is cat; books are dog. "We're reading dogs and clicking cats."
posted by stbalbach on Apr 12, 2013 - 7 comments

For eccentric book-lovers with beards and cats

"..it is refreshing to see Jason Merkoski, a leader of the team that built Amazon's first Kindle, dispense with the usual techo-utopianism and say, “I think we’ve made a proverbial pact with the devil in digitizing our words.” [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Apr 9, 2013 - 90 comments

The dark side of the moon

When it first surfaced in 2005, it was hailed as 'the most important Galileo find in more than a century'. Then, in June 2012, news broke on the Ex Libris mailing list that the unique 'proof copy' of Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius containing his original drawings of the Moon was in fact a highly sophisticated forgery. The full story is still unclear, but the finger of suspicion points at Marino Massimo de Caro, who in his brief reign as director of the Girolamini Library in Naples removed thousands of rare books in what has been described as a 'premeditated, organised and brutal' sacking of the library. Meanwhile, experts are still marvelling at the quality of the forgery: "We’ve seen missing pages replaced in facsimile, but no one dreamed that an entire book could be forged, something that is now more easily possible because of modern technology."
posted by verstegan on Apr 4, 2013 - 12 comments

Turn the wheel and look to windward

Two of our finest authors, humanist and government critic, Iain [M] Banks is dying of cancer. His next novel will be his last. His books are a source of inspiration and joy for me and many other mefites.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Apr 3, 2013 - 223 comments

Yet another reason books are awesome.....as if we needed one.

Mining books to map emotions through a century. Emotion words aren't consistently used through time, it seems. Things got scary in the 80's.
posted by littleap71 on Apr 2, 2013 - 20 comments

Reading? Ain't Nobody Got Time That!

If the bird is the word, three must be the number. Do you feel you don't have time to read everything you want? What about establishing some ground rules?
posted by huguini on Apr 2, 2013 - 41 comments

Harriet the Spy, Queer Hero

"Reading Harriet the Spy today as an adult, I find a queer subtext throughout. Not only is Harriet the quintessential baby butch, but her best friends, Sport and Janie, run exactly contrary to gender stereotypes. Sport acts as the homemaker and nurturing caretaker of his novelist father, while Janie the scientist plans to blow up the world one day. It was as if Fitzhugh was telling us kids back in the sixties that you didn’t have to play by society’s rules, the first lesson a queer kid has to learn in order to be happy."
posted by mokin on Mar 30, 2013 - 74 comments

“I never attacked anyone weak."

Cult writer Renata Adler, whose novel Speedboat has been reissued by NYRB Classics, sits down for an interview with The Believer. [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Mar 29, 2013 - 6 comments

Amazon buys Goodreads

The social book site Goodreads has been acquired by Amazon. Many members are upset and uncertain what this means for site which has relied on members to do the work of building and maintaining their database. Amazon already owns Shelfari and has a 40% stake in LibraryThing, two competing sites.
posted by bongo_x on Mar 28, 2013 - 116 comments

friends sisters dance mean sick muddy yes? no! write read walk marry*

Cozy Classics are board book versions of classic novels, each story represented by 12 child-friendly words and 12 needle-felted illustrations, with the idea of developing "early literacy"—everything children know about reading and writing before they can actually do either. Current titles include Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, Les Miserables, and War and Peace, with Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist forthcoming. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Mar 22, 2013 - 15 comments

Ask Nicola

Nicola Griffith recommends good lesbian science fiction novels.
posted by Artw on Mar 19, 2013 - 50 comments

Thirty Years Later: The last self-help book.

Percy and Sagan in the Cosmos: On the 30th anniversary of "The Last Self-Help Book." "Lost in the Cosmos is the most peculiar book of Percy's career, and in my judgment his finest achievement. I read it when it first appeared, and if you had asked me at the time whether I expected the book to be relevant in 30 years, I probably would have said no. It seemed so topical, so of its moment; and how long could that moment last? But re-reading it in preparation for this essay I saw how little it matters that many people today will know nothing or nearly nothing about Phil Donahue or Carl Sagan. Their immediate heirs are with us every day when we turn on the TV." [more inside]
posted by resurrexit on Mar 18, 2013 - 15 comments

On Chicago Public Schools Censoring Persepolis's Images of Torture

Suffice it to say, Persepolis is quite a work. It’s a testament to the power of the graphic novel. The art’s simple linework helps the story feel unpretentious and direct. Persepolis was adapted as a 2007 French animated film, written and directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. Among other honors, it was nominated for an Academy Award. Why would someone want to ban such a book?
posted by Artw on Mar 16, 2013 - 33 comments

The Atlantic - Benj Edwards

The Copyright Rule We Need to Repeal If We Want to Preserve Our Cultural Heritage
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 15, 2013 - 34 comments

The Inscrutable Brilliance of Anne Carson

Famous writer Anne Carson on ice bats: "I made up ice bats, there is no such thing." (SLNYT) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Mar 14, 2013 - 34 comments

The duty of the satirist is to go one worse than reality

Five classic book reviews from the New Statesmen archive: Including V S Pritchett on Orwell's 1984, V S Naipaul on Memento Mori by Muriel Spark and Martin Amis on J G Ballard's High Rise.
posted by thatwhichfalls on Mar 14, 2013 - 4 comments

"The new creativity is pointing, not making."

Proudly Fraudulent: [The Awl] An Interview With MoMA's First Poet Laureate, Kenneth Goldsmith. [Previously] [Previously]
posted by Fizz on Mar 9, 2013 - 19 comments

"I'd like to thank God, who was super supportive during all this."

Thank You to the Author's Many, Many Important Friends - How the acknowledgments page became the place to drop names.
posted by Chrysostom on Mar 8, 2013 - 54 comments

The myth of universal love

"All people are not equally entitled to my time, affection, resources or moral duties." In his book "Against Fairness," (trailer) Stephen T. Asma argues in defense of favoritism and against universal love. "Whence then do we find morality and justice in an unfair world?" [more inside]
posted by mrgrimm on Feb 22, 2013 - 86 comments

The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike

Last August, a book titled "Leapfrogging" hit The Wall Street Journal's list of best-selling business titles upon its debut. The following week, sales of the book, written by first-time author Soren Kaplan, plunged 99% and it fell off the list. [...] But the short moment of glory doesn't always occur by luck alone. In the cases mentioned above, the authors hired a marketing firm that purchased books ahead of publication date, creating a spike in sales that landed titles on the lists.
posted by Chrysostom on Feb 22, 2013 - 26 comments

The New Essayists

"A talented writer such as John Jeremiah Sullivan might, fifty years ago, have tried to explore his complicated feelings about the South, and about race and class in America, by writing fiction, following in the footsteps of Walker Percy and Eudora Welty. Instead he produced a book of essays, called Pulphead, on the same themes; and the book was received with the kind of serious attention and critical acclaim that were once reserved for novels. But all is not as it seems. You do not have to read very far in the work of the new essayists to realize that the resurrection of the essay is in large measure a mirage." (via) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Feb 22, 2013 - 13 comments

Not suitable for ebooks

Flooded? A hurricane hit your house? Somebody left a cake book out in the rain and you'll never see that recipe again? Courtesy of Heritage Preservation: how to save wet books.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 21, 2013 - 9 comments

"His writing is not about something; it is that something itself."

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?"
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 19, 2013 - 18 comments

Rewarding The Poison Pen

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]
posted by zarq on Feb 18, 2013 - 71 comments

Cats:

walking on your shit... since the 15th century. (via)
posted by Namlit on Feb 18, 2013 - 32 comments

Ian McEwan's Uneasy Relationship With Fiction

When I Stop Believing in Fiction, by Ian McEwan
posted by rollick on Feb 16, 2013 - 15 comments

Influential- though vile and ponderous

Fifty Sci-Fi and Fantasy Works Every Socialist Should Read (by China Mieville)
posted by showbiz_liz on Feb 15, 2013 - 146 comments

BBC Radio 4 Book Club: 179 episodes now available online

Book Club. This 30-minute programme's been on Radio 4, the BBC's premier speech radio station, since 1998. Books are announced a month in advance, giving listeners a chance to read the chosen title before the discussion. James Naughtie then interviews the book's author about it in front of an audience of his (or her) readers, who also put questions of their own. My favourites from the programme's archive include Alan Bennet (Writing Home), Clive James (Unreliable Memoirs), Douglas Adams (a 1 hour special on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Elmore Leonard (Rum Punch), James Ellroy (Black Dahlia), PJ O'Rourke (Holidays in Hell) and Stephen Fry (The Hippopotamus). No doubt you'll have your own. [more inside]
posted by Paul Slade on Feb 12, 2013 - 8 comments

Pristine Condition! Super Fast Shipping! Five Stars!

Amazon contemplating the used ebook market. But will they still have used book coffee rings on the pages? [more inside]
posted by weeyin on Feb 7, 2013 - 69 comments

Dreams of Space

Dreams of Space. A blog featuring art from non-fiction children's space flight books 1945-1975. Lots of great graphics, from the realistic to the now fanciful. I must also point out the wonderful Czech pop-up book and A Trip to Outer Space With Santa.
posted by marxchivist on Feb 6, 2013 - 8 comments

The Bookstore Strikes Back

Ann Patchett opened a new independent bookstore in Nashville, despite being told that books are dead.
posted by reenum on Feb 6, 2013 - 93 comments

They do furnish a room

Bookish is a nifty new book recommendation engine.
posted by Chrysostom on Feb 5, 2013 - 38 comments

The shocking news that Goldman Sachs is greedy

"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."
posted by vidur on Feb 5, 2013 - 47 comments

An affected, narcissistic creep, but he’s also a genius.

Batman vs. Koolhaas. Critic Martin Filler reveals the true villain of DC's Batman: Death by Design.
posted by xowie on Feb 5, 2013 - 8 comments

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