What aren't you reading? By looking at the top 5 most highlighted passages via Kindle in each book, Jordan Ellenberg has figured out which books are most unread: Take the page numbers of a book's five top highlights, average them, and divide by the number of pages in the whole book. He calls the result the Hawking Index, after the much-unread Brief History of Time, though Piketty seems to have knocked Hawking off his throne (all five top highlights come in the first 26 pages, out of 700). Also, everyone finishes The Goldfinch. Previous attempts to figure out what is least finished have been conducted by Goodreads (#1: Catch-22), and by the Guardian in 2007 (which may explain why Vernon God Little is #1), which included helpful summaries. What have you not finished recently?
Trans women writers Jeanne Thornton, Imogen Binnie, Red Durkin and Casey Plett read from their recent works for Talks at Google. [more inside]
In his new book Ciphers, German photographer Christopher Gielen (previously) reveals haunting images of our endlessly repetitive development through aerial views of American urban sprawl. [more inside]
Without You I'm Nothing: The Believer looks at the memoirs of the wives and girlfriends of rock stars.
Compound Interest makes infographics [index] covering chemistry basics and the chemistry behind every day phenomena, like the aroma of books, cilantro, and cell phones. In time for the 4th of July, the chemistry behind fireworks: gunpowder and color. Over on tumblr, Compound Interest answers questions about chemistry, dispels myths (glowsticks, MSG), promotes science (bad science, the dose makes the poison ) and other... things. Compound Interest has also teamed up with the American Chemical Society to make videos (why does bacon smell so good?). [more inside]
The Wikipedia Entry for Guam, Retold as a YA Novel This is just one of several awesome literary parodies on The Toast lately. Some others: Ever French Novel Ever My Prestigious Literary Novel and Just A Normal Bestselling Teen Novel
Describing Dame Muriel Spark's oeuvre as "a body of work singular in its violence, formal inventiveness, and scorching opening lines," Parul Sehgal's What Muriel Spark Saw examines the enduring appeal and the mystery of Spark's fiction, particularly the "monstruous" women: "What hash Spark's characters make of those eternal debates over unlikable characters or unlikable women." [more inside]
From June 2013, a new scheme, Reading Well Books on Prescription will be available in libraries throughout England. This new scheme has been developed by The Reading Agency and The Society of Chief Librarians and aims to bring reading's healing benefits to the 6 million people with anxiety, depression and other mild to moderate mental health illnesses. There is growing evidence showing that self-help reading can help people with certain mental health conditions get better. Reading Well Books on Prescription will enable GPs and mental health professionals to prescribe patients cognitive behavioural therapy through a visit to the library. Here they can get books to help them understand and manage conditions from depression to chronic pain.More on the program from the Boston Globe. Previously.
Call Me Ishmael: call a number and leave a voicemail about a book you've loved and a story you've lived. Later, that anonymous voicemail will be transcribed and made into a short video for everyone to see.
"Childhood, as I knew it, was rife with secrecy and weirdness, with actions that made sense to you but not anybody else. It’s no wonder that I fell in love with Moomin." Alex Ohlin writes about Tove Jansson and Moomin, for The Millions. [more inside]
Publishers Weekly: "What MTV did for music videos and record sales, BookReels wants to do for book trailers and book sales." No, but they have collected about 3000 book trailers and interviews. New Yorker: The Awkward Art of Book Trailers: "Then there is the leading book-trailer auteur of our time, Gary Shteyngart." TheRumpus: Fantastic Book Trailers and the Reasons They’re So Good: "There tends to exist a general skepticism toward book trailers."
Musings on, in the age of digitization and photocopies and the dying off of old collectors, what it means to be a book collector by Johan Kugelberg of Boo-Hooray (the guy who cataloged Afrika Bambaataa's collection for Cornell University, and I can't believe there isn't a Previously for that!) [more inside]
This year's Women's Prize For Fiction has been won by A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. [more inside]
Amazon is deprecating books published by the French publisher Hachette after Hachette refused to drop wholesale prices to Amazon in recent negotiations. Per the NY Times, Amazon is reporting delays on Hachette books, increasing their prices, and suggesting alternatives. Hachette has maintained silence on the issue to their authors but royalty statements and examining their listings on Amazon reveals the truth. Affected authors and their professional associations are speaking out to pressure Amazon. Meanwhile, Amazon is raising the stakes by refusing to accept pre-orders for some books on Hachette imprints, including those by popular authors like Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).
A day in the life of New York City's public libraries: Traveling from borough to borough, this short documentary by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks reveals just how important the modern library is for millions of people. Why Libraries Matter.
CREW stands for Continuous Review Evaluation and Weeding, and the manual uses “crew” as a transitive verb, so one can talk about a library’s “crewing” its collection. It means weeding but doesn’t sound so harsh. [more inside]
Charles McNamara reviews Orbis Sensualium Pictus, the world's first picture book for children, in the Public Domain Review. If you care to instruct your own little ones on the subject of Stones, Potherbs, Flying Vermin, Bowels, and the Tormenting of Malefactors, the full book is available.
“If someone goes out on a limb and tries something different, and the book doesn’t sell, you know who to blame: the guy who didn’t put the acacia tree on the cover.” [more inside]
The literary novel as an art work and a narrative art form central to our culture is indeed dying before our eyes. Will Self on the future of the novel.
Who is Jon Snow's mother? What's up with the crazy seasons in Westeros? Why have the White Walkers returned after all this time? These questions and more have been the subject of much speculation and debate among fans of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire / Dunk and Egg universe for more than a decade. Fans have published their theories in forums, on fansites, and even as the occasional academic journal article. (Spoiler warning: All sources -- show, books, cut scenes, DVD special features, pre-released chapters, interviews, visions you got from a tree, etc. -- are fair game in this thread!) [more inside]
From grilled kidneys to gruel to open faced sandwiches to sliced up grapefruits, photos of literature's most memorable meals.
Shakespeare Jest-Books: Reprints of the Early and Very Rare Jest-Books Supposed to Have Been Used by Shakespeare.
Bonfire of the Humanities. "Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West Africa’s most mythic locale." [Via] [more inside]
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]
Classic Book Titles with Sarcastic Quotation Marks [SLListicle]
Julianne Ross asks: Must Every YA Action Heroine Be Petite? Amy McCarthy asks a similar question: Why do all our young adult heroines look the same? Mandy Stewart also offers up her own advice: Be Divergent and Other Lessons for My Daughter. Interview with Veronica Roth on her book 'Insurgent' and feminism. [more inside]
The July 23, 1966 issue of Norman Cousins' The Saturday Review used 30 pages to focus on The New Computerized Age (Link to chapter PDFs), digitized and licensed for your enjoyment by Unz.org. [more inside]
Killing Conservative Books: The Shocking End Of A Publishing Gold Rush A decade ago, mainstream publishers became convinced they could make millions by churning out books for the right — and now the bubble may be bursting. (SLBuzzFeed)
Bored with basketball but want some Tournament action in your March-to-Early April? MentalFloss.com has collected* a list of (More Than) 11 OTHER March Madness Tournaments, covering books, music, TV, webcomics, various flavors of sci-fi and fantasy, plus bunny slippers, hot dog toppings, the (previously here) WORST Company in America and MORE! [more inside]
Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex [more inside]
"In 2011, when we blogged about the Shaftesbury Psalter (which may have belonged to Adeliza of Louvain; see below), we wrote that medieval manuscripts which had belonged to women were relatively rare survivals. This still remains true, but as we have reviewed our blog over the past few years, it has become clear that we must emphasize the relative nature of the rarity – we have posted literally dozens of times about manuscripts that were produced for, owned, or created by a number of medieval women." -- For International Womens' Day last week, the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts blog showcases a selection of manuscripts that belonged to some of the most remarkable women of the Middle Ages. [more inside]
This site has the aim of encouraging a wider reading of all types of literature, through a series of recipes inspired (directly or indirectly), by those works. It explores the ways in which descriptions of food are used to elicit meaning for a character trait, a foreign country, or social etiquette. [more inside]
Exactly what it says on the tin -- 40 Worst Book Covers and Titles Ever These things have got to be real, no one could ever dream this stuff up. [more inside]
The drama issues from the assailability of vital, tenacious men with their share of peculiarities who are neither mired in weakness nor made of stone and who, almost inevitably, are bowed by blurred moral vision, real and imaginary culpability, conflicting allegiances, urgent desires, uncontrollable longings, unworkable love, the culprit passion, the erotic trance, rage, self-division, betrayal, drastic loss, vestiges of innocence, fits of bitterness, lunatic entanglements, consequential misjudgment, understanding overwhelmed, protracted pain, false accusation, unremitting strife, illness, exhaustion, estrangement, derangement, aging, dying and, repeatedly, inescapable harm, the rude touch of the terrible surprise — unshrinking men stunned by the life one is defenseless against, including especially history: the unforeseen that is constantly recurring as the current moment.Philip Roth on his life as a writer.
Creative writing professor Hanif Kureishi says such courses are 'a waste of time' [The Guardian]
Buddha of Suburbia author, who teaches subject at Kingston University, added that many of his students could 'write sentences' but not tell stories.
Corpus Libris. Books and bodies.
"In an effort to correct the missteps of literary history, Bookslut has launched the Daphne, a prize for the best book published 50 years ago. Sure, there was a National Book Award in 1963 -- but Bookslut thinks it went to the wrong title." There will be excerpts, vintage cover art, old reviews and other ephemera from longlisted books on Spolia's Tumblr.
A few months ago, my husband and I decided to mix our books together. We had known each other for ten years, lived together for six, been married for five.
"As we near completion on the construction at the new Long Now space in Fort Mason, we are also building the collection of books that will reside here. We have named this collection The Manual for Civilization, and it will include the roughly 3000 books you would most want to rebuild civilization. ... So… If you were stranded on an island (or small hostile planetoid), what books would YOU want to have with you?" The Manual for Civilization begins. Previously, from 2010, on the project's announcement.
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]
The Getty has just opened its Virtual Library, where 250 book pdfs can be read online or downloaded. Some titles of interest include Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs, Between Two Earthquakes: Cultural Property in Seismic Zones and Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe. They follow the University of California Press, which released 700 books online for free yesterday, including 28 art history books.
"....many a tragic episode in family life is superinduced by the baleful influence of a tortured stomach. Mighty is the hand that holds the ballot-box, but mightier is the hand that wields to advantage the pepper-box, the salt-spoon, and the sugar-shaker." read the entirely of Maud C. Cooke's, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper; or, What To Eat and How To Prepare It (1897) online and enter a world of home remedies, large scale recipes, sound advice, leftover wizardry, squirrel stews, scientific digestion, and horrible things done to vegetables.
Adam Gorightly's Historia Discordia: "Documenting the Origins, History & Chaos of the Discordian Society". Features bios of the early Discordians, Greg "Malaclypse the Younger" Hill's Discordian newsletter, information on forthcoming books detailing the history of Discordianism and the contents of Greg Hill's collection of Discordian works and writings, and a running blog with tons of information on the early days of Discordianism.