Monday, October 13, 2014

For relentless readers: 10 links to groovy book lore

"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?"— Henry Ward Beecher

"A house without books is like a room without windows."— Horace Mann

Did you know that the average American household watches 42 hours of television per week? And that 40 percent of Americans reject evolution? (I guess they're not watching Cosmos). The vibrant illustration above is from a 1960s biology textbook. Those were the days!
Taking a stand for the enduring value of books and reading, today's Glean is devoted to 10 links I've collected that celebrate same, illustrated with sundry book-related images. Enjoy!
1.  Here's The Guardian on readers of fiction within fiction, including Roald Dahl's Matilda (left) and Mad Men's Joan Holloway (she reads Lady Chatterly's Lover, while Don Draper reads Portnoy's Complaint).
2.  Columnist Frank Bruni of the Dallas Morning News cites a report by Common Sense Media that 22% of 13-year-olds and 27 percent of 17-year-olds say they hardly ever or never read for pleasure (up from 8 and 9% 30 years ago). He goes on to cite several more research studies on the correlation between brainpower and being bookish, summarized flatly by The Guardian's Dan Hurley as “reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic.”
Alexander Benois De Stetto, Still Life with Books (1929)
3.  Independent bookstore Aaron's Books divulges 10 Ways Reading Improves Everything—which includes one of my favorites, listening to audiobooks while traveling, doing chores, or walking for exercise.
4.  Here comes flavorwire with no fewer than 50 essential mystery novels that everyone should read. Wowsa! They kick things off with Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles and continue with classics by Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith, Jo Nesbo, Edgar Allan Poe, Dashiel Hammett, et al. Did they omit any of your favorites? We usually have a quorum of the above on our website (Sherlock Holmes illustration by Rochelle Donald.)
5.  Here's a roundup by the CBC on five literary hoaxes, including some quite quirky poseurs (e.g., septuagenarian, white male Yale grad pens memoir of Mexican-American street kid).
6.  I kind of assume that if you're perusing this blog you have an awesome vocabulary and are somewhat of a bibliophile. So let's see how you stack up against the Huffington Post's "15 Words You Didn't Know Were Coined By Famous Writers." I think this might be the most delightful item on my entire compendium! I look forward to your favorites in the comments.
7.  Of ShortList's tally of classic works of literature being adapted for film, I'm most intrigued by Madame Bovary with Mia Wasikowska, Macbeth with Marion Cotillard as Lady M, Salomé with Jessica Chastain, and The Jungle Book (animated, with voices by Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, and Ben Kingsley).
8.  This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education talks about a digital, crowd-sourced project called Book Traces, which preserves interesting marginalia and inserts that 19th-century readers left in books.
9.  “I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper what one would say to the same person by word of mouth,” Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra on 3 January 1801, adding, “I have been talking to you almost as fast as I could the whole of this letter.” According to Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade at the Oxford University Press blog, Austen is believed to have written some 3,000 letters, only about 160 of which have survived, most of them addressed to Cassandra." I reckon her sister was Austen's ideal reader, and that the missives to her significantly helped the budding writer hone both her prose and her innate gift for satire.
10. In this Guardian list, author Gill Lewis picks special children's books featuring birds, including Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr; Silent Spring by Rachel Carson; and The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. (Molly Monday, these owls are for you!)


  1. One of the oldest readers of fiction in fiction is Francesca da Rimini, who was caught in flagrante with Paolo while reading the tale of Launcelot & Guinevere.
    Also, Edgar Allan Poe's House of Usher depicted the narrator and Roderick Usher reading a variety of obscure tomes, like the Belphegor of Machiavelli, or the comedy Vertvert, about a parrot who learns some very tart language.
    One of the pleasures of reading, #5, isn't about reading at all, but about pretending to read.
    As to the question of my favorite word, it's "undertoad",because the Chairman of the Board sings "I would be caught in the undertoad, so you see, I've got to say No, No! All or Nothing at all!"
    Well, maybe it was "undertow", but I can sing it undertoad--(I've Got You Under My Toad!)

    1. Once again, you've made me laugh, whist entertaining and enlightening ... you should really be on the masthead!

  2. Love this blog

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