This fortnight on the bookish internet

I didn’t feel like posting a round-up of bookish links last week because of the election. So, here’s me catching up.

  • D.J. Taylor discusses the history of tone in book reviews and how the “hatchet job” goes in and out of fashion. (The New Statesman)
  • Joan Bertin and Millie Davis asked teens what banned books have meant to them and helped them. This compilation of quotations is powerful evidence of why we need difficult books: they help us grow up. (Boing Boing)
  • Have you ever heard of beta readers? Priya Sridhar explains this important, but rarely discussed, stage of book writing. (Book Riot)
  • Alaina Leary ponders disability in literature: how we get it wrong, how publishing gets it wrong, and how to improve. (The Establishment)
  • Amanda Diehl explains how becoming a regular library user helps her cope with her workaholic tendencies. I love a good “How I discovered the library” story. (Book Riot)

This week on the bookish internet

  • Michelle Anne Schingler reflects on reading The Handmaid’s Tale in a time when the dystopia looks less and less far-fetched. (Book Riot)
  • Frank Furedi discusses the history of “the bookish fool,” people who collect books for status and not for the pleasure of reading them. (Aeon)
  • Brandi Bailey reevaluates her reading life. (Book Riot)
  • Megan Rosenblum shares the macabre and fascinating history of anthropodermic bibliopegy: the creation of books bound in human skin. Most people I mention this practice to get immediately squicked out. For some reason, they can’t see the appeal of becoming a book after they’re done with their skin. (Lapham’s Quarterly)

This week on the bookish internet

  • Bronwyn Lovell drops some knowledge on people who argue that science fiction doesn’t have a problem with sexism. (The Digital Reader)
    • If nothing else, read through this for the sexist review of Frankenstein from 1818.
  • Ed Simon reveals that literary hoaxes go back a lot further than anyone may have realized. (LitHub)
  • S. Zainab Williams eulogizes the books she loves but will never re-read. (Book Riot)
  • I try not to get political on this blog (unless it’s to do with books), but the #TrumpBookReport is too funny not to share. (Moby Lives)
  • Rocky Rakovic shares some Uber reviews of literary journeys. (McSweeney’s)

This week on the bookish internet

  • Between the late 1880s and his death, Dr. Orville Ward Owen searched for the “real” author of Shakespeare’s plays. At one point, he grew so obsessed that he build a cipher wheel to decode Shakespeare’s plays. (mental_floss)
  • Rachel Hennessy shares how she lost and regained her faith in the power of literature to make a difference. (LitHub)
  • Yiyun Li shares some of her bookish memories from childhood. I know these many of these feels! (Granta)
  • Zoe Dickinson, unlike most readers, does not hoard books like a book dragon. Too many moves. Instead, her shelves are full of books that are “old friends.” (Book Riot)
  • Paul Ringel argues (rightly, I think) that banning books does children no favors. “Protecting” children from “inappropriate” books is misguided and potentially damaging. (The Atlantic)

This week on the bookish internet

  • Dashka Slate reflects on a heretofore unexamined wrinkle in the push for diverse children’s literature: how should diversity be portrayed? (Mother Jones)
  • When people ask me what I read for fun I have a hard time giving a concise answer. Tracy Shipley’s not-concise answer is more eloquent than mine. (Book Riot)
  • Steven Price reflects on having Ellen Seligman as his editor. (Hazlitt)
    • I was particularly moved by this passage:
      • “[Ellen] believed the nature of words mattered because a work of literature, to her, was folded seamlessly out of the language itself. One needed to get it right and the only true obstacle to that was giving up, giving in, too soon..I believe a great part of her gift lay in an endlessly elastic ability to adapt and re-examine how a novel moved and came to life. It was a kind of alchemy, a fluid gesture.”

This week on the bookish internet

  • These stories explain why bibliophiles are so reluctant to lend their books. (Book Riot)
  • Jonathan Sturgeon explores the “Imperial Self” in American literary fiction, which I think helps explain why so much recent lit-fic is so tone deaf about, well, everything. (LitHub)
  • Good Housekeeping rounded up the best-selling novels from 1930 on so that we can see which book was a hit the year we were born. (Mine is Cujo. Go ahead and make your jokes.)
  • I will never get tired of prescriptivists getting smacked down by people who know better about language. (Buzzfeed)
  • Elizabeth Vail has written the best take down of the “talking to women wearing headphones” article I’ve seen yet. Enjoy this guide to talking to women reading romance novels. (Heroes and Heartbreakers)

This week on the bookish internet

  • James Wallace Harris proposes his ideal ultimate book review site. (Book Riot)
  • Ursula Le Guin will now be published in the Library of America series. (The New York Times)
  • Shara Lee has some seriously good advice for tackling your first doorstopper of a Russian novel. (Book Riot)
  • It shouldn’t be, but it’s always a delightful surprise when I learn about highly specific, book-related words. James Harbeck explains the cumdach. (Sesquiotica)

This week on the bookish internet

  • People think of librarians as quiet, reclusive people, but we weren’t always. Lauren Young shares the shenanigans as the Library of Alexandria and the Library of Pergamum fought for books and scholarship. (Atlas Obscura)
  • After a lot of suggestions about persistence, one of the most frequently offered pieces of advice writers receive is not to read their reviews. Curtis Sittenfeld reads reviews of her books anyway. Jennifer Senior asked Sittenfeld about her experience. (The New York Times)
  • Tiffani Willis explains how Charlie Brown got her to read the Russian greats. (Book Riot)
  • If the Rabid and Sad Puppies want to win book awards, they should champion better books. Damien Walter read some of the books on the Puppies’ slate and found them absolutely dreadful. (The Guardian)
  • Cameron Hunt McNabb reflects on the history and many meanings of the now-indispensable ellipsis. (Slate)
  • Sarah Gailey calls for science fiction and fantasy authors to stop using sexual violence as a genre trope. (Tor)