On the Burning of Books

On the Burning of Books: How Flames Fail to Destroy the Written Word by Kenneth Baker will be published on August 15, 2016.  You can get a preview of what I think will be a very interesting and extensive look at our proclivity to disdain and destroy what we disagree with here.

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I have previously written about the Proust Questionnaire, but The New Yorker has a more in-depth article about the genesis and growing popularity of the subject than the article I wrote.  The piece is by Evan Kindley whose book Questionnaire has just been released by Bloomsbury Academic.

Kindley’s new book is part of a series called “Object Lessons.”  Bloomsbury describes them as, “. . . a series of concise, collectable, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. Each book starts from a specific inspiration: an historical event, a literary passage, a personal narrative, a technological innovation-and from that starting point explores the object of the title, gleaning a singular lesson or multiple lessons along the way. Featuring contributions from writers, artists, scholars, journalists, and others, the emphasis throughout is lucid writing, imagination, and brevity. Object Lessons paints a picture of the world around us, and tells the story of how we got here, one object at a time.”  You can see a list of the books, and read some free Object Lesson essays here.

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Encyclopedias that are out of date can still be very valuable.  Why? Because they are time capsules of what we knew or believed to be accurate at the time they were published.  Justin Nobel, writing in The Atlantic, gives us an Object Lesson concerning encyclopedias here.

Britannica An interesting example of an encyclopedia that has great value, even though it was published almost 250 years ago, can be found (and bought) at the Encyclopædia Britannica website.  It’s a reproduction of the first edition of that venerable work, and all three volumes of it can be yours for $199.95.  An excerpt from the first edition, featured in the advertising at the Britannica website, informs us that California is, “a large country of the West Indies. It is uncertain whether it be a peninsula or an island.” 

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Alison Kerr Courtney isn’t a therapist, but she has found a unique way to help people who are going through a life crisis.  She recommends books that address what they are going through.  Many people have found that her unique approach to assisting people who are hurting has been very useful in restoring their mental health.  CNN has the story here.  Some of the links in the article may be interesting to you.  Also, be sure to check out Courtney’s blog while you’re at it.

Should you be looking for something to read, be sure to peruse “Amazon’s 100 Best List” which appears at the top of the article.  It contains both fiction and nonfiction; books for children and books that are definitely only for adults.  You can start with Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, and work your way through Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.  In fact, both of those books have something in common, don’t they? Astronomy.

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George Peabody Library

The photo above is of the George Peabody library in Baltimore, Maryland.  It’s the USA Today recommended vacation spot to visit in that state.  A recent USA Today article recommends one vacation spot to visit for under $20 in each state.

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What is your earliest memory?  How old were you when the events in that memory took place?  A BBC article explores the subject of our earliest memories, and provides some possible reasons why we lack memories of most of the early events in our lives.  Also, the author, Zaria Gorvett, writes that the age at which children begin to form memories that will be retained varies from culture to culture.  Fascinating!

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The longlist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize has been announced.  The Guardian has an excellent article on the nominees.

I often link to book articles in The Guardian because it has the most extensive, and most interesting articles on books of any website I’ve ever found.  Check out their book section here.

Some other features of their book section worth your review are:

You can subscribe to The Guardian’s Bookmarks e-mail newsletter here.

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 Book TV will feature a panel discussion on author Zora Neale Hurston this weekend. Panelists will include Rutgers University’s Cheryl Wall, Rich Blint, with The James Baldwin Review, Columbia University’s Farah Jasmine Griffin, and Barnard College’s Yvette Christianse.  The discussion was part of the Harlem Book Fair.  See the Book TV schedule here for days and times of the broadcast. Choose “View/Print” to browse or print out the schedule.

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The next edition of the live author interview program In-Depth on Book TV (C-SPAN2) will air Sunday, August 7, 2016 from noon to 3:00 p.m. ET.  The featured guest will be author and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.  His books include American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst and The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.

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