Ban Internet Slang? For Realz?

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It’s an interesting cultural moment: on the one hand, the self-appointed cyberhustler experts in the “future of news” spend their time mocking the fustiness of old media; on the other hand, a star online destination wants to sound more like one of its paper-based predecessors.

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Can Books Keep Young Baghdadis From Leaving The City?

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“Bathed in the rainbow-colored light of an old Baghdadi window, Ali al-Makhzomy explained his plan to get technology-obsessed young Iraqis to read books – old-fashioned books, with pages.” He says, “We really want Baghdad in the 1930s or ’40s or ’50s to return. It was more civilized. How do we know? We read about it.”

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The Electrifying Muriel Spark

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“She loved lightning. It wasn’t her favorite weapon – fire was, or knives. But lightning has a brutal, beautiful efficiency, and she used it to good effect, once frying alive a pair of lovers. Lightning seemed to seek her out, too. It struck her houses repeatedly, and on one occasion caused a nearby bell tower […]

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Revealed: CIA Used Dr. Zhivago As Weapon During The Cold War

Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in the film Doctor Zhivago

“This book has great propaganda value, not only for its intrinsic message and thought-provoking nature, but also for the circumstances of its publication: we have the opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is […]

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All Writers Pine For A Vera Nabokov

Vera

“Twenty-three years after her death, Vera Nabokov remains a revered figure in capital ‘L’ Literature … Vera not only performed all the duties expected of a wife of her era … but also acted as her husband’s round-the-clock editor, assistant, and secretary. … So it seems likely that having, or not having, a Vera could […]

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Shakespeare As Literature (It’s Better As Theatre)

The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globe theatre

“Shakespeare’s plays are for seeing in performance. Reading them, even for an experienced performer, is heavy going. To read any play with a large cast, it’s hard to keep track of who is who and their relationships with each other. Harder still to remember who is in the scene and not saying much.”

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‘Doctor Zhivago’ and the CIA

Pasternak

“A secret package arrived at CIA headquarters in January 1958. Inside were two rolls of film from British intelligence – pictures of the pages of a Russian-language novel titled Doctor Zhivago” which had been banned in the USSR. Yes, it seems that The Company was instrumental in getting Boris Pasternak’s Nobel-winning novel into print.

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Some Independent Bookstores Are Doing Well. Why?

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“If you are feeling low about the fate of the bookstore, just step through the door of Type Books on Queen Street West. Despite competition from ebooks and the giant bookselling chains, this brilliant little chocolate box for bibliophiles is thriving. Its sales are good. Its customers are loyal. The smart, friendly, learned people who […]

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Who Could Ever Love An E-Book?

ebooks arent sensual

“You might refer to an e-reader as being neat, but there is no way anyone is going to call it beautiful. … You are not going to caress it in the same way you would a fine binding, or even admire the cover artwork.”

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What E-Reading Can Do To, And For, Serial Books

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“An e-reader encourages each of us to get sucked into our favorite characters and plots, thus turning what is normally a standardized experience (reading from page one forward) into a more customized, journey. I feel an ownership over the novels — something I’ve never felt with the show — and that’s the driving force of […]

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Will Durant’s Lost Final Book to Be Published

Will Durant

“Durant mentioned it several times in interviews in the 1970s, once calling it ‘a not very serious book which answers the questions of what I think about government, life, death, God.’ But the whereabouts of the manuscript were unknown before it was found in a box in his granddaughter’s attic last year.”

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The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

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“A new, lavish coffee-table book, Libraries, pays homage to 44 of these vaults of wisdom around the world. In these photos, spines of shelved books appear like ornate mosaics; labyrinthine stacks seem like architectural gestures.”

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Can High-Tech Speed-Reading Work? Should It?

Can High-Tech Speed-Reading Work

The creators of the app Spritz argue that “only around 20% of your time is spent processing content. The remaining 80% is spent physically moving your eyes from word to word.” They mean to reverse those percentages. If they’re right, what does that mean for how we experience the written word?

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What Makes Iraq Stories Different From Most War Literature

Anbar Province Iraq

George Packer: “The essential scene of First World War writing is the mass slaughter of the trenches. In the archetypal Vietnam story, a grunt who can never find the enemy walks into physical and moral peril. In much of the writing about Iraq, the moment of truth is a reunion scene at an airport or […]

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Where Are Today’s Compelling Novels About Poverty And Inequality?

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“Despite our recession-era reckoning with economics and inequality, fiction that examines both the macro and micro experience of poverty is all too rare. Of the writers who do venture forth in the tradition of John Steinbeck, many are finding new and riveting approaches to an age-old subject. But there are crucial gaps, still. And as […]

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If You Printed All Of Wikipedia It Would Look Like…

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“Nowadays you just use Wikipedia every day without even thinking how large that might be … the English Wikipedia has 4.5 million articles. Nobody can imagine this number. It’s only when you see this in print or in a physical form that you realize how large it really is.”

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