Administrators at Cushing Academy in Massachusetts “have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks – the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.” (Thanks to Millions reader Laurie who asks, “So what happens when the power goes out?”)
In The Guardian, Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris writes a tribute to the novelist Jim Shepard, who taught him at UC Irvine when Ferris was a student there in the early aughts. Ferris makes a case that Shepard single-handedly settles a modern debate: “A lot of critics dislike the professionalisation of creative writing. They have never had Shepard in a workshop.”
The last of the World Cup qualifying matches wrapped up this week and the final list of qualified teams is in. See the list of the 32 qualified national teams headed for South Africa in 2010 here.
Jonathan Lethem thinks his work is taken too seriously. “Well, I was just watching Richard Pryor, and he says, ‘When you’re dating a white woman, and people don’t like it, you can’t really pretend. You can’t go, “Oh, she’s not with me.”‘ ‘You write the big, ambitious books, right?’ Well, I guess they are,” he said in an interview with Salon. He also discusses being equated with Jonathan Franzen and his new novel, Dissident Gardens.
Just because Beowulf‘s influence on Tolkien isn’t news doesn’t mean the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s translation of the epic poem this week isn’t exciting. But while Tolkien’s name alone may be enough for the serious fan, Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times has given general readers an introduction to the history of the new translation complete with some insight into Tolkien’s love of the epic poem.
Slate has translated famous first lines of literature into emojis, and they’re surprisingly coherent. Pair with Jonathan Russell Clark‘s essay on opening sentences.
Out this week: Beatlebone by Kevin Barry; Memory Theater by Simon Critchley; Bright Scythe: Selected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer; Charmed Particles by Chrissy Kolaya; and This Old Man by Roger Angell. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.