In Karen Russell‘s Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. “It held a cargo of books,” Ava Bigtree explains, “In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors.” Now something similar has moored in England’s canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.
Out this week: Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash; The Last Enchantments by Millions contributor Charles Finch; My Life in Middlemarch by New Yorker staff writer (and Millions interviewee) Rebecca Mead; and Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Just got a new e-reader for Christmas but afraid to overspend too easily? Many public domain books are classics, ones that you might want to revisit from school or others that you feel guilty for not having read. Here is a list of 10 free books. Or, if you’re more interested in paying for newer titles, you can check out our cheat sheet of the favorites of Millions readers and places to find more.
“Fantasy is a tool of the storyteller. It is a way of talking about things that are not, and cannot be, literally true. It is a way of making our metaphors concrete, and it shades into myth in one direction, allegory in another.” Neil Gaiman reviews Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Buried Giant for the New York Times Book Review and considers the power, and risks, of fantasy. Pair with Ishiguro’s talk with The Telegraph about the 10 years since the publication of Never Let Me Go.
Courtesy of fake-news juggernaut The Onion, a new viral website honest about its purpose: “I think we see the ideal ClickHole reader as a hollow shell who exists purely to click on our content and then share that content with other hollow shells.” (Also: the same technique on headlines, applied to books.)
In the Prospect, an essay on anesthesia, 3D printing, teleportation, LSD, and other thought experiments on self-awareness. Also, this line: “If the spectrum of selfhood begins with the roundworm, surely it ends with Proust.”