If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
Recommended reading: Sara Polsky writes for the New Yorker about “The Detective Novel That Convinced a Generation Richard III Wasn’t Evil.”
Out this week: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney; The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson; The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan; Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman; Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett; and Hold Still by Lynn Steger Strong. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.