“‘This is a place where people can let their Jane Austen freak flag fly.'” Last weekend, the Jane Austen Society of North America held their annual meeting in New York, attracting fans from all over the country, including Cornel West and Anna Quindlen.
What if I were to tell you that only half of you is actually you? A new book by Ed Yong takes a look at the human body and the microbial stowaways that make up most of us: “Reader, as you read these words, trillions of microbes and quadrillions of viruses are multiplying on your face, your hands and down there in the darkness of your gut. With every breath you take, with every move you make, you are sending bacteria into the air at the rate of about 37 million per hour — your invisible aura, your personal microbial cloud. With every gram of food you eat, you swallow about a million microbes more.”
Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken, discusses her life with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. “I’m looking for a way out of here. I can’t have it physically, so I’m going to have it intellectually. It was a beautiful thing to ride Seabiscuit in my imagination.”
The word “cool” has been cool for more than 70 years. At Slate, Carl Wilson examines why this slang stuck, and how it’s evolved from being used by beatniks to smartphone companies. “Cool is an attitude that allows detached assessment, but one that prizes an air of knowingness over specific knowledge. I think that’s why it doesn’t become dated, unlike hotter-running expressions of enthusiasm like groovy or rad.” Pair with: Michael Agger’s essay on why we love the “cool story, bro” meme.
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
Anyone who cares about the financial viability of the book business should read Author’s Guild President Scott Turow’s open letter on the implications of the government’s threatened anti-trust suit against major publishers and Apple over alleged collusion in e-book pricing.