Nabokov played (and frequently wrote about) chess; J.K. Rowling plays Minecraft, though it has yet to appear in any kind of Harry Potter spin-off. And why shouldn't she? After all, "there’s a long tradition of other authors turning to a variety of such games – mostly as light relief from their vocation, but also sometimes finding writerly inspiration."
"Thoreau did kill, cook and eat a woodchuck that was eating his beans. But he decided that was a lousy way to treat a woodchuck and he never did it again." In celebration of his bicentennial, NPR sets straight five myths about Henry David Thoreau's diet, including the pernicious canard that he stole pies from neighbor's windowsills. See also "My Summer with Henry," on reading Thoreau's Cape Cod on Cape Cod.
New this week: Yannick Murphy's latest novel The Call is out this week, as is Tom Scocca's chronicle of expat life, Beijing Welcomes You (Both are written up in our big second-half preview). Also arriving is a new novel from Helen Schulman, This Beautiful Life, and Bed, the debut effort of David Whitehouse, which has already been a (minor) prizewinner in the UK, and which the publisher compares to A Confederacy of Dunces.