“These days, nothing says amateur hour quite like an alphabetical bookshelf.” Sloane Crosley does not have packing tips for you, though she does have some book recommendations.
Our friends at Electric Literature are Kickstarting Papercuts, “a party game for the rude and well-read.” We would’ve pledged anyway, but this pitch sealed the deal: “It’s what Kurt Vonnegut, James Baldwin, and Virginia Woolf would play if they were alive, locked in a room together, and forced to play a card game.” This Cards Against Humanity for the literary set will be delivered in time for Christmas, so keep it in mind for your erudite stocking stuffer needs.
Among the recommendations and rules listed in the CIA’s official style guide: favor the active voice; keep sentences and paragraphs short; boats should not be referred to with gendered pronouns; and the “w” in “Vietnam war” should be lower case because war wasn’t officially declared.
“Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.” -From the much-quoted 1928 essay by SS Van Dine, noted art critic and mystery writer, on the 20 rules for writing detective stories. (via Guardian)
Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.