Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft, a billionaire, a philanthropist, and an amateur book club leader. He posted his summer reading list on his website, The Gates Notes. You won’t find any beach reads because Gates prefers nonfiction such as However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls and The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?. You can read the latter along with him.
The brand new Library of Birmingham opens next week, and the gigantic structure is said to be “Europe’s largest public library.” In addition to its modern architecture, the facility also offers “a room from the 19th Century … to house one of the UK’s most important Shakespeare collections.”
At Page-Turner, our own Mark O’Connell notes “a thrilling obscenity” in the works of Gonçalo M. Tavares, a Portuguese writer whose recent novel, Jerusalem, depicts a character with schizophrenia. A lesser-known symptom of the illness, apparently, is a tendency to treat inanimate objects like conscious (and social) beings. (We wrote about Tavares back in March.)
“I was also deeply protective of my father, who at the time of my reading was struggling with illness and other demons. Yet I saw painfully how he could also be a figure of fun. It dawned on me that Cal, supposedly a great friend, might be mocking him—even just by writing about his mockery by others. I registered the first stirrings of an uncertain dislike.” Diantha Parker considers her father’s long friendship with Robert Lowell, immortalized in Lowell’s poem “To Frank Parker.”
We’ve heard about the weak dollar making things tough on Canadian readers, but the pain is being felt by Canadian publishers as well, as profit margins diminish. The latest casualty is publisher Raincoast Books.Philip Agee died today. His Inside the Company in 1973 may have created a modern day genre, one that would be contributed to by many former agents, the CIA tell-all.The Atlantic reaches deep into the archives to bring us “The History of Children’s Books,” from 1888:It is hard to imagine a world without books for children. There have been children’s stories and folk-tales ever since man first learned to speak. “Many of them,” in Thackeray’s words, “have been narrated, almost in their present shape, for thousands of years since, to little copper-colored Sanscrit children. The very same tale has been heard by the Northmen Vikings, as they lay on their shields on deck; and by the Arabs, couched under the stars in the Syrian plains, when the flocks were gathered in, and the mares were picketed by the tents.” Children’s books, however, are a late growth of literature. Miss Yonge says, “Up to the Georgian era there were no books at all for children or the poor, excepting the class-books containing old ballads, such as Chevy Chase, and short tales, such as The King and the Cobbler, Whittington and his Cat.” We shall nevertheless see that there were English books for children (and it is with no others that we have to deal) long before this time.
This holiday season, show a little restraint. Write a short short that uses each word only once, and email it to [email protected] by December 31 at midnight for your chance to win Electric Literature vol. 1 and be published on their blog, The Outlet. Further details available here.