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.
Canadian post-rock outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor will soon release their fourth studio album, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, and it’s definitely worth checking out. You can stream the record over here. The band was also recently interviewed for The Guardian, too, and this entire post should keep you occupied for a while.
“These are terrific diversions, but their status next to the book is a little ambiguous. Isn’t using animation to advertise a book a little like using sculpture to promote poetry?” asks Lindesay Irvine in this article about book trailers in The Guardian. If you’re looking for a diversion, this video short based on César Aira‘s Ghosts is certainly worth watching.
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
Last week, JK Rowling announced that, midway through writing the Harry Potter series, she nearly killed off Ron Weasley “out of spite.” Ron isn’t the first supporting character to narrowly avoid death in an author’s rough draft. The Awl illustrates some of literature’s other close calls with death.
This morning, the longlist for the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award came out, and the nominees include some familiar names. Year in Reading alumnus Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See (which won this year’s Pulitzer, whom you can learn more about in this essay by our own Michael Bourne) is on there, as is Year in Reading alumnus Michael Cunningham’s The Snow Queen, Year in Reading alumna Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State (reviewed here by Aboubacar Ndiaye), and A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (winner of this year’s Booker Prize).