No matter what you think of the bookish offspring of the OED’s word of the year, you should know that Neil Gaiman gave the term “shelfie” some more press. While moving out of his house, the author took a “tragic shelfie,” aka a picture of his books packed away in boxes. (Related: our own Tess Malone reviewed Gaiman’s latest book.) (h/t The Paris Review)
"I have wasted my life." Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring takes a look at James Wright's "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota" and the many interpretations readers have brought to its famous last line. Among those readers is David Mitchell, who wrote about the same poem in an essay for The Atlantic's By Heart series earlier this year.
"Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway)." Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad's Kurtz?
"Book lore and book history and everything around them, to do with libraries or culture, I think it centers so much of civilization." Atlas Obscura interviewed journalist Alex Johnson about his forthcoming title, Book Towns, which explores off-the-beaten-path towns bursting with bookshops.