Most readers have their own idiosyncratic systems for displaying the most valuable titles they own. For a lot of people, it makes the most sense to keep their favorite books on a particular shelf. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein writes about an odd phenomenon — “The Phantom Shelf,” which consists of books you love so much you had to lend them to friends. (Related: Kevin Hartnett on reading our parents’ bookshelves.)
Almost a year ago, Emily Rapp’s son Ronan passed away from Tay-Sachs disease. At The Rumpus, Rapp discusses her loss and how it affects her current pregnancy. “A boy was born in the world, already doomed by genetics, in March 2010. A girl, if all goes well, will be born in the world in March 2014, and born to do what?”
Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon founded India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali For Women, in 1984. In 2003, they parted ways to start their own projects: Menon began Women Unlimited; Butalia founded Zubaan Books. Now, in a compressed and edited interview for Mint, Butalia discusses some of the challenges she faces in India’s publishing ecosystem, and also notes, “in my 40 years in publishing, things have never felt as exciting as they are now. It truly seems there are infinite possibilities.”
In 1992, William Gibson published Agrippa, a poem coded on a floppy disk such that after one reading it would destroy itself forever. Quinn DuPont, a PhD student studying cryptography, built an emulation of the self-destructing poem and has a challenge to cyberpunks and cryptographers: be the first person to crack the poem’s code and win a copy of every one of Gibson’s books ever published.
“Why write in an unlovable genre with an inevitably hectoring tone? Dystopia, situated in a dangerous no-man’s-land between the pulpit of the preacher and the safe sniper post of the satirist.” Future futurists, take note: the New York Review of Books reviews Chang-Rae Lee’s addition to your dystopic shelf, On Such a Full Sea, and ponders the virtues of the dystopic endeavor itself. (Bonus: Lee writes about his own 2013 Year in Reading here at The Millions.)