According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
A designer from Copenhagen, Philipp Meyer (not the novelist), has created the first comic book for the blind. “Most of the tactile material that is available for blind people is very information dense. It’s always about information and not often about art,” he says.
Slate corrects an oversight to Sarah Palin’s otherwise impeccably edited memoir: no index. Theirs runs from “Alaska, autumn bouquet of” (page 1) to “‘you betcha’ – revelation of as not actually Alaska’s state motto” (page 309), and includes such helpful detours as “exclamation point, usage of” (pages 4, 26, 120, 121, 122, 138, 150…) You almost – almost – don’t have to read the book.
Bookseller and blogger Emily Pullen discusses the e-reading experience in this morning’s Shelf Awareness: “I have noticed that when I read on the device, my attention span is somewhat short. I rarely read for more than an hour–usually about 20 minutes. It’s not because it is uncomfortable for my eyes or my hands. Instead I just don’t get as immersed.”
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Bill Clinton, at 65, has become the Blurber-in-Chief, an activist health convert who has enthusiastically endorsed three diet books: Eddie Shapes Up by Ed Koch, Think and Grow Thin by weight-loss coach Charles D’Angelo, and The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now, a new book by Dr. Mark Hyman. No more “Fat Elvis” jokes for Bill.