The contents of the Warburg Library suggest it was conceived in a fairy tale. As Adam Gopnik describes it, the shelves of the quirky London establishment include things like medieval astrology tomes and a section on “The Evil Eye.” Yet despite its notoriety, the University of London filed a lawsuit against it last year, as part of a move to incorporate the Warburg into its greater library. In the latest New Yorker, an essay on the controversial landmark.
If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.
Beauty is in the eye of the writer. Adelle Waldman discusses why many novelists fail to address female beauty in a meaningful and nuanced way. “Women are not only subject to a constant and exhausting and sometimes humiliating scrutiny—they are also belittled for caring about their beauty, mocked for seeking to enhance or to hold onto their good looks, while men are just, well, being men.”
“That’s why I’m organizing this fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, because for me the right to say what happens to my body is the right to make art.” Year-in-Reading alum Claire Vaye Watkins has launched “Dabbler’s Ball,” an art auction featuring work by some other boldtype names you might know (Ramona Ausubel, Lauren Groff, Tom McGuane, Emma Straub). Bidding runs until September 5th and 100% of the proceeds will go toward the venerable PP. See also: our reviews of Vaye Watkins’s novel Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn, her first story collection.
Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris has a new book on shelves this week, as does Millions contributor Porochista Khakpour. Also out: Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro; The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings; Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley; The Orenda by Joseph Boyden; Snow in May by Kseniya Melnik; The Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma; and Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2014 Book Preview.
George Perec‘s I Remember, a series of aphoristic memories modeled after Joe Brainard’s volume of the same name, are finally making their way into English translation. The Paris Review has an excerpt. “I remember that Stendhal liked spinach… I remember that one of the first decisions that de Gaulle took on coming to power was to abolish the belt worn with jackets in the military.”