“Is it possible to keep an octopus in a private home?” “Are Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates the same person?” Oh, the things people have asked reference librarians.
Who’s ready for a trip to Tokyo? Sadie Stein at The Paris Review breaks the lid on a veritable Shangri-La for book lovers, a quasi-bunkhouse known as Book and Bed. Book and Bed is a bunkhouse-slash-bookstore that doesn’t actually sell books. Instead, they have a number of rather spartan beds built inside row after row of bookshelves. Their noble goal is also a simple one; to offer “an experience shared by everyone at least once: the blissful instant of falling asleep while reading.”
Over at The New Yorker, Roa Lynn recalls going to Pablo Neruda’s home and getting him to write her a poem: “Would he read a few of the poems that I had brought with me? To my delight, he said that after lunch he would take his customary nap and after that he would read our poems. If he liked them, he would write something for our book.” Pair with this Millions essay about Neruda’s house in Isla Negra.
Among the raft of news stories that came out about Facebook recently, you may have missed the company’s quiet revolution in grammar, signified by its adoption of the much-debated singular “they.” If thinking about this change makes you queasy, just remember that singular “they” has been around since the days of Chaucer. (Related: Fiona Maazel on bad grammar.)
"The eradication of Terry Pratchett’s unfinished works, the zeros and ones of his hard drive ground into the earth at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, is an imaginative exception to the rule." The Paris Review questions how we publish an authors posthumous works and whether there's a better way to do so. Pair with: our 2017 Select Literary Obituaries.
It’s not a commonly held opinion, but Hilary Mantel thinks Henry VIII was a romantic. In a brief interview with Jamie Sharpe, the Wolf Hall author dispels the common view of the oft-married king as a philanderer. “He thought that he had to shape his life and shape his kingdom for each woman,” she says. “Men didn’t think that way in those days.” You could also read Damian Barr’s interview with her at The Millions.