Thanks to recent advancements in digital scanning technology, it looks like the Herculaneum scrolls will be made legible after some two thousand years. The new technique allows for close study of the scrolls without causing irreparable damage to the papyrus via exposure to the moisture in the air, an issue which had dogged scholars for centuries. If the impermanence and tenuousness of writing is more your speed, here’s a bit on Twitter, instead.
“Is the reason to have a home, as the narrator in Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation, asserts, ‘to keep certain people in and everyone else out’? Or does home, as the narrator in William Maxwell's autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow suggests, work primarily as a scaffolding of known things — as a place to read, a place to stash the damp umbrella, a place to listen to the porch swing creak?” Beth Kephart on the literary significance of home.
"Post-truth" has been named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, reports The Guardian. Considered an adjective, its definition is “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The Dictionaries report its first use in 1992 by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in relation to Iran-Contra and the first Gulf War. And we thought Colbert's "truthiness" was funny.
"Many times, I’ve found that a book I once held in my hands becomes another when assigned its position in my library." In The Paris Review, an excerpt on the art of packing (and unpacking) a library from Alberto Manguel's upcoming book, Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions. Pair with: an essay on reorganizing one's personal library.
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.
“Like all great literature, [David Foster Wallace’s] books do many things at once. Litchat, however, is singleminded.” Laura Miller discusses “the perils of litchat” at The New Yorker and how it has affected the legacy of David Foster Wallace. For less litchat, read our review of The David Foster Wallace Reader.