Attention! The finalists for the 2016 Oddest Book Title of the Year award have been announced — my personal favorite has to be Reading From Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus. Pair with the ever exciting Bad Sex in Fiction award and you’ve got yourself your own little literary Oscars party.
Where does the “panic attack when you think you’re not reading enough” fit in to all of this? Here are a few professional readers on how they keep from mixing business with pleasure. This essay on Lewis Lapham and reading just for pleasure might also tickle your fancy.
Shakespeare conspiracy theorists might still wonder who the real playwright was, but we do know what he would’ve sounded like. Linguist David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal, demonstrate the original pronunciation of the Bard’s best. Bonus: An interview with Ben on the research behind the pronunciation.
Not-so-breaking news: Books are the best way to store information. CDs, flash memory, hard drives, and other digital storage devices aren’t nearly as durable as good old fashioned paper. So the next time someone says you have too many books, just say it’s your attempt at immortality.
An international group of forensic experts studying the poet Pablo Neruda‘s remains, which were ordered exhumed in 2013, says he didn’t die of cancer, as the Nobel laureate’s official cause of death states. The question remains: was he poisoned? And if you want to see how Neruda lived, perhaps you might enjoy this tour of writers’ houses.
Man Booker judge Colin Thubron expressed frustration with gushing book blurbs, which he says “almost blackmail” readers: “you’re either intellectually or morally incompetent if you don’t love this book or you’ve failed if you haven’t understood it.” Our own Bill Morris tackled the age old question—”To Blurb or not Blurb”—a few years ago.
Out this week: Five-Carat Soul by James McBride; Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott; Brother by David Chariandy; The Second Sister by Claire Kendal; and Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.