Scientists are using x-ray to read fragments of 1,300-year-old manuscripts that have been reused as bookbindings. Pair with this Millions essay on private libraries and what books reveal about their readers.
With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
Now this would be a strange way for an obscure book to become an overnight bestseller. Among The Smoking Gun’s photos of the Tiger Woods crash scene is a shot of a book called Get a Grip on Physics by John Gribbin lying amid the broken glass. Maybe brushing up on physics can help your golf game.
Jacket Copy visits Joan Didion at her apartment in Manhattan to discuss Blue Nights, which moves back and forth between the death of Didion’s 39-year-old daughter, Quintana, six years ago and the author’s reflections on aging. The book is a much anticipated follow-up to 2005’s The Year of Magical Thinking, in which Didion wrote about the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne.
UNESCO announced this week that Krakow has been named the seventh City of Literature. The Polish municipality joins Edinburgh, the first UNESCO City of Literature, and Iowa City, Melbourne, Dublin, Reykjavik and Norwich. The city has been home to such notable authors as Nobel Prize winners Henryk Sienkiewicz, Władysław Stanisław Reymont, Czesław Miłosz, and Wisława Szymborska.