The al-Qarawiyyin library, the oldest library in the world, has just reopened after years of renovations. Take a look inside. Andrew Pippos writes about private libraries and what they reveal about their readers.
“My daughter spent some of this summer performing a dance, which she learned at summer camp, to a certain song by Shakira, called “Waka Waka.” It was earnest, funny, beautiful dance; however, I am, it seems, unable to watch my daughter perform her Shakira dance, to a song I don’t very much care for, without sobbing. There is no explanation for this excessive reaction—the dance is homely and human and not at all out of this world—but that the reaction is about beauty, and joy, and potential, and not sorrow. And this, it seems, is one aspect of what crying celebrates: the sublime.” Here is Rick Moody, life coach, from The Literary Hub. Here’s a recent Millions interview with Moody.
“Think of landscape. Think of how elements come to be attached to one another, how it’s impossible to separate the road from the field, the field from the tree, the tree from the water, the water from the sky. We cannot attribute natural features to the lines we design just as we cannot attribute natural causes to those dying as they try to cross them.” For Tin House, Portuguese writer Susana Moreira Marques meditates on the concept of borders and Wolf Böwig’s photography project, “Borders and Beyond.”
“If rats then represent terror and chickens innocent striving for something approaching authenticity, humans, for Lispector, are strangely in the middle, often stricken with fear, or handing out terror, but ready also to soar or break loose or achieve some freedom or be fully alert to their fate in a time short enough for one of her stories to be enacted.” Colm Tóibín writes about Clarice Lispector’s The Complete Stories. You could also check out a Year in Reading by Katrina Dodson, translator of the collection and our review of the book.
We might mock romance readers for how much Kleenex they go through, but they're more emotionally perceptive than others. A new study on the interpersonal sensitivity of readers found that romance readers are better at discerning facial cues and emotion than other literati. But don't worry if you aren't a Nicholas Sparks fan; reading any genre makes you more empathetic, as we've reported on before.
"The entire manuscript was written with the E-type bar of the typewriter tied down; thus making it impossible for that letter to be printed. This was done so that none of that vowel might slip in, accidentally; and many did try to do so!" Abe Books tells the tale of Gadsby, a self-published 50,000-word novel written without using the letter "e." Its author, Ernest Vincent Wright, won some notoriety when he accomplished the feat – called a lipogram – in 1939, although it's unlikely Wright could have foreseen that individual copies of his book would eventually fetch prices upward of $1,200. And if it's literary hijinks you're after, definitely read our own Anne Yoder on the work of Georges Perec, who wrote a lipogram of his own in 1969.
"This poem fosters reading again and again, because interpretation is always reaching its limits: eventually, one runs up against a secret gesture to which the only response is either to acknowledge that there is some other conscious being that could make or decipher it, or to fantasize the being that could." A long, worthwhile review of R.F. Langley's Complete Poems from 3:AM Magazine.