On Monday we mentioned that the MTA has started offering free e-books underground as part of its Subway Reads program, but they weren’t the first to make books an integral part of the public transit experience. London’s Books on the Underground was first, but then came a more interesting development in Australia: book ninjas. Books on the Rails is a gonzo experiment started by two Melbourne residents who began releasing free books – actual, paper books – into the wilds of the city’s tram system. About 300 books are currently in circulation in what’s possibly the world’s most open lending library.
David Bowie hasn’t performed live in seven years, but he has a good excuse — he’s been reading. His top 100 books are part of the “David Bowie Is” traveling exhibition (currently in Toronto.) The list reveals that he’s a big fan of American lit, including Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, Saul Bellow’s Herzog, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and more. He’s also an amateur rock historian, naming Charlie Gillete’s The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll and Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom among others. When can we sign up for the class, Professor Bowie?
Take a vicarious trip to China via a special issue of Ninth Letter, a literary and arts journal published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Including work by authors Madelaine Thien and Khaled Al Khamissi, the issue grew out of a residency sponsored by Sun Yat-sen University’s Center for English-language Creative Writing, the only such department of its kind in that country. Pair with this piece by Casey Walker about writing his novel Last Days in Shanghai, which is set in the boomtown of today’s new China.
“To survive, we learned to be great actresses. We cocked our heads just so, we laughed with just the right lilt, we batted our eyelashes and pursed our lips. Sometimes we were innocent, weak and in need of protection; other times we teased and tortured, until our customers raged for release.” Beautiful new fiction by Karissa Chen for Catapult.