Planning to attend this Saturday’s National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.? The Washington Post has provided five sample itineraries. And for an entirely different, vicarious trip, revisit Mythili G. Rao‘s account of visiting the Jaipur Literature Festival a few years back: “To voice their disapproval of the circumstances of Salman Rushdie’s absence, four writers read from The Satanic Verses — a book that has been banned in India. They were advised to leave. What kind of real intellectual discussion could go on in a setting that had proved itself so hospitable to self-censorship?”
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of those rare few classic novels that translates well to the big screen. To some extent, this was intentional -- Nabokov often wrote fiction with an eye to selling film rights. John Colapinto writes about the author’s relationship with the cinema over at Page-Turner. You could also read our own Lydia Kiesling’s Modern Library Revue of Lolita.
Punctuation can be as important as the prose. At Vulture, Kathryn Schultz discusses the five best punctuation marks in literature. The list includes this delightful parenthetical from Lolita, "My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three...”
Here’s a thing you’ve probably never thought of before: the sheer weirdness of some of the Christmas rituals in many canonical children’s books. In The Irish Times, Rosita Boland catalogues a few of the stranger ones, including Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Christmas dinner in summer and Lucy’s gift of a dagger in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there's a different kind of classic that's worth revisiting and questioning. "You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
“I love you, in its formal semantic meaning, is at once fetishized and sacrosanct; our familiarity with it as a speech-act is equally uneasy. Type ‘using I love you’ into Google and the first autocomplete result is ‘too much’; the second is ‘as a weapon.’” Google’s recently unveiled Smart Reply feature is saying “I love you” too much. Or is it just the right amount?
“They would have closed, if the community hadn’t stepped forward.” The Guardian reports on the rapidly growing number of British libraries being run by volunteers, a trend driven by austerity cuts (which Corinne Purtill wrote about in these very pages just a few weeks ago).