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Library of Congress

Library of Congress stands fast against America’s strain of anti-intellectualism

The strain of anti-intellectualism that pervades American culture is always at war with those of us who value learning and believe that life is more than just a set of economic facts. We have many valuable and visible allies. One of the most visible is the Library of Congress.

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In case you’re wondering: James Comey’s book sold 600,000 copies in its first week

Comey’s book came out with a well-planned marketing blitz centered around Comey being interviewed by just about every radio, television, and cable show that would have him. And most of them did.

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Bookriot author puts together 50 must-read true-crime books to add to your TBR stack

Katie McLain has done all of us true-crime fans a real service. She has put together 50 of the best true-crime books into one simple list. She writes: What is it about true crime books that are so addicting? Is it a voyeuristic, “train wreck” sort of reading experience? Is it an opportunity to understand […]

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A frame of bees from one of the hives

Starting beehives; surviving March; sketching in the urban; more on Darwin: newsletter April 13, 2018

There is this thing in America known as March Madness. To the untutored among you, that refers to the three-week long national collegiate basketball tournament that has the country mesmerized until the Monday evening (usually the first Monday of April) when the national championship games takes place, and in a few days, you’ve forgotten completely […]

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radioguy

More than just free audiobooks: LibriVox offers plays, poetry, more

William Shakespeare is still on my mind, and I recently thought it was would be cool to listen to some Shakespeare rather than read him. After all, he wrote plays — things that should be seen and heard. Listening to his words should be the consumption mode of choice. What I found was a gold […]

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Girl With the Pearl Earring

A really close look at ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ – really close

The folks at the  Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague, Holland, where the painting resides are taking a really close look these days. They have called in experts from around the world and marshaled all of the technology and machinery they can muster to look as closely — non-invasively — at the painting as they can.

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Hardback books: what’s the point? Money, prestige, space

Hardback books are highly profitable. Publishers reckon they can sell a hardback for twice (or more) the price of a paperback, but a hardback doesn’t cost nearly twice as much to produce.

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The Chandos portrait

Shakespeare’s appearance remains a mystery – but we have lots of clues

We have a general idea of what William Shakespeare looked like, but we do not have a confirmed contemporary portrait of him. Like many other things about The Bard, his appearance remains a mystery.

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samueljohnson

Inside the making of a dictionary

Dictionaries are marvels of any language. But English has resisted the orderly cataloguing that has been routine for many other tongues. Early lexicographers believed they could impose some necessary order on the language by setting down spellings and definitions and making them permanent. But the language quickly showed them who was boss.

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis

A portrait of Jackie Kennedy as a teenager, and then a lawsuit; then there’s a new biography

A portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier Lee, a.k.a. Jackie Kennedy, depicting her as a teenager, has appeared in a Long Island art gallery and has sparked a federal lawsuit brought by some of her relatives. The relatives say it is stolen. The art gallery owner says it is not and that he has doubts that the […]

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Point Spread by Jim Stovall

‘The Feminine Mystique’ and the change in women’s status in the 1960s

The book summed up many of the frustrations that middle-class women had experienced, especially if they had set aside ambitions and careers to become suburban housewives and mothers. From the day it was published, it sparked criticism from many quarters (and continues to do so today), but it struck a chord with many women and […]

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Inspiration for a genius: recent discovery of a book that Shakespeare may have used for his writing

Because Leonardo da Vinci kept a vast quantity of journals, we have a good idea about how his mind worked, what he was thinking about, and what he saw. With William Shakespeare, we have no such record. And William Shakespear is the reason we have the English language as it is today.

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Another painting giveaway; Amazon gift cards; Pliny the Younger, Rome’s great eyewitness reporter; newsletter, Feb. 2, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,222) on Friday, February 2, 2018. Hi, I watched a super moon, a blood moon, and a lunar eclipse this week. Not as spectacular as the solar eclipse we saw last summer but still pretty phenomenal. Nature has its moments — many of them, in fact, if we would […]

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girl reading

A pointed, provocative post: Why You Should Stop Reading News by Shane Parrish

Parrish wisely makes the distinction between “news creators” and “journalists.” News creators simply want to gain your attention and hold it for as long as possible. He doesn’t spell it out, but I assume that in his view journalists report information that adds value to your life.

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Don’t miss this NYT interview with Philip Roth

Author Philip Roth, now nearly 85 and retired from writing, has given an interview to New York Times journalist Charles McGrath, and it is fascinating. Roth talks about what it was like to be a writer: Exhilaration and groaning. Frustration and freedom. Inspiration and uncertainty. Abundance and emptiness. Blazing forth and muddling through. The day-by-day […]

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BearBryant

Alabama vs. Georgia, 50+ years ago: The Saturday Evening Post-Wally Butts-Bear Bryant libel case

More than 50 years ago, the Alabama-Georgia matchup resulted, not in a national championship, but in a legal ruling that expanded the First Amendment protections we now enjoy.

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Henry Watson Fowler

A bit of wisdom from Henry Watson Fowler

Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage is still one of the best references for those interested in how the language is used.

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Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe and the development of the mystery novel

Poe lays down the rules of a mystery novel.

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bookstack3

The 100 best nonfiction books of all time: a list from The Guardian

Robert McCrum, the co-author of The Story of English (1986), has compiled a list of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time, and the list was recently published in The Guardian (The 100 best nonfiction books of all time: the full list | Books | The Guardian), a well-respected newspaper and news website in Great Britain. Such […]

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Sue Grafton

G is for Grafton: Mystery writer Sue Grafton succumbs to cancer at age 77

Sue Grafton’s private eye, Kinsey Millhone, has taken her place beside Hammett’s Sam Spade, Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe, and Macdonald’s Lew Archer.

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