Sunday, March 01, 2009

Links & Reviews

- After a stunningly stupid statement by Providence's mayor ("The [Providence Public Library] is a private non-profit, but that does not mean it has the right to transform itself into a boutique institution built around its valuable rare books") Rick Ring rises, justly, to his own defense in "From the Boutique."

- A burst sprinkler valve at the National Library of Scotland late last week caused water to cascade through the building from top to bottom, according to press reports, and several hundred books are believed to be damaged. The Times report indicates that staff do not believe any of the major treasures were destroyed. This flood comes hot on the heels of another major soaking at the library back in September 2007.

- Nick Hornby has an essay in the Times about being asked to choose forty of his favorite books for a "writer's table" at Waterstone's. He writes of the phrase "I think you'll like it": "You think I'll like it, do you? Well, it has taken me more than 50 years to get anywhere near an understanding of what I think I might like, and even then I get it wrong half the time, so what chance have you got?" Here's the list, too.

- After complaints from authors, including Authors Guild head Roy Blount, Jr. (in an NYTimes op/ed), Amazon announced this week that publishers would be allowed to choose whether their books could be "read aloud" by the new Kindle.

- J.L. Bell has a list of the events planned this week in Boston to mark the anniversary of the Boston Massacre (5 March), and promises more this week on "the historical nooks and crannies of the Boston Massacre."

- An Italian reporter believes he's found an early self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, mostly hidden under writing in da Vinci's manuscript "Codex on the Flight of Birds" in the Turin Royal Library.

- Mayor Menino and BPL president Amy Ryan opened a brand new branch of the Boston Public Library in Mattapan yesterday. The 21,000-square foot building, designed as the most environmentally-friendly and technologically-advanced library in the Boston system, is the first new library in the Mattapan neighborhood since 1932.

- Scott Brown is blogging again at the Eureka Books Blog. I've added a link on the sidebar.

- I've posted my first post at Fine Books Blog (where Scott will also be contributing): it's about some Walt Whitman notebooks missing from the Library of Congress. Check it out - you could solve a mystery!

- And speaking of Fine Books Blog, Stephen Gertz has a neat post there, about the future of the rare book shop. And he asks for feedback on the following questions: "As a collector, what do you want to experience in a rare book shop? As a dealer, what are your thoughts on the rare book retail experience and the future?"

- At Paper Cuts, Steve Coates remembers Samuel Johnson's cat, Hodge.

- The Harvard Crimson had "15 Questions for Jill Lepore," mostly about Blindspot. One of the exchanges: "If you wrote a historical paper, you would hope that people judge you by your insight. How should people judge you through this work? Is it just a romp? JL: It would be very easy to make too much of it. Yes, it is a romp. But also, because we really care about this period, it’s an attempt to get out of a kind of stalled debate in American historical scholarship between an economic interpretation of the American revolution and an intellectual interpretation." [h/t Cliopatria]

- In the March Smithsonian, a piece on how forensic anthropology is solving colonial-era crimes. This accompanies the exhibit "Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake" at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. [h/t Cliopatria]

- Paul Collins has a post on Dickens and the Mendacity Society, and notes his New Scientist piece this week on early "auto safety."


- At Slate, Adam Kirsch reviews the two new Samuel Johnson bios, by Meyers and Martin.

- In the London Review of Books, Eric Hobsbawm reviews Simon Winchester's The Man Who Loved China (published in the UK as Book, Bomb, and Compass: Joseph Needham and the Great Secrets of China).

- Bill Williams reviews Bruce Chadwick's I Am Murdered in the Boston Globe. I'm reading this one at the moment.

- At The National (Dubai), Caleb Crain reviews On Kindness by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor.

- In the LATimes, Nick Owchar reviews Dan Simmons' Drood and the forthcoming novel from Matthew Pearl, The Last Dickens (which I'm super-excited about).

- David Wootton reviews Sir Keith Thomas' The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfillment in Early Modern England for the TLS.

- In the Boston Globe, James Sullivan reviews Hugh Howard's The Painter's Chair: George Washington and the Making of American Art.

- Also in the Globe, Shelley Murphy reviews Ulrich Boser's The Gardner Heist.

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