Well, the first installment of Bookish Headlines went over well, so here’s round two. It’s a hodgepodge of topics, including suggestions about how to organize your books, reasons to read old books in spite of their ‘problematic’ qualities, and a list of Golden Age science fiction novels:
Virginia Woolf? Snob! Richard Wright? Sexist! Dostoevsky? Anti-semite! by Brian Morton via the New York Times
There are some readers who refuse to read books from previous decades or centuries because the authors were sexist or racist or some other -ist, or they won’t read their books because the books contain such things. But Morton argues that it is important to read these books because they provide a window into earlier times, and help us not only to see the flaws of earlier times but to see our blind spots, as well.
‘Identity is a pain in the arse’: Zadie Smith on Political Correctness by Claire Armistead via The Guardian
Zadie Smith speaks out on identity politics, political correctness, and her problem with popular fictional women who are written by men.
There are generally considered to be two different Golden Ages of science fiction, but this list combines those two gilded ages into one list of memorable science fiction novels.
The notion of ‘internal exile’ has become popular, whether it’s called ‘hygge’, ‘mindfulness’ or ‘wellbeing’. It refers to the notion of people turning inward and developing an internal sanctuary to deal with dire events in the outside world. We have the notion of internal exile to thank for some brilliant Russian novels, as well as current design and wellness trends.
It’s not so much poetry slams as a long-suppressed, traditional Basque cultural event being revitalized thanks to the efforts of young women, who according to tradition, shouldn’t be competing in these events at all. The bertsolaritza is an art form involving improvised songs, and it is helping to revitalize interest in the Basque language.
Scientists Are Sharing Their Brilliant, Nerdy, and Adorable Valentine’s Poems on Twitter via IFL Science
No one ever accused NASA’s scientists of being brilliant poets, but they did create a series of hilarious twitter poems for Valentine’s Day.
When Ron Charles met the woman he eventually married, the two of them sent silly, hand-written poems back and forth to each other. They’ve since ended the tradition, but he misses it. This prompted him to think about how handwriting is becoming a lost art, and how much more magical and lasting handwritten correspondence is than an email, a text, or a tweet.
We’ve all seen rainbow shelves full of books organized by color, or even shelves with rows of spines turned inward to create a minimalistic array of white pages (and we’ve all wondered how the owners then find the books they want to read), but Houzz offered 10 different ways to organize your books that don’t involve color or flipping them the wrong way out.
In recent years, the Nobel Committee for the literature prize has been rocked by multiple scandals, allegations of sexual harassment, and is facing up to the fact that just fifteen women in a century-long history have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Because of these things, many have lost faith in the committee’s decision-making and went as far as declaring that there would be no Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018 while the committee deals with its internal problems. The Swedish Academy, who runs the Nobel Prize program, has tapped several new voices in literature and book criticism, including 31-year-old Swedish literary critic Mikaela Blomqvist. They’re hoping that new voices who are entirely separated from the previous committee will help to restore the book world’s faith in the Nobel Prize.
In Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, the primary setting is a world based upon Russia. Bardugo’s naming scheme does not, however, exactly follow Russian naming conventions. Many fans- particularly Russian fans- have taken issue with this. They feel that, because the world is based upon Russia, it should follow Russian naming conventions. But others, including Bardugo, point out that this is a fantasy world, and while it is heavily flavored by Russian lands and culture, it is still a fantasy world and so is not actually Russia. Tanjeem wants to know if this is actually problematic, or if readers are just being pedantic.
My opinion? They’re being pedantic. If Bardugo’s story had been set in Russia, then I would expect her to follow Russian naming conventions, as Katherine Arden did in her Winternight trilogy. But the Grishaverse is not Earth, and Ravka is not Russia, and therefore I don’t find it necessary for Bardugo to follow those conventions.
Am I a stickler for accuracy in books? Yes, particularly when it comes to weapons and clothing. But names? I’m actually less picky. As long as the names have the same philological grounding as the country they’re based upon (or are in line with the fantasy world they’re part of), then I don’t mind. If you look at just about any fantasy novel based on Culture X, there is sure to be something that isn’t “right” when compared to the source. If the naming conventions, history, or whatever else might be inaccurate in a book are that upsetting, there’s a simple solution: stop reading the book.