April 10, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 179 (4-April to 10-April)

1. Debut author Weike Wang wins PEN/Hemingway for her book Chemistry

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2. The Rathbones Folio Prize Shortlist Is Announced

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3. Fury as Man Booker bows to pressure to list Taiwan as Chinese province

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4. Publisher of ‘Things Fall Apart’ faces collapse as court orders its sale

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5. Amazon is Shutting Down Its Crowd-Sourcing Platform, Kindle Scout

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April 9, 2018
by Neelima
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Nuclear War and the Periodic Table @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 2)

There was a bit of doom and gloom in the BYOB Party.

Image result for Has Man a Future?amazonArchit got the famous book Sapiens by Yuval Harari. We’ve talked about the book many times. It made sense that the book he bought with it was Has Man a Future? by Bertrand Russell, one of the world’s most eminent philosophers of the twentieth century. The book was written during the Cold War when the world was on the brink of nuclear war. What struck Archit as scary was that book is relevant even today.  Even today, disarmament hasn’t turned into a collective objective with guns entering classrooms and nuclear warheads raising their heads in political banter. The possibility of a nuclear war is not exaggerated.

Image result for sapiensamazonAlthough Sapiens means Wise, the term is at best ironic. In the book, Sapiens, Harari explains how man evolved and hasn’t become wiser. He seemed to have been better off in the pre-agricultural era when he was a hunter-gatherer.  This was the only time in recorded history that he was aware of the food that he ate and the true nature of his surroundings. An argument grew around this- can anyone know everything? Doesn’t the very reason for stratification and division of labor stem from the fact that knowledge is shared property? Since there is a discrepancy in the time required for evolution to occur and the lightning speed of the human brain, inequality is the norm. Human beings have always tipped the scale and so this whole idea of an equal society in pursuit of happiness is silly. Sapiens is an important book simply because of the arguments it encourages. Part 2 of the book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, is equally horrific in the way it lays bare mankind’s stupidity.

Amrutha talked about a six-part sci-fi story set in a dystopian world where only Korea remains, the rest having being destroyed by nuclear war,  and mentioned how human beings are reborn as their prehistoric ancestors. Can anyone tell me which book this is? All my google searching didn’t help.

Image result for the periodic table primo levi amazonRitu was spurred to get a copy of a book she read long ago when she was young and later again when she was older. The book called The Periodic Table by Primo Levi is a series of short stories which tells the author’s own story- his experience being an Italian Jewish chemist during the World War era, a particularly unfortunate time to be Jewish.  Each story in the book is named after a particular element, which very cleverly becomes heavier and heavier towards the end of the book.  The book begins with so much promise but towards the end, the author must face the concentration camp. Although the ending is sad, it feels like dusk, Ritu says, beautiful and filled with color but with the heaviness of the ending day.

Amrutha read this book too and wondered how teachers could make a subject like chemistry so boring. “You need to include one of these chapters in the school curriculum,” she said. That’s a nice thought.

 

April 6, 2018
by Neelima
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Visual Friday: Poets who Write Prose

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April 5, 2018
by Neelima
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Bibliomancy @ Link Wanderlust

When Books Read You, a Defense of Bibliomancy by Ed Simon is an interesting read particularly if the art of divination interests you. Tarot and palm readers, IChing followers and those who believe in omens and signs will have a special liking for this article as books have also been recorded as being used to predict the future. Books initially existed as scrolls and later on they were bound with a cover. This act of binding itself separates the book or the word from the rest of the world. The alphabet is after all the predecessor of the spell, magic and religion.

“Charles [Stuart King] turned to a book during what he assumed was the height of his political, military, and personal misfortunes; and with an affinity for superstition matched only by his belief that his very divine touch could cure sickness, Charles asked Virgil what his fortune would be. Letting the cracked leather spine hit the dark wooden surface of some Oxford desk, and with his eyes closed, the King pointed to some random line of Latin on some random page of Virgil. He did not like the fortune which had been caste.”

The author of the essay mentions rhapsodamancy, where poetry plays the role of prophet. Unlike throwing sticks and dice, words begetting futures makes the reader a participant of the book; if his or her future resides in the book, then the reader is more pertinent than even the author, giving additional weight to the phrase ‘death of the author’.

Read the essay here. You may want to check out the Bibliomancy Oracle on Twitter as well.

 

 

April 3, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 178 (28-March to 3-April)

1. Philip Kerr obituary

2. Amazon to Spend a Billion Dollars to License “The Three-Body Problem”?

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3. Ukrainian duo make money from new model of book publishing

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4. Female writers lead shortlist for International Dylan Thomas Prize

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5. Jacqueline Woodson: US teen author wins $600,000 Astrid Lindgren prize

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April 2, 2018
by Neelima
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The Roaring Twenties and the Swinging Sixties @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 1)

Image result for the great gatsby book amazonPratyush is usually into philosophy but this time he came to the BYOB Party with a classic, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a book unanimously voted by the group as an easier read even though it has the classic tag attached to it.  The book as most of you must know is set in the Jazz Age in the US, the 1920s, and deals with love and luxury. Fitzgerald portrays wealth by using lushness in his descriptions as well; for instance in the book there is a passage about Gatsby’s Rolls-Royce describing its ‘rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns.’

The question arose about the fact that the classics were written keeping a certain generation of people in mind. Today when the world is your oyster or the world is in your cellphone, do you really to know what a particular historical monument looks like when you can google a picture and much information about it? Apurba believes that this age perhaps does not require descriptive writing as much. She spoke about another book by Fitzgerald that she particularly admired – This Side of Paradise which tells the story of Amory Blaine from prep school to Princeton; the description of Princeton and the students’ perspective was enlightening.

Stephen spoke about how he read books on Wodehouse on weekdays and a Dick Francis omnibus on weekends. He spoke at great length about the relatable crime thrillers set in the 1960s. He was a unique figure, a champion steeplechase jockey and bestselling author of 42 crime novels (An unauthorized biography of the author by Graham Lord claimed that Francis’s wife, Mary, wrote most of his books but refused to reveal this as the books would sell more if  ‘authored’ by a man. This claim has been denied).

 

March 29, 2018
by Neelima
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Animals in the Anthropocene Era @ Link Wanderlust

This week, the last male white rhino in the world died, just one of many animals who have borne the brunt of living in the Anthropocene age. The relationship between human beings and animals has been a messy one interspersed with dependency, exploitation and mass murder. In her essay, Animal Agents, Amanda Rees explores the way human beings have thought about animals and how changes in this thought process can lead to a better harmony between the species. In literature, very few stories have done justice to the thoughts of animal protagonists. If they are noble, they display human qualities of what it means to us to be noble. We have never thought of delving into what an animal’s idea of noble could be. Animals are used as attractive baits in children’s fiction and also allegorically to make sense of social inadequacies. Rees mentions how William Golding changed that with his book The Inheritors where he delves into the consciousness of his understanding of the Neanderthal race. Golding’s approach would subsequently be used by animal behaviorists when they looked at each animal as an individual.

Only those who worked directly with animals – farmers, shepherds, horse-riders, dog-handlers, falconers – seemed ready to speak of the significance of animal individuality or animal personality. Not to mention calculation and intent. Close up, each animal is different, and the nature of the relationship between individual humans and specific animals is unique.

The author makes it painfully clear that human agency may not be adequate enough to provide a more holistic view of the animal world. We’ve been living with blinkers on for a long time and know next to nothing about the way the animals who inhabit this planet along with us think.

Rhinocerous beside leafless trees at dusk

 

 

March 27, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 177 (21-March to 27-March)

1. Booksellers remove racist and Holocaust denial titles from their websites

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2. Audio Publishers Association Names Its Four Top Finalists for the 2018 Audie Awards

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3. Republic of Consciousness Prize Goes to Influx Press and Author Eley Williams

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4. Black Lives Matter novel wins Waterstones children’s book of the year

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5. Sanjay Dutt’s objection to his ‘unauthorised biography’ reveals publishing’s friction with Bollywood

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March 23, 2018
by Neelima
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Visual Friday: 20 Quirks & Strange Habits-The Weird Side of Writers

Please include attribution to https://custom-writing.org/ with this graphic.

<a href=”https://custom-writing.org/#famous-writers“><img style=”width: 80%;” src=”https://custom-writing.org/outer/img/infographic/20-quirks-and-strange-habits.png” /></a><br>
Infographic by Jack Milgram <a href=”https://custom-writing.org/#famous-writers“>Custom-Writing.Org</a>


Infographic by Jack Milgram Custom-Writing.Org