Former library director Marino Massimo De Caro is accused of theft and embezzlement of thousands of volumes of rare books, including “centuries-old editions of Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo and Machiavelli” from the Girolamini Library in Naples. The president of the Italian Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association noted that “this is the biggest books scandal to hit in the past 150 or 200 years.” At the center of this plot to remove these books, Mr. De Caro “a character who seems to have been conjured jointly by Jorge Luis Borges and the Italian crime novelist Andrea Camilleria”, said he took the books in order “to raise money to restore the library.” As an interesting aside, Mr. De Caro, who doesn’t have a college degree, apparently became director of the Girolamini Library through political connections. Read the entire fascinating NYT article here – this is the stuff movies are made of.
If you’re the parent or grandparent of a 2 to 5-year old, you must be living under a cone of kiddie lit isolation if you haven’t heard of the oh-so popular books by Mo Willems. Featuring the all-about-me Pigeon, the ever polite Duckling, best friends Elephant and Piggie, and more, the stories are presented in simple language, the illustrations charming, and the messages provide gentle guides on how to behave and be a good friend to others. The hilarious situations (e.g., should a pigeon drive the bus?) appeal to both kids and adults. One book, however, may have caused debate and disagreement in some households. It’s Knuffle Bunny. How does one pronounce “knuffle?” ‘The problem is hereby settled with this bit of research done by my fellow librarian, Kate. Here’s the skinny:
My granddaughter and I disagreed on the pronunciation the word in Mo Willem’s book. Here is the “definitive” answer.
Knuffle Bunny Too addresses a point of confusion raised by its predecessor: How do you pronounce k-n-u-f-f-l-e, a Dutch word that means “to snuggle or hug”? The fictionalized Trixie, a girl in the know, pronounces it the Dutch way, “ka-nuffle.” Sonja, her rival, says “nuffle.” Magnanimously, Willems said, “If you buy the book you can pronounce it any way you like.” He’s hardly in a position to split hairs, having learned — too late — that he goofed by transposing the “e” and the “l” in “knuffel” all through the original book.” After it was published, my mother said, ‘Why did you misspell it?’ ” His only excuse: “It didn’t come up on my spell check.”
I’m now going to agree with Leila and use “ka-nuffle.”
The Bodleian and the Vatican Libraries have joined forces to make a number of rare ancient texts available free to the public, including a 1455 Gutenberg Bible, a manuscript of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, and the oldest surviving Hebrew codex. Funded by a $3.2 million grant from the Polonsky Foundation, this “unique cultural and scholarly enterprise will provide students, scholars and the general public with easy access to these rich hidden treasures.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said that on seeing the texts, “there is a lifting of the spirits.” Read more about this project in today’s NPR article.
The basic idea of this net is simple and yet I did a double take when I saw it. Most of us probably don’t have room for such a contraption in our homes, but it looks like a great way to add some excitement to a library or den. Sort of like a built-in tree house? And, of course, reading’s not the only way to enjoy it!
The New York Times published an article earlier this month about the latest trend in the hospitality industry: library installations. The featured hotel was the Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada, which features a collection specific to local history and culture. Not only are inns taking to this new amenity, the posh Trump SoHo Hotel in New York features a library with the Taschen publishing group’s books. Publishers such as Taschen are quickly catching up to this trend, partnering with hotels to offer guests yet another option for unwinding while escaping the minutiae of traveling. Hotels, on the other hand, are increasingly adding the bookish atmosphere to their lists of featured attractions in hopes of appealing to vacationers who take time off to read. So the next time you explore hotels, type “with libraries” in your search engine. Your stay just may be more eventful than making use of that free cable and collecting those travel-sized lotions.
New York Public Library has acquired author Tom Wolfe’s archive, including materials for his novels, letters from friends Hunter S. Thompson, William F. Buckley and Gay Talese, works of journalism, and interviews with “historically significant figures like the test pilot Chuck Yeager.” Library president Anthony W. Marx called the archive “amazing”, saying: “His work touches on so much of the sociology of the city. Now this acquisition makes all of his material public.” The collection will probably be opened to researchers by next summer. Read the entire NYT article here and check the EPL catalog for works by Mr. Wolfe.
This year’s National Book Award for fiction was awarded to James McBride for The Good Lord Bird. His novel, narrated by a child follower of John Brown, was praised by the judges for “a voice as comic and original as any we have heard since Mark Twain.” Considered an underdog up against such writers as Jhumpa Lahiri and Thomas Pynchon, Mr. McBride wrote the book “amid personal tragedies” and said: “It was always nice to have somebody whose world I could just fall into and follow him around.” The award for nonfiction went to George Packer for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. The judges cited it for its “account of economic decline that traverses large cities and small towns.” The poetry award went to Mary Szybist for Incarnadine, and Cynthia Kadohata won the young people’s literature award for The Thing About Luck. You can read more about the 64th annual ceremony in this NPR article and in today’s NYT.
This informal article on how to approach reading with your children struck a chord with me because I think it reflects common sense and reality. No parent wants to be the one to turn a child away from reading! The author has grappled with wanting to encourage her children (and also students) to enjoy reading and the five simple concepts she outlines take effort to implement, but like many aspects of life, are worth attempting. See if you agree.
The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary unanimously chose selfie as the 2013 word of the year. The term, meaning a self-portrait typically snapped with a smartphone and shared over social networks, was first recorded in Australia in 2002 when someone posted this after a drunken accident: “I had a hole … right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”. “It seems like everyone who is anyone has posted a selfie somewhere on the Internet,” Oxford Dictionaries said on its blog, without offering an accompanying selfie of the writer. “If it is good enough for the Obamas or the pope, then it is good enough for Word of the Year.” Read more in today’s Los Angeles Times article. And let’s all be grateful that the word of the year wasn’t “twerking”!
It’s 272 words long and lasted about 2 minutes. It was delivered 150 years ago today at the height of the Civil War to consecrate a battlefield cemetery in Pennsylvania where over 50,000 slain soldiers from both sides were buried. It followed a speech given by former Congressman Edward Everett which ran over two hours, more typical of the oratorical style of the day. There are five copies known to have been written by Lincoln himself including the one used during his speech. They were given to his personal secretaries, friends and charitable organizations. One is on display at the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. Most people educated in the U.S. can quote the famous opening lines, and it is recognized as one of the most eloquent and powerful pieces of oratory in Western culture. The word “slavery” does not appear even once in the speech. There is much resource information available on the web. Here is an op-ed piece in today’s Chicago Trib offering more on the speech.
And, because I believe it bears reading today, here is the speech itself:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.