By Deb A.
Is it time to get away? For the days when picking up a book isn't quite enough to truly transport you to another world, here are some places that might help.
Book and Bed, Tokyo & Kyoto, Japan
Book lovers on a budget might enjoy Japan's Book and Bed hostels, which are centred on the concept of "Accommodation Bookstore." Shelves upon shelves of books surround the curtained-off rooms so that when you're done reading, you can just drift off to sleep.
Boutique Hotel + Spa, Zurich, Switzerland
Food and drink are generally frowned upon in libraries, but the Wine Library, which was once a brewery, offers small plates and wine around the clock in case you need sustenance while reading one of the library's 33,000 titles.
Gladstone's Library, Flintshire, Wales
Technically, this is not a hotel; rather, it is a residential library with nearly 150,000 printed items... and 26 boutique bedrooms. Guests have extended use of the Reading Rooms and may bring library books back to their rooms. There are also books in all public rooms
Heathman Hotel, Portland, U.S.A.
The two-storey Heathman Hotel Library houses over 3,000 books signed by their authors, who include Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. Poet Laureates, and former U.S. Presidents. It is a rare beast: a catalogued lending hotel library.
Juffing Hotel & Spa, Tyrol, Austria
It is clear as soon as you enter the Juffing Hotel & Spa that this will be a thinking person's retreat: Quotes from famous authors line the hallways, there are two libraries (one in the lobby and one in the spa) and each guest room is dedicated to a particular author or topic. You can also borrow iPods with audio books. If you don't manage to finish your paperback before you leave, you can arrange to take it with you and send it back when you're done.
The Library, Koh Samui, Thailand
The Library's library, The Lib, is a minimalist white room with a curated collection of over 1,400 books. It overlooks the sea, but guests will probably prefer to read by the hotel's Red Pool or nearby Chaweng Beach.
Library Hotel, New York City, U.S.A.
New York City's Library Hotel organises its more than 6,000 books by the Dewey Decimal System, just like your local library. One of the Dewey Decimal System's 10 categories provides the theme for each floor of the hotel, and every guest room features 50-150 books on a particular topic.
âSchloss Elmau, Elmau, Germany
The site of the 2015 G7 summit offers the Silentium Library for "reading, thinking & dreaming," but if you need to roll up your sleeves, head to the Wetterstein Library ("for working") instead. If you're not adverse to a chat and a drink while you try to finish the last pages of your paperback, try the Library Lounge at the Retreat. There's also a bookstore that holds book presentations and talks with authors.
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, India
The Palace Library is billed as one the grandest of the hotel's already quite grand rooms. Amongst its 5,900 books is a rare book collection for you to peruse under the ornate teak ceilings.
By Deb A.
There is something slightly different about the coverage of the 2019 winner of one of Australia's most prestigious literary prizes; it is as though there are too many angles to address at once. The Victorian Prize for Literature honours the best in Australian writing, but the winning book was not written by an Australian citizen or permanent resident. It did not take shape in a traditional way: It was neither scribbled into a notebook nor typed into a laptop. No; the winning author, Behrouz Boochani, is a Kurdish-Iranian refugee living in detention on Manus Island. He wrote his non-fiction book, No Friend But the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison, in Farsi and primarily on WhatsApp, sending his work message by message directly to his translator to ensure it would not be destroyed.
The Wheeler Centre, which organises the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, called No Friend But the Mountains "a voice of witness, an act of survival, a first-hand account, a cry of resistance, a vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile," It made an exception to its rules on the recommendation of its judges so that Mr. Boochani could enter the competition, noting that the story of asylum seekers on Manus Island is an Australian story and therefore including No Friend But the Mountains for consideration was in the spirit of the awards' intention. The Australian government did not make an exception to its rules, however; Mr. Boochani was not allowed to accept his prize in person in Melbourne. Instead, his translator, Omid Tofighian was there in person, watching the author deliver his speech via video link.
"This award is a victory," Mr. Boochani told the audience. "A victory for human beings, for human dignity, A victory against a system that has never recognised us as human beings. It is a victory against a system that has reduced us to numbers."
Mr. Boochani is a journalist who fled Iran after several of his colleagues were imprisoned. He has chronicled life in detainment for The Guardian and filmed and codirected a documentary, Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, on his phone. The centre where he was originally detained was closed in 2017; since then, he has lived in facilities that Amnesty International described as "moving refugees and asylum seekers from one hellish situation to another." Upon receiving the Victorian Prize for Literature, he told The Guardian that his "main aim has always been for the people in Australia and around the world to understand deeply how this system has tortured innocent people on Manus and Nauru in a systematic way for almost six years."
Follow Behrouz Boochani on Twitter: @BehrouzBoochani
By Deb A.
The first ICYMI of the 2019 is all about gratitude and celebration. Read on!
... to Lin-Manuel Miranda and three Hamilton collaborators, who are saving New York City's Drama Book Shop, (New York Times)
... to Simon Beattie, founder of the gorgeous We Love Endpapers group, and to The Guardian for helping the world discover it.
... to Georg P. Salzmann (1929–2013): With recent surveys showing that 5% of British adults do not believe the Holocaust happened and that 20% of young Canadians don't know or aren't sure what the Holocaust is, it's heartening to return to the story of Georg Salzmann, who spent nearly 40 years collecting around 12,000 books banned by the Nazis. (BBC)
... to Wyatt Walker, college basketball player and man with the arm that will save an ancient Roman statue. (Hyperallergic)
... to Jayant Kaikini and translator Tejaswini Niranjana, winners of the 2018 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for No Presents Please. This is the first time that the award has gone to a translated work. (The Indian Express)
... to Hannah Sullivan, who won the 2018 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for her debut collection, Three Poems. (Faber)
... to Duncan Murrell for winning the Ocean Art Underwater Photography Contest with his "Devil Ray Ballet". (Lonely Planet)
By Deb A.
Let's start the year with some optimism: $1.7 million dollars has been awarded to an academic research project focused on rescuing the poems, letters, and reflections written by European women in the early modern period (1500-1780).
The goal of Women's Invisible Ink: Trans-Genre Writing and the Gendering of Intellectual Value in Early Modernity is not to find the female Shakespeare. Instead, Carme Font, a lecturer in English literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, wants to finally accord value to the writing that until now had been cast aside.
Font and her team will uncover texts written by women who, for the most part, had no formal education. While their style may be less sophisticated than the treatises of their educated male contemporaries, these stories and diaries and prayers and poems nevertheless contain intellectually valuable thoughts.
Taken together, they present a view of the world that has yet to be acknowledged and appreciated.
Most of what women of the time wrote about their lives and ideas was not considered intellectual, whether they were addressing philosophical or religious questions or describing their lives and struggles. Font argues that throughout history, misogyny has permeated how people evaluate texts, leading to what she terms "cognitive androcentrism."
We still tend to forget that women's experiences are worthy too; as Font told El País, "we do not value a woman's text about the pain of childbirth, but we do value a soldier's letter from the front."
In recovering women's voices, Font aims to change our perceptions of women's intellectual contribution to civilisation. With her European Research Council funding, she will employ five full-time researchers to pore through national archives, libraries, and private collections, amassing a powerful collective legacy for us all.
By Deb A.
For anyone who lacks Pantone's confidence in predicting the future (get ready for the "life-affirming" Living Coral), there is always the calm comfort of a look back into the recent past with the intent of crowning a champion. And so this year, we once again scrape through a series of 'best books of 2018' lists in order to see what titles pop up again and again. Please note that what you are about to read may be helpful if you're looking for a last-minute Christmas gift or a treat for yourself, but it is completely and utterly emancipated from scientific rigour.
This year we consulted sources that skew American: the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, NPR staff picks, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Public Library, along with the CBC, the Financial Times, and the Guardian's favourite authors. Here's what they think you should read.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
From the publisher: "A dazzling adventure story about a boy who rises from the ashes of slavery to become a free man of the world."
Esi Edugyan's third novel pleased Americans, Brits, and Canadians alike—hardly surprising for a book that won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
From the publisher: "...explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice."
Lisa Halliday's debut juxtaposes a May-December affair between an editor and a Philip Rothlike novelist with the detention of an Iraqi-American at Heathrow airport.
There There by Tommy Orange
From the publisher: "a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide."
Championed by Margaret Atwood, Tommy Orange's first novel follows 12 Urban Indians at the Big Oakland Powwow.
From the publisher: "An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University."
Tara Westover didn't go to school until she was 17. Educated is her story of her life in a fundamentalist Mormon family and her relentless quest for knowledge.
From the publisher: "A brilliant and brave investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs–and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences."
Coming off a hypnotically stylish Netflix documentary series based on his book, Cooked, Michael Pollan's next step after years of examining food and our relationship to it is a first- and third-person examination of mind-altering drugs and human consciousness.
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