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.
What did you do last Thursday? In 2005 UNESCO designated the third Thursday of November World Philosophy Day. This year, the Institute of Art and Ideas celebrated with a list of 70 philosophy books everyone should read. With its own caveat that it is "by no means exhaustive" and that some key titles and thinkers are missing, it is nonetheless a decent overview that refuses to linger around old white males for too long; categories include ancient Indian philosophy, Japanese philosophy, Islamic philosophy, feminism, and African philosophy alongside the usual line-up of Greeks, Romans, Enlightenment thinkers and phenomenologists. The full list is here, but we've got some of the highlights for you below.
Ancient Indian philosophy: The Upanishads (8th to 1st century BCE) are a collection of over 200 religious and philosophical texts. Each Upanishad stands alone but taken together, they offer both a univocal account of the importance of religious knowledge and conflicting messages about reality and the individual self.
Japanese philosophy: The ideas of Nishida Kitarō were crucial to the development of Japanese philosophy in the twentieth century. An Inquiry Into the Good (1911) marks the start of his thinking around the concept of "pure experience," a concept he expresses through Zen Buddhism.
Islamic philosophy: Averroes, or Ibn Rushd, argued from an Islamic legal perspective in The Decisive Treatise (1178) that philosophy is not in conflict with Islam; he claimed that not only was it allowed, it was actually mandated in the Qur'an.
Feminism: You've heard of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex (1949) and Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own (1929), but what about Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), where she takes on a report presented to the French government that suggested that women were not suited for formal education? Wollstonecraft argued that women are indeed rational—they appear otherwise specifically because they have been denied a proper education.
African philosophy: Kenyan philosopher Henry Odera Oruka began his Sage Philosophy Project in the 1970s to document the thinking of wise men and women in communities across Africa. Sage Philosophy: Indigenous Thinkers and Modern Debate on African Philosophy (1990) countered the Eurocentric bias against viewing traditional African sages as philosophers.
Postcolonialism: While her professor and lover Martin Heidegger did not make the IAI's list (perhaps due to readability issues, or his involvement with Nazism), Hannah Arendt did, with The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951). Her analysis of Nazism and Stalinism is often lauded as one of the best nonfiction books of the twentieth century; it experienced a new surge in popularity after the 2016 U.S. elections.
By Deb A.
What makes a book difficult, and is that a bad thing? (The Guardian)
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation has announced its shortlist for next year's prize.
Behind the scenes with the impressive list of celebrities reading children to sleep on CBeebies Bedtime Stories. (BBC)
Jawohl! The Deutsche Welle has put together a list of 100 must-reads translated from German into English.
Artist Tania Willard's recent work turns the wind into a poet. (CBC)
The science is in on how to become a successful artist. (artnet; full study, published in Science, available here)
The 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books are here!
By Deb A.
Hallowe'en is looming, so we turn this week to something a little more gory. This month not one but two blood-based art projects have hit the headlines, both with a political message.
Marc Quinn will draw blood from 5000 people for his next piece in order to highlight the global refugee crisis and, crucially, raise money for refugees worldwide. Billed as "a monument to our common humanity" that emphasises "how there is more that unites us than divides us," Odyssey will feature two cubes, each containing one metric ton of frozen blood--one cube will hold blood drawn from refugees, while the other will hold blood drawn from non-refugees around the world, including celebrities such as Anna Wintour and Jude Law. The cubes will be unlabelled, pushing viewers to recognise the basic humanity that is shared by us all. If you would like to stand in solidarity with refugees, or even if you just fancy the idea of your blood mingling with Paul McCartney's DNA, you can buy the chance to donate your blood to the artwork. Odyssey will debut outside the New York Public Library in Autumn 2019, then go on a global tour.
Earlier this month Khaled Jarrar stood on Wall Street selling vials of his own blood from a cooler with the aim of drawing attention to the role of America's military industry in war and violence. In his performance piece Blood for Sale, Jarrar sold his first eight bottles of blood for $19.48 to mark the price of Smith and Wesson stock and the 1948 Palestine War. The rest were valued according to the stock prices of 15 major American defence contractors: from $75 (Science Applications International Corporation) to $347 (Lockheed Martin). Interested passers-by who preferred to simply make a donation or buy the accompanying certificate without incurring the inconvenience of having to carry blood around for the rest of their day were rebuffed: As taxpayers to the American government, they already had blood on their hands, Jarrar reasoned. Proceeds of the sales of the 50 10-ml samples will be donated to hospitals in Yemen and Gaza.
By Deb A.
The dog in Rembrandt's masterpiece is slowly fading away as a white haze creeps over the 12 x 14-foot painting. It is time for The Night Watch to be restored.
Rembrandt reinvented the portrait with his The Night Watch in 1642. Commissioned to paint a group portrait of a civic guard, he moved beyond the tradition of depicting the subjects in a static pose and opted to instead tell a story by painting the men going into action.
The Night Watch is the jewel in the Rijksmuseum's crown and will remain on view to the public as it is analysed and restored in front of a live audience: It will stay in the Night Watch Hall throughout (albeit behind a glass chamber), and a live feed will be broadcast online for the world to watch. The museum's director, Taco Dibbits, explained that The Night Watch "is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It belongs to us all, and that is why we have decided to conduct the restoration within the museum itself--and everyone, wherever they are, will be able to follow the process online."
The restoration is due to begin in July 2019, after the museum has marked the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death with an exhibition of its collection of over 400 of the artist's works. The restoration is expected to take several years. Don't forget to tune in!
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