Monthly Archives: December 2013

More End-of-the-Year Lists

It’s only mid-December, so the end-of-the-year listmania continues apace, to my great delight. After the more or less standard lists, here are some that are more unusual but just as interesting.

50 Covers for 2013 from The Casual Optimist. That cover of 1984 is stunning.

Great translations published this year via Three Percent and Typographical Era.

The Millions is running a wonderful series of posts called Year in Reading, with contributions from many amazing writers and critics.

And Brain Pickings has the usual embarrassment of riches with best book lists from many different fields: science and technology, psychology and philosophy, art and design, biographies, memoirs and history, as well as children’s, illustrated and picture books.

Happy reading!


Gallica Friday: Miss Lili & Azor

Gallica, the online search engine of the French National Library (BnF), is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or maybe since the baguette. Gallica Friday highlights some of the fun, interesting, and curious things I found by happily clicking around Gallica.Lili et Azor

“How Miss Lili helped her friend Azor.”

From Ecoutez-moi, a children’s book by Benjamin Rabier from 1905.

Books of the Year

I love lists, the internet loves lists, and December is the perfect month for list addicts. So here’s a roundup of best books of 2013 lists from major media outlets. My favorite is the first one, but each and every one of them suggests something new — enough to keep you reading well into 2014.

The Guardian asked writers and critics to choose the best books of 2013 (with more genre specific lists coming up.)

The FT has a very comprehensive list divided by genre.

As always, The New York Times chose 100 notable books and then the 10 best books.

The NPR‘s list is not just interesting but also very well designed.

As it usually does, The Times Literary Supplement asked writers to talk about their favorite books and what’s great is that there are quite a few translations.

And there’s more over at SlateThe Spectator, and Forbes with even more to come in the next few weeks. Do you have any favorite lists? Leave the link in the comments!

Modernism Lab

If you like modernist literature (Woolf! Joyce! Proust!), you’ll love this digital archive developed at Yale. Not only does it list many modernist texts by year with links to their online versions, it also traces the movement of several key writers from 1914 to 1926 and has a pretty informative wiki.

For instance, here’s what was happening 100 years ago in modernist land: the first volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time finally came out, Kafka published The Judgment, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion premiered in Vienna and then London, and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was performed in Paris in front of an outraged audience. Not a bad year all in all.


Children’s Books

Reading about this classic children’s books exhibit at the British Library has made me want to share some of my favorites. So here’s the first one:  Nikolai Nosov’s Neznayka — the story of light-headed Dunno/Neznayka and his group of friends, Gunky, Swifty, Bendum, Twistum and many others, who build a hot air balloon and go off on an adventure. Like most children’s books, it does have clear didactic purposes (in this case, Communist-sanctioned goals since it was written in Soviet Russia), but I can’t remember understanding it that way when I first read it as a child. It was just a very enjoyable read.

The drawings below are by A. Laptev from the Romanian edition (Aventurile lui Habarnam și ale prietenilor săi). The English translation, The Adventures of Dunno and His Friends, is available here.