Happy Saturday! The Republican National Convention is over, and now you have time to catch up on your reading. Here’s the best writing the internet has on books and related topics for the week of July 18, 2016.
- In celebration of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, Ian McKellen read two of Dahl’s letters, written to a little girl who was having trouble settling in at her new school. If you are having a rough day, I highly recommend listening to McKellen say, “When I hear that you are happy again, and the maker of music and the dreamer of dreams, I shall dance and sing and nod and nod with my mouth bulging with Cadbury’s best chocolate.” It’ll perk you right up. You can check out our ranking of Dahl’s books right here.
- Welcome to the Last Bookstore is a terrific 11-minute documentary on the founding of one of LA’s most beloved indie bookstores.
- The Brontë Society just acquired a book owned by Charlotte and Emily’s mother that includes annotations from the whole Brontë family and some of Charlotte’s unpublished juvenilia.
- Margaret Atwood talked to LitHub about politics, witchcraft, and her new book Hag-Seed. She was wonderful, as is her wont:
Donald Trump is not particularly of that ilk, but he certainly feels that a girl’s place is to look nice and stand behind, beaming adoringly. Which is sort of old-style, 1950s-beauty-contest stuff, rather than religious-right-fundamentalist-puritan stuff. But the United States has two root ideologies: one of them being the Puritanism of the 17th century, and the other being the Enlightenment of the 18th century. Trump is more of an Enlightenment figure, but, in relation to women, we must not forget that Rousseau was actually harder on them than the preceding regime. The usual thing that happens in revolutions is that men are all for women taking part as long as the revolution is ongoing. As soon as it succeeds—back to the kitchen.
- Zadie Smith talks Brexit at the NYRB and is incredibly smart, as is her wont:
Doing something, anything, was in some inchoate way the aim: the notable feature of neoliberalism is that it feels like you can do nothing to change it, but this vote offered up the rare prize of causing a chaotic rupture in a system that more usually steamrolls all in its path. But even this most optimistic leftist interpretation—that this was a violent, more or less considered reaction to austerity and the neoliberal economic meltdown that preceded it—cannot deny the casual racism that seems to have been unleashed alongside it, both by the campaign and by the vote itself.
When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say “an artist”. Inside what I really wanted to say was “a bear”. I felt trapped as a human. I wanted to be a wild thing. Perhaps that is why so many of my stories feature transformation.
- A new study has found that the more Harry Potter books you’ve read, the more likely you are to have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.
- The Library of Congress was hit by a DDoS attack this week. There’s no official word as to who was responsible or why, but the attack comes just a week after Carla Hayden was named librarian of Congress. Hayden will be both the first woman librarian of Congress and the first black librarian of Congress.
- It is Little Women week at Avidly, and I am pleased. All of their coverage is fantastic, but I am especially partial to the Meg essay, which links the infamous ball scene to the scene where the jelly just won’t jell beautifully:
Meg, in this scene, is a heartbreak: “I wish I’d been sensible and worn my own things, then I should not have disgusted other people, or felt so uncomfortable or ashamed myself.” Meg, there in her “tight dress [which] gave her an uncomfortably brilliant color” has “spoiled” and “disgusted” other people; she has not been properly preserved; she’s become bad food.
- By now you have been told several times that you should read that interview with the ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s books; you really should.
“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”