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Philip Pullman is finally publishing that long-promised follow-up to His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman At London Zoo

Welcome back to Vox’s weekly book link roundup, a curated collection of the week’s best writing on books and related topics. Herewith is the best the internet has to offer for the week of February 12, 2017.

Presidential biographies don’t tell you that everything is going to be O.K., but rather that nothing was ever really O.K. to begin with. And yet, for hundreds of years, Americans have not only survived heartbreaking, backbreaking periods but also stood tall in them. My advice, for these divisive times, is to find the perspective that history gives us.

Consider these your own personal set of crystal balls—they may not tell the future precisely, but they’re certainly full of clues. And possibly strategies.

  • Philip Pullman has announced that he’s publishing a follow-up trilogy to his beloved His Dark Materials trilogy, to be called The Book of Dust. Pullman has been talking about a potential follow-up for years, but it’s unsurprising that now is the time he’s chosen to finally pull the trigger: We’re living in exactly the kind of moment that would make an old-fashioned enlightenment humanist like Pullman want to start publishing again:

"The [new] story begins before His Dark Materials and continues after it," he said, "…you don't have to read it before you read [the original trilogy] … this is another story that comes after it, so it's not a sequel, and it's not a prequel, it's an equal."

The title, The Book of Dust, refers to an invisible substance that figures largely in the earlier books — a fictional elementary particle that harbors a mysterious affinity with human consciousness.

"That's what I really wanted to explore in this new work," he said. "More about the nature of Dust, and consciousness, and what it means to be a human being."

  • A new study shows that for almost a fifth of readers, “the voices of fictional characters stayed with them even when they weren’t reading, influencing the style and tone of their thoughts – or even speaking to them directly.”
  • In honor of Valentine’s Day week: Famous literary couples, ranked from most to least happy.

Happy reading!