Monday Miscellany

Nine seems to be this week’s lucky number.

Nine Pilgrimages For the Lover of Western Literature

A pilgrimage is the focal point around which a journey wraps, not the raison d’etre per se (that is the journey itself) but rather the pulley on the far end of the rope that ratchets you out of your home and into the search for your loved one. . . . here are a possible pilgrimage sites around the world that have played a significant role in the shaping of Western literature.

Read why David Joshua Jennings and John McCarroll chose these nine sites:

  1. The Shakespeare and Company Bookshop – Paris
  2. Ernest Hemingway House – Key West
  3. Troy – Cannakale, Turkey
  4. Globe Theatre – London
  5. Walden Pond – Massachusetts
  6. Chelsea Hotel – New York
  7. James Joyce’s Dublin
  8. Lake District – England
  9. Frederico Garcia Lorca’s Andalucia

As an added bonus, there are links to four additional literary-related excursions at the end of the article.

9 Unique Reading Hotels and Resorts

Recent trends include the emergence of specific “Literature Hotels,” where the focus is all on reading, books, literature, authors and more. Here are nine unique hotels and resorts where words, sentences and paragraphs become part of the amenities.

#1: Literaturhotel Friedenau (Berlin, Germany)

#2: Literature and Art Hotel (Shanghai, China)

#3: Boutique Hotel Stadthalle (Vienna, Austria)

#4: Eleonas Agrotouristisches Hotel (Greece)

#5: Hotel Hof Weissbad (Switzerland)

#6: Mas La Colline (France)

#7: The Algonquin (New York)

#8: Hotel Marini (Italy)

#9: Hotel Kafka (Madrid, Spain)

The Good of the Critic

Elizabeth Minkel writes in The New Yorker about what book reviews, or literary criticism, really mean in today’s social media society, where anyone can post a review of anything, a review based on only unexplained personal preference. To counter such “drive-by reviewing,” she turns to a British collection of essays released earlier this year, The Good of the Novel, which is now being published in the U.S.

Paraphrasing the editors’ introduction, Minkel writes that The Good of the Novel posits that

a good novel is the kind that knocks your entire world-view off its axis, that wholly encompasses you and leaves you feeling bereft at the final page. What makes these pieces so interesting is that they adhere to the idea that “each novel writes its own constitution,” judging these books against the rules their authors have laid out for themselves at the onset, rather than some broad terms on which any novel can be judged. Unlike the drive-by review, the critic is mainly concerned with the writer, not the reader.

What do you look for in a good book review?

The books we buy to look more intelligent: How the average shelf is filled with 80 novels we have never read

Out of the United Kingdom comes this interesting research:

Do your bookshelves show that you are a widely read and intelligent individual? Or is the story somewhat different?

A survey suggests the average Briton owns 80 books which they haven’t read but are there only to make them look more intellectual.

The research found that 70 per cent of books in the average bookcase remain unopened, and four in ten of those questioned confessed that their works of literature were purely there for display purposes.

The research further discovered that Britons keep the classics on display–Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice tops the list–even if they’ve never opened the books. These same people own “trashy novels” they would never put on display: “The top five ‘guilty pleasure’ authors are Sophie Kinsella, Jodi Picoult, Jackie Collins, Helen Fielding and Danielle Steele.”

I wonder if research in the United States would turn up similar trends. Don’t we all, at times, carry around a book we’re not really reading just to impress people, or put a cover on a book we are reading so no one will see what it is?


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