Culture

Critical Linking, January 4, 2019

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When they’re planning their vacations, literary tourists look for beautiful and historic bookstores, places of bookish importance and cities where the current literary scene is alive and well. If this sounds like your kind of trip, then we’ve got some recommendations on where you should start.

*Starts packing bags*

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But miniature books have a much longer history. The British Library points to two small cuneiform tablets from ancient Mesopotamia. Both concerned with trading information about animals and provisions, one is dated to around 2325BC and measures 15/8 by 11/2 inches; the other is dated 2200BC and measures 17/8 by 11/4 inches. In AD770, the Japanese empress Shotoku gave orders for the printing of 1m copies of a prayer scroll a mere 23/8 inches tall, the D’harani prayer. These writings were made miniature, writes the British Library’s Annalisa Ricciardi, “so that men and women of faith could easily bring with them their collection of psalms and devotional books, students could carry their small library in a pocket, smugglers of ideas could easily hide tiny booklets in a secret bottom of their cape, merchants could quickly retrieve from their belt a tiny but complete guide on the equivalence of grains prices, scales, measures and conversion, and foreign currencies value meanwhile closing a deal, or sharp businessmen could brilliantly define a legal contract”.

A fascinating read about miniature books

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Here, again, are 2019 books by women of color, as well as by nonbinary people of color: novels, collections, memoirs, and anthologies. This is the third year I’ve assembled such a list for Electric Literature. I’m delighted to learn that the previous two years’ lists have been among the publication’s most shared pieces of 2018 and 2017; I’m dismayed by how necessary the list still seems to be. May this list become less useful, and may we all read more broadly.

Adding so many books to the TBR

 

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