Madrid Bookshop, Austen Cookbook, Victorian Circus, Train Talk & More: Endnotes 23 July

Madrid Bookshop, Austen Cookbook, Victorian Circus, Train Talk & More: Endnotes 23 July

Friday, 23 July, 2021

Every Friday, we celebrate the weekend — and all the reading and relaxing and daydreaming time ahead — with Melissa's favorite book- and travel-related links of the week. Why work when you can read fun stuff?!

This post is part of our Endnotes series.


This cheery bookshop is Libros por un Mundo mejor (‘Books for a Better World’), and you can find it in the Malasaña neighborhood of Madrid, Spain. The shop sells books, yes — fiction, poetry, essays — and it’s also a community space with writing classes, singing workshops, meditation practice, and more. It’s surrounded by other artsy, youthful creative businesses — vintage shops, bakeries, coffee shops, bars, and the nearby Conde Duque cultural center with art shows and open-air movies in its 18th-century halls and courtyards. More here and here.

  • Don’t you want to design your own library?! (And get a recommendation for a classic book as a bonus?)

  • Thanks to this cookbook, you can almost have tea with Jane Austen and enjoy one of her favorite foods: toasted cheese and mead. But it’s not all British fare. ‘Flavors seized from South Asia dot the volume, including a Receipt to Curry [chicken] after the India Manner and India Pickel, a recipe for cabbage or cauliflower preserved in vinegar, mustard seed, and Termeric.’ (Buy it from

  • Handy! Ideas for finding more time to read.

  • These photos of circus derring-do from the Victorian-era Sanger Circus are amazing! ‘In Victorian England, the circus appealed across an otherwise class-divided society, its audiences ranging from poor peddlers to prestigious public figures. The acts that attracted such audiences included reenacted battle scenes, which reinforced patriotic identity; exotic animal displays that demonstrated the reach of Britain’s growing empire; female acrobatics, which disclosed anxieties about women’s changing role in the public sphere; and clowning, which spoke to popular understandings of these poor players’ melancholy lives on the margins of society.’

black and white photo of victorian circus performers

  • You might know cartoonist Tom Gauld from the literary cartoons he shares in The Guardian each week. This fall, he’s releasing his children’s book The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess. So cute!

  • Rather than being an introvert’s nightmare, the descriptions of conversations with strangers on a cross-country train in this essay make it all seem so nice. ‘…I feel the same way about strangers: vessels of unknowable cargo, containers of whole universes, silently passing in front of us day after day, and us unaware. Some traditional island cultures believed this literally—that strangers are visitors from other dimensions lying beyond the known horizon. In a sense, they’re right. They are. And we can go our whole lives without even seeing them if we don’t learn to look.’

  • Yes, reading fiction really will make you kinder and more empathetic.

  • Phew. I loved this essay Quarantined to Room 903. It’s about freedom, fear, food, routine, peace, and life. ‘You must be bored stiff, friends texted when they checked in on my last days. I wasn’t. Except for the chicken. The bubble I inhabited was marvelous. I felt my burdens dissipate. Like I’d left them outside when I entered the room. In its place was complete freedom within the confines of the physical space, without the need to feel busy or structure time. In our dark and depressing world of COVID and Trump of which there was no end in sight yet, I took my miracles where I found them.’

  • Whoa: Where America’s Lost Luggage Ends Up.

  • This week in 1856, The Diary of Anne Rodway by Wilkie Collins was published in the magazine Household Words. The heroine of his story is thought to be the first woman detective in English fiction! You can read a PDF of the story here.

  • Enjoy this swoon-worthy metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia.

  • Author Chuck Wendig talks to Shondaland about his new haunted house novel The Book of Accidents.

  • Sort related: Haunted Objects in Women’s Weird Fiction. ‘Like hermit crabs, ghosts and demonic forces are extremely adaptable when it comes to finding a new home. Especially fond of portraits, mirrors, and dolls, they have also been known to inhabit more mundane items. A saucepan. A fur boa. A pair of gloves. A snuff box. Household items charged with supernatural power are a common motif in the large body of weird fiction…’

  • We’re huge (massive) fans of Natasha Pulley’s work. (Read our reviews of The Bedlam Stacks and The Kingdoms.) This is such a good chat…

  • Such good news: Venice says ‘no’ to cruise ships. Starting on 01 August 2021, cruise ships won’t be allowed to enter Venice’s fragile lagoon.

  • The Rare Commons newsletter is devoted to online exhibits and the digital humanities; it goes deep into nerd territory with a fun tone and fascinating details. A recent installment is all about rare books and manuscripts. ‘This month’s newsletter looks not just at what parchment is, how it’s historically been used to make books in Europe, and why it fell out of favor, but also at what it can tell us about how we interact with media and information on a day-to-day basis.’

  • In Lyon, France, artist Ememem — known as ‘the pavement surgeon’ — fills cracks in the street and sidewalk with colorful mosaic tiles. Read about his work at My Modern Met, visit his website, and follow him on Instagram.


May you be charmed by something unexpected (and maybe a little magical) this week.

Top image courtesy of Boris-B/Shutterstock.

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Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got improv typewriter poetry, city squares around the globe, best crime novels, Lewis Carroll's 'Alice' illustrations, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got surfing with Agatha Christie, a beautiful Budapest flat, mythical spots IRL, who versus whom, Dick Francis novels, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got 'Jane Eyre' as a sacred text, bookstore cats, a chat with Daniel Silva, crossword puzzle secrets, European must-see, and more.

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