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.
Ah, Prague in the snow. It’s mostly gloomy and overcast here now — in fact, David and I refer to the months between November and April as The Gray — but when we do get a dusting of snow, the spires and orange roofs look like they’ve been sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. It’s very sweet indeed. The green dome in the background of this photo belongs to St. Nicholas Church, a beautiful baroque confection in the Mala Strana (Lesser Town) neighborhood. When you visit, you can climb up the bell tower to take in a panoramic view of the neighborhood. During the communist era, the tower was used to spy on nearby embassies.
Um, did you know Shirley Jackson wrote her amazing/disturbing/compelling/haunting story The Lottery in just one day?
The Best Reviewed Books of 2021: Graphic Literature. It’s great to see graphic lit get the love it deserves.
For your consideration, a variety of adorable penguins.
This is a fascinating peek inside how seven literary translators became translators. ‘There was the way in which my fishing village’s songs would switch between Basque and Spanish for humorous effect—always at the expense of Spanish. It made me realize the beautiful possibilities of playing with languages, of hiding revolt within lyrics, of the subversive power that could be exercised through the use of a language deemed useless, less-than… It turned the mere act of listening and understanding into an act of rebellion. I internalized that there was something very powerful in being able to navigate languages — especially endangered ones like ours.’
I missed this during Met Gala season, but something this good is timeless: The Met Gala looks as Medieval art.
Quiz: How well do you know the world’s most striking architecture? (We scored a middling 10/16.)
Emily St. John Mandel talks to Esquire about her novel Station Eleven and its new screen adaptation.
A snowy moment of zen:
A peaceful moment in the snow with the largest trees in the world, the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), captured by photographer Michael Block. pic.twitter.com/hqiwzYuj9c— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) December 14, 2021
Sure, Substack is a fairly new phenomenon, but there was a newsletter boom during the Renaissance.’… newsletters began in mid-fifteenth-century Venice. Subscribers would receive handwritten letters twice a week rounding up interesting events. Sixteenth-century merchants used similar news sources to keep track of exchange rates, taxes, and other business news.’
What It’s a Wonderful Life Teaches Us About American History. ‘Beyond the inspirational qualities and memorable moments that make the movie a beloved holiday staple, It’s a Wonderful Life can be explored and viewed in another way: as a presentation of history on the screen.’
News you can use: How ice sculptures are made.
Breakfast is our favorite meal to eat in restaurants on vacation. Here’s a roundup of the best breakfasts around the world. Shakshuka! Roti Bakar! Pumpkin Pancakes!
I’ve never seen anything like this before: a mini forest inside a fish tank.
Since we’re all still spending so much time at home, here are 10 surprising facts about everyday household objects.
The 99% Invisible podcast delves into the history of the Three Santas of Slovenia. ‘Like children in other parts of the world, Slovenian kids are visited by Santa Claus every Christmas Eve (he’s called Božiček), but he isn’t the only magical holiday man in the land… They also have a more traditional option available. A Catholic saint called Miklavž who dishes out the gifts on the night of December 5th. If that weren’t enough, there’s also a uniquely Slovenian Santa who comes down from the country’s highest mountain every New Year’s Day to shower the children of Slovenia with good wishes and even more presents. He is called Dedek Mraz.’
Christmas Eve is the perfect time to pretend to be Icelandic and celebrate Jólabókaflóðið, a.k.a., an evening of reading and chocolate. (Should you need more holiday cheer, here’s all of our Christmas-related books, recipes, and other goodies.)
Sometimes, you just need to look at a grumpy cat in Red Square:
Top image courtesy of Feel good studio/Shutterstock.
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