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.
That stunning cathedral of books above is the Maison de la littérature (House of Literature) in the historic neighborhood of Old Québec. The soaring space is a UNESCO World Heritage site, combining a public library and a literary center with plenty of tables to read and write. It’s built inside the former Wesley Temple, a neo-Gothic church constructed in 1848. The inside of the church was revamped to include a concert/lecture hall, resident writer’s apartment, classroom, creative studios, exhibition space, and a café. Here are tips for planning your visit and the inside scoop on how the architects approached the project.
This is very, very good: The New Yorker examines the first line of The Stranger and the trickiness of translation. ‘For the modern American reader, few lines in French literature are as famous as the opening of Albert Camus’s L’Étranger: Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Nitty-gritty tense issues aside, the first sentence of The Stranger is so elementary that even a schoolboy with a base knowledge of French could adequately translate it. So why do the pros keep getting it wrong?’
On the lighter side, here are 8 names for groups of animals. A zeal of zebras!
Kinda related: The latest issue of Words Without Borders (online, free) collects international stories that feature animals.
From rock formations to rivers, put your knowledge of world geography to the test. (I got 10/16. Meh.)
A new book from Taschen showcases the world’s most beautiful libraries. Massimo Listri. The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries measures 11x15.5 inches (29x39.5 cm), weighs 15.5 pounds (7kg), and retails for about $200. If you’re not ready to make that kind of commitment, you can take a peek inside here and here.
Writer and photographer Chris Arnade took a long walk through Bucharest and documented his experiences with the people, architecture, and general vibe of the Romanian capital.
Catherynne M. Valente is the author of Deathless, a brilliant retelling of Russian folklore (my write-up). She’s also, apparently, a great mom and a wildly creative crafter. Take a look at this rocket she built for her kiddo. (Click through to see all the photos and captions.)
The #rocketship is done!— Catherynne M. Valente (@catvalente) January 12, 2022
Some thread notes:
I KNOW it’s extra. This took a REALLY long time, 1-2 hrs a night for WEEKS. Am going through a LOT & poured all my grief & bookstress into this for my baby. The last thing I said to my aunt was I’d send her pics. Here you go, Cyd. pic.twitter.com/HNvss4QqgW
The Coolest Place to Drink Is Your Local Bookstore. It’s hard to go wrong with an opening sentence like this one: ‘A bookstore with a bar is easily one of mankind’s best inventions, up there with polar fleece and those potato chips that taste like ham.’
14 Things to Know Before You Go to Ulaanbaatar. Here’s a freebie from me: It’s in Mongolia, and it’s boomin’.
Let’s get old-timey with vocab! LitHub asks which obscure words we should bring back into daily use — and the Shedunnit podcast joins forces with The Allusionist to explore the sometimes baffling language in golden-age detective fiction.
Heads up, Austen fans! The 28th of January is Pride & Prejudice Day. The bookish folks at Jane Austen’s House are hosting an online book club and an online guided tour of the house. ‘Join us on Pride & Prejudice Day for a very special virtual guided tour of Jane Austen’s House, using the House itself and objects from the collection to reveal the themes, characters, and events of Jane Austen’s beloved novel.’
Related: Take a look at these lovely biscuits inspired by Jane Austen. (The Insta account of artist Ella Hawkins is definitely worthy of a follow. So many pretty cookies! Thanks to SSoP friend Gretchen for the tip.)
Yes, I play Wordle every morning. No, I do not want my computer to help me.
News you can use: How the Potato Chip Took Over America.
Take a virtual stroll through literary Paris. Gorgeous photos, charming prose. Sigh.
This is pretty fab:
Henley Station circa 1898. The train hasn’t even stopped and people start pouring out of the carriages dressed to the nines. pic.twitter.com/TZHObbVRBb— Bobbie☀️ (@bo66ie29) January 11, 2022
If only we could teleport to each of these cool neighborhoods across Europe! A whirlwind day of food and coffee and cocktails and books and conversation — wouldn’t that be lovely?
Crossing Delancey is one of my all-time favorite ’80s rom-coms. Our heroine works in a book store! And organizes author events! And flirts with a famous author! I was so happy to see LitHub singing its praises.
Top image courtesy of Tu Tram Pham/Unsplash.
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