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.
Those cute little guys above are rakan, stone statues that represent the enlightened disciples of Buddha. The word rakan means ‘the worthy’ and is the highest title given to practitioners of Zen Buddhism. Rakan are often depicted in Japanese art. You can see stone rakan like the ones above at temples throughout Japan; these are among the 1200 (!) found at Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple in Kyoto. It was founded in the mid-8th century but was destroyed (floods, civil war, typhoon) and rebuilt multiple times. These rakan were donated in 1981 to honor the temple’s restoration, most of which were carved by amateurs. Enjoy this peaceful walk through the temple grounds.
This is a short, sweet love letter about the joys of being read to.
The new digital game Tiny Bookshop won’t be out until spring 2024, but I’m excited about it now. It’s a narrative management game that invites you to ‘explore the picturesque coastal town of Bookstonbury-by-the Sea as you make a living selling used books out of your trailer and befriend the locals. Build your small business, discover wonderful locations, help out the locals, solve mysteries, and become a part of the town’s story.’ Plus, it’s super cute!
Do you ever have the feeling that you should know something, but you don’t yet know what it is? ‘The ancient Buddhist sources from India have a name for this experience—the I-will-come-to-know-what-is-unknown faculty (anannatannassamitindriya).’ In this lyrical essay, author Maria Heim writes about her new book Words for the Heart: A Treasury of Emotions from Classical India, a ‘treasury of words’ that collects 177 emotion-like terms from ancient and classical India. It includes words for the ‘torment of a tight spot’ and ‘rejoicing in others’ virtue’ and ‘the distinctive delight that flows from being free of regrets.’
The online magazine Autostraddle devoted a week to essays about American diners (and all they represent). ‘Legs sticking to pleather booths. Servers saying honey, hon, sweetie. Cups full of milkshakes or sodas, mugs full of strong coffee. Basket after basket of fries. Jukeboxes. Glass cases of pie, cakes. Feeling frozen in time, existing out of time. Home. Complicated feelings about home… From northern California in the 90s to a Montreal morning in 2015 to a Vermont mountaintop during the pandemic to a street in Chicago in 2009, Diner Week is a journey through time, space, previous selves, breakfast specials, forbidden fruit, cuts of meat, body parts, relationships, changes.’
Very important quiz: What’s Your Book Collecting Aesthetic?. I got ‘Dark Academic Antiquarian.’
Very beautiful — and quite large — Byzantine tile mosaics of 17 different animals were recently discovered underneath olive groves in a refuge camp in Gaza. ‘Never have mosaic floors of this finesse, this precision in the graphics and richness of the colors been discovered in the Gaza Strip.’ What a story!
The images from the 2022 Drone Photo Awards are amazing.
While we’re on the subject of amazing images… this is Elliðaey Island in Iceland. For more on this beautiful, lonely spot, we recommend The Island by Ragnar Jónasson. (You can hear me talk about it on the Iceland episode of our podcast.)
Gabrielle Zevin, the author of the run-away hit novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow talked to The Guardian about video games, writing, and the power of play. ‘…games are like hundreds of hours of practice for writing characters and figuring out how certain words work. You have to be incredibly empathic with the person who designed the game to figure out what is going to make you win.’
Looking for a great historical novel for the fall? The longlist for the 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize is a good place to start.
Welp, this is the best idea ever:
The travel sketches and watercolors from artist Lucia Leyfield are very charming. Follow along on Instagram or the artist’s website where you can get tips for upgrading your own travel journal or try a class.
The Oldest Restaurant in Kabul: Where Tradition Trumps Rockets. ‘For over 70 years, Bacha Broot, located in the center of the Old City of Kabul, has been serving chainaki — savory lamb stew — despite Soviet occupation, civil war, and the Taliban.’
I must confess, I spent far too long playing with Google’s Talk to Books tool. You just ask the oracle and question in natural language, and it returns quotes from books to answer you. If you’re interested in the technical side, here’s more detail. See what happened when I asked, ‘What was that mysterious sound?’
I feel like you need to see this.
In each mini-podcast episode, we discuss two book releases at the top of our TBR, then share a fun book- or travel-related distraction. Get all the episodes and books galore here.
In this episode, we get excited about two new book releases: Duran Duran: Careless Memories by Denis O’Regan and The Slow Road to Tehran: A Revelatory Bike Ride Through Europe and the Middle East by Rebecca Lowe. Then Dave highlights three books he was excited to see honored with Hugo Awards for sci-fi. [transcript]
The Hugo Award winners we discussed: A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine; A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers; Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley; and Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders.
Watch 25 literary luminaries (Neil Gaiman, Robin Sloane, Felicia Day, Alan Cumming!) read the new translation of Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley.
We also mentioned the excellent memoir-writing guide On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
Top image courtesy of FunFlyingFour/Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2022 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.