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Great Books, Horrible Reviews

You will definitely enjoy this article in the New York Times by Tina Jordan. It's called "Oops! Famously Scathing Reviews of Classic Books From the Times's Archive." They got a lot wrong, disliking even Catch-22 and Ulysses. Perhaps truly great books are so different, people can't understand them right away—it's as if the authors are writing for an audience years down the road. Although how anyone could not enjoy Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (the only woman author on the list) is hard to fathom. One hopes more women are being wrongly critiqued nowadays. Famously, all the critics hated this guy's works.

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About Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson wrote, “Why clasp any hand but this?”

In addition to wanting to "clasp Shakespeare's hand," Dickinson wrote, "Why is any other book needed?" Readers have felt that way for centuries. His plays are performed more than any other writer's. His sonnets set the standard for all poetry that came after. His writing has been translated into every major language and is taught in every school. "Wild-goose chase." "Green-eyed monster." "Love is blind." "Break the ice." Shakespeare coined them all. And many other expressions we use every day. There is a monument to him in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. But he lies buried in Stratford-upon-Avon, his bones protected by a curse from being disturbed. Shakespeare is, not surprisingly, one of our most popular stickers. It is made of...

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"The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World": Venice's Libreria Acqua Alto

I somehow found a paper bookmark publicizing this amazing independent bookstore in Venice. Because the city periodically floods, the books are kept in bathtubs or even boats (a gondola, in one photo I've come across). In the photo on the bookmark, the owner, whose name I believe is Luigi Frizzo, is wearing Wellington boots.  There are many beautiful bookstores in the world, especially in Italy, but this one is special without a doubt. I don't believe they have a website, but you can follow them on Facebook ((Libreria Aqua Alta) and Instagram (@libreriaacquaalta). Would I love to visit! 

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The BBC's Rebecca Laurence on Mary Shelley

An interesting article at bbc.com by Rebecca Laurence about how Mary Shelley's novel continues to shape culture some 200 years after it was published. Laurence notes that an anxiety about science and technology is as true today as in Shelley's day. After you read it, maybe you'll want to put a sticker of this incredibly influential writer on the window of your car. We have Shelley in B&W and color, for $5.95 each, shipping included. (Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was also incredibly influential--we have her, too.)

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