Links: Theory of mind and the novel, libraries, Patagonia, books versus natural resources, bisexual women in narrative, Seattle, and more

* Theory of Mind and The Importance of the Novel.

* Privatized libraries are working surprisingly well so far.

* Patagonia makes gear for demanding climbers and itinerant surfers. How’d it catch on with the rest of us? Short answer: people like me. Longer answer: see article.

* “Dear Science Fiction Writers: Stop Being So Pessimistic!: Neal Stephenson created the Hieroglyph Project to convince sci-fi writers to stop worrying and learn to love the future.”

* Pass the Books. Hold the Oil.

* Why Bisexual Women are TV’s Hot New Thing. (Maybe.)

* Apparently, you can’t be really French and Jewish.

* The Secret to Seattle’s Booming Downtown. See also Edward Glaeser’s The Triumph of the City.

* Let’s hope the MPAA ratings board dies; sample: “[. . .] while the MPAA board pretends to be a source of neutral and non-ideological advice to parents, it all too often reveals itself to be a velvet-glove censorship agency, seemingly devoted to reactionary and defensive cultural standards.”

Hedgehog in the Blog

My friend Elena just started Hedgehog in the Blog, with an early post about libraries. So far it looks good, except for the tiny font. This is partially the fault of WordPress, which seems enamored of very attractive, modernist designs that are hard to read (I’m guilty of the same sin, but not to the same degree).

I like Elena’s explanation of the blog’s name:

I named this blog after the 1975 Soviet animated film Hedgehog in the Fog. In it a little hedgehog on his way to bear cub’s house, where the two get together to drink warm tea and eat raspberry jam, finds himself in a thick fog. He encounters frightening creatures, but also helpful and kind ones amidst silence, darkness, and enchanting stars. He is frightened, but his curiosity keeps him exploring the unknown.

June links: libraries edition

* Bowker says that “276,649 new titles and editions” appeared in the U.S. in 2007, up slightly from the year before. So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, anyone? (Note: I haven’t actually read Gabriel Zaid’s book yet). And where’s the space for mine? Perhaps being taken up by Tolkien reprints, leading to the next item…

* Nick Owchar reports on still more efforts to wring cash out of J.R.R. Tolkien. The good news, however, is that the publication of Tales from the Perilous Realm will “gather […] several of the master’s shorter works–“Farmer Giles of Ham,” “Leaf by Niggle,” “Smith of Wootton Major” and “Roverandom”–as well as a book of poems, “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.”” In other words, this will make it far easier for those of us who study Tolkien and avoid perhaps the foul smell of Children of Húrin.

* My dream, achieved by someone else. He has 30,000, and I only 260 – 270. It’s not the size, but how you use it, right?

(Hat tip ALN.)

* More personal library reflections from the Wall Street Journal:

I still possess a great many books. I’m not a book collector, though, not at all — and much less a bibliophile. The discreet charms of the first edition have always eluded me, although I can appreciate a nicely bound volume — as a consequence I own many second and third printings, which generally cost about 95% less. When I have a choice I go for interesting jackets, elegant typefaces, acid-free paper, but above all I prize compactness. Whenever possible I go for omnibus editions. The more books can fit in a single volume, the happier I am. And I mourn the passing of the pocket-sized paperback, which was once allowed to contain all sorts of material and is now strictly reserved for the kinds of books that inspire gold-embossed titles and peekaboo die-cuts. I like to carry books in my pockets, and trade paperbacks are an awkward fit, except in the dead of winter.

Anyway, I like the entire variety of books: thin little plaquettes, 16-volume histories, drugstore potboilers, privately printed crank pamphlets, ancient volumes in unknown languages, sleek new art editions with lots of white on the pages, forgotten doctoral dissertations from German universities in the 1880s, pornography bought by sailors in Tijuana, technical publications with wildly recondite diagrams… I remember a cartoon I saw as a child in which the books jumped off the shelves and had themselves a party in the bookstore in the middle of the night.

* XKCD strikes with this comic.

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