Penguin Librarian's Den

"I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure." — Virginia Woolf

theparisreview:

“The shadow life. He saw it everywhere—it was a kind of second sight—but what use was it? He looked back at his passenger, her face anxious, turned away. Her window misted, a single cloud. What could she possibly see?”
Read Zadie Smith’s new story “Big Week,” available, for free, through the summer.
Photo via.

theparisreview:

“The shadow life. He saw it everywhere—it was a kind of second sight—but what use was it? He looked back at his passenger, her face anxious, turned away. Her window misted, a single cloud. What could she possibly see?”

Read Zadie Smith’s new story “Big Week,” available, for free, through the summer.

Photo via.

(via malapropsbookstore)

“The design of a book is the pattern of a reality controlled and shaped by the mind of a writer. This is completely understood about poetry or fiction, but it is too seldom realized about books of fact. And yet the impulse which drives a man to poetry will send another man to the tide pools and force him to try to report what he finds there.”

—   

John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts, Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research


Monday First Sentences | Every Monday, we offer the opening sentences of a Penguin Classic to start the week.

(via classicpenguin)

bookporn:

fer1972:

"Books are friends that never disappoint us" - Thomas Carlyle

Illustrations by Quint Buchholz

Great minds think alike. We too love Buchholz illustrations!

Enter the Librarian, a review by Josh Hanagarne

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

Today seems as good a day as any to declare it H.P. Lovecraft day. Doesn’t seem like anyone else is going to take charge. So then, here we are, in celebration of good old, maudlin, penniless, rail-thin, Howard Philip Lovecraft. I think the best thing we can do to pay tribute is to read The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories.

Now, if you can’t enjoy an old-fashioned tale of dread, replete with beaks and tentacles and mad Arabs and their unholy books, you might need to find another day to celebrate.

For those of you made of sterner stuff, let’s continue.

I started reading Lovecraft in seventh grade. Some of it was a tad baroque for me at the time, but I loved the mood he created. Everyone was always so nervous and sweaty! And with good reason, as you shall see.

If you need a quick crash course in H.P.’s work, here’s the least you need to know. He wrote scary stories—many would qualify as legitimate horror, some are more surrealist and dreamlike—about the world behind this one. Let me clarify. You see, the world as you know it is a farce. There are old gods, slimy eldritch beings, and they were here long before us. They live beyond the stars, on the bottom of the oceans, and they slumber in ancient Arctic ice palaces.

Pockets of deviant humans on earth occasionally try to reawaken them, usually through cultish behavior, including leaping and yowling and late-night bonfires. Why? Good question. Only know that it happens, reader. When people get too bored in The Cthulhu Mythos, they generally set their minds to bringing about the end of the world.

Cthulhu is generally held to be one of the biggest and baddest of the old, hidden gods. This is why his followers passionately chant things like, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” (Rest easy, these bits of dialogue are infrequent and ignorable, in addition to being unpronounceable).

Many of the stories are about hysterical academics opening books of forbidden knowledge, knowing full well that they shouldn’t. Or journalists driving to small towns to investigate hideous rumors of untold atrocities. Oh, and people are often driven to commit feats of meticulous genealogical research, only to discover that way back when, one of their relatives mated with a monster, or a white ape, and so on.

Nobody in these stories ever seems to think that they could opt out of their foul projects, but we readers benefit.

If you’re still not convinced, I’ll leave you with this: Many writers of horror have cited Lovecraft as one of their primary influences, if not the primary influence. Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King have raved about him. He was pals with Robert Bloch and Robert Howard. New anthologies written as tributes to him include contributors from Neil Gaiman (who wrote a humorous story in the voice of Cthulhu) to Poppy Z. Brite.

This collection is a fantastic introduction to Lovecraft’s work. You’ll meet a malevolent bit of matter from space, which quickly reduces a farmer’s crops (and sanity) to ashes. Rats scurry on the other side of walls, just out of reach. Cthulhu lurks in his underwater in the South Pacific, just waiting for some intrepid explorers to stir him up. There are fish gods and indifferent demons and unholy rites being enacted beneath the reefs off of coastal New England villages.

At this point, if I’ve done my job, you’re well aware of whether you have any interest in H.P. Lovecraft. If any of this sounds intriguing, try this collection. Don’t be afraid to skip around to find a story you like. Lovecraft could be inconsistent, but this book has several of his best. 

catshatereading:

Ernest hates Summertime, All the Cats are Bored by Philippe Georget.
(submitted by kalenski)

catshatereading:

Ernest hates Summertime, All the Cats are Bored by Philippe Georget.

(submitted by kalenski)

theparisreview:

On Virginia Woolf’s conception of privacy: “Many people accept the idea that each of us has a certain resolute innerness … What interested Woolf was the way that we become aware of that innerness. We come to know it best, she thought, when we’re forced, at moments of exposure, to shield it against the outside world.”
For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.

theparisreview:

On Virginia Woolf’s conception of privacy: “Many people accept the idea that each of us has a certain resolute innerness … What interested Woolf was the way that we become aware of that innerness. We come to know it best, she thought, when we’re forced, at moments of exposure, to shield it against the outside world.”

For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.

teachingliteracy:

shanemaxwell:

I found this copy of Thoreau’s Walden buried in the park.  I opened it and saw these roots growing between the pages. I don’t know whether to frame it or put it back in the ground.

classicpenguin:

Cecil Lewis (pictured top left as a young man, and below at age 93) was an extraordinary figure. Not only did he have a remarkable career as a pilot in WWI (an experience detailed in his memoir, Sagittarius Rising), he also went on to train pilots around the world, win an Oscar for his screenplay of Pygmalion, and co-found the BBC.

In 1991, the BBC featured Lewis on their Desert Island series, in which he discusses his incredible life as an author and adventurer, and of course, what gramophone records he would bring to a desert island. Click here to listen to this ineffably charming recording and you’ll understand why after listening to this, we had no choice but to reissue his memoir.

bookavore:

libraryreads:

Hot off the press, the Library Reads August 2014 list! 

We’ve got the first in a new series from library fav Chelsea Cain. Lev Grossman wraps up the adventures of Magician’s trilogy. A BEA Buzz book: The Miniaturist

New books from staff and patron favorites Amy Bloom, Liane Moriarty, John Scalzi, and Thirty Umrigar. Everyone’s favorite mother and son writing team bring us latest historical mystery in An Unwilling Accomplice

And a little something, something for the romance readers from Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Katie MacAlister.  

Happy reading!

I keep meaning to blog about The Magician’s Land, so I will take this opportunity to say that I loved it—very satisfying ending to the trilogy—but I really wish I had re-read the first two before diving into it. So if you’re waiting for it, take this opportunity to re-read The Magicians and The Magician King to immerse yourself properly.

I remain impressed by what Grossman managed to do with these books: be utterly skeptical about magic and its importance while maintaining a childlike adoration of it. I always get such a rush reading these books, because the combination allows me to re-visit my first experiences of Philip Pullman, Susan Cooper, Garth Nix, et al., in a way that most other fantasy books do not. That headlong and greedy reading experience, those books that are so good you forget to change positions and your arm falls asleep—I always feel that Grossman misses it as much as I do, and it’s a treat to read a book that reflects being that affected by fantasy writing, and even manages the same trick a few times.