1. This Sunday is the birthday of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, the English mathematician and writer whose most famous works include Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass, and The Hunting of the Snark. Such works featured Carroll’s specialty: coining blends and nonce words. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. Boojum
      The boojum is “a particularly dangerous variety of ‘snark,’” an imaginary creature of Carroll’s invention. The word boojum has inspired the naming of everything from “a species of tree… native to Baja California, Mexico” (found in 1922 by plant explorer Godfrey Sykes, who proclaimed, “It must be a boojum!”); to a supersonic cruise missile that “was determined to be too ambitious a project… and was canceled in 1951”; to “a geometric pattern sometimes observed on the surface of superfluid helium-3,” as named by physicist David Mermin in 1976.
      Example: But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day, / If your Snark be a Boojum!  For then / You will softly and suddenly vanish away, / And never be met with again!” — Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark, 1876
    2. Chortle
      To chortle means “to exclaim exultingly, with a noisy chuckle.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Carroll coined the word as a blend of chuckle and snort.
      Example: ”He chortled in his joy.” —Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, 1871
    3. Frabjous 
      Frabjous means “great, wonderful, fabulous,” and is a blend of either fabulous and joyous, or fair and joyous. “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” cries the narrator of The Jabberwocky upon learning that the Jabberwock has been slain.
      Example: “‘O frabjous day!’ rejoiced Emma Dean, using her bath towel as a scarf and performing a weird dance about the room.” — Jessie Graham Flower, Grace Harlowe’s Return to Overton Campus, 1915

  2. An al Qaeda-linked website has posted a call for the killing of Matthew Bissonnette, the retired Navy SEAL Team 6 member who wrote a book about his role in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. 

    Bissonnette wrote under a pseudonym, but was identified last week by Fox News. And the possibility that terrorists might come after him is just one of his worries when No Easy Day, his firsthand account of the raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout, hits shelves on Sept. 11. 

    Keep reading…


  3. Recommended viewing. All the way to the end.

    From This American Life’s website, Ira Glass writes: “In our recent cinema event, he talked about his illness and, for the last time in his life, danced onstage.”

    David Rakoff, an essayist, actor, and regular contributor to This American Life, died yesterday at the age of 47.



  5. I sometimes get up at night when I can’t sleep and walk down into my library and open one of my books and read a paragraph and say, ‘My God, did I write that?’

    Ray Bradbury, whom The New York Times calls ”the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream,” died Wednesday at age 91.

    Here, his most affecting quotes


  6. "Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.” 

    This week’s book of the week is 'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg. We highly recommend it. But one good book recommendation deserves another. Tell us what you’re reading for a chance to win a copy of Duhigg’s book. Tweet your #FridayReads to @TheWeek. We’ll share your recommendations!


  7. Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s biggest literary stars, Charles Dickens. The beloved British storyteller was the original literary celebrity and creator of more than two dozen works of fiction that have never gone out of print. His influence lives on in musicals, film, television, art, and literature. Here, a visual history of his life and enduring legacy.


  8. Did Jane Austen die of arsenic poisoning?

    Since at least the 1960s, historians and scholars studying Jane Austen’s life and work have been perplexed: What could have prematurely killed the English novelist at age 41? The Pride and Prejudice author’s death over 200 years ago has been blamed on everything from cancer to Addison’s disease. But now, crime novelist Lindsay Ashford presents new evidence suggesting that the likely culprit was arsenic poisoning, thanks to a series of clues unearthed in Austen’s hometown. “The alarm bells that sounded,” says Ashford, “were deafening.”


  9. Tony Hiss’ 6 favorite travel reads

    New Yorker staff writer Tony Hiss shared with us his top “travel” tales — books that have taken him everywhere from Greece to a dystopian future. Hiss is the author of 13 books, his most recent titled In Motion: The Experience of Travel. So, if you’re looking for a good read, here are a few suggestions from a guy who knows a thing or two about good reads:

    Adventures in Afghanistan by Louis Palmer (Octagon, $19). Alternately hair-raising and awe-inspiring. Palmer, traveling in the years just after Soviet occupation, is led to thriving (and most of us would say unlikely) modern-day Arabian Nights communities still tucked away throughout Afghanistan. A book that makes you think deeply about the endurance of human values.

    Roumeli by Patrick Leigh Fermor (NYRB Classics, $16). It’s impossible to create a list of great travel books without at least one by Fermor, the best of the best. Wherever life takes him, Fermor is the quintessential Deep Traveler, eagerly awaiting whatever will unfold during the day ahead. This book, set in northern Greece, is beautifully crafted, like all of Fermor’s books.

    The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (out of print). A nonstop 1956 science-fiction classic so crowded with invention and insight it seems sparkling and brand-new. Among its marvels: an extended meditation on travel—in Bester’s dystopia, everyone can “jaunte” (teleport without machinery), and only very rich show-offs still drive or bike through the countryside.

    Read the full list here.


  10. rickboven:

    Do you want to know what it’s like to not leave the house all day to finish your script?

    Since it’s still technically Tumblr Tuesday, we’d like to recommend our friend Rick Boven. He’s a Chicago-based author, artist and filmmaker and he’s new to the Tumblr world, so show him some love. Also check out his partner in crime, Nick Vandermolen. Together, these two pioneered a new publishing company called Nan bu Nan. And they’re funny.


  11. Friday Book Recommendations!

    Pat Conroy, beloved author of Prince of Tides, has written an new book entitled My Reading Life, which recounts his lifelong passion for the written word.

    He’s also given THE WEEK a list of his favorite books, which include the following:

    The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner, $20). In an endangered land of dwarves and elves and wizards, I listened to the story of creation and the unseen world told once more by a writer with supernatural, unsurpassable gifts. I let the story possess me, take me prisoner, feed me with the endless abundance of its honeycombed depths.

    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Scribner, $18). Gone With the Wind shaped the South I grew up in more than any other book. Few white Southerners, even today, can read this book without conjuring up a complex, tortured dreamscape of the South. To Southerners like my mother, Gone With the Wind was not just a book; it was an answer, a clenched fist raised to the North, an anthem of defiance.

    Here are the rest of Conroy’s faves