Got an unopened copy of Finnegan’s Wake or Infinite Jest wedged shamefully in the back of your bookcase? Take heart regarding your literary duplicity with this list from the BBC of the top twenty books people lie about having read (20% of which are by Charles Dickens)—and then slap those unread tomes on your bedside table, because 60% of those surveyed said being (or at least seeming) well-read made a person appear more attractive.
And in China, where it isn’t so much a matter of the books you haven’t read as those you have (illegally): shoppers from the mainland have begun frequenting Hong Kong entrepreneur Paul Tang’s The People’s Bookstore to buy books published legally in Hong Kong but banned on the mainland, mostly those dealing with “high-level political intrigue, sex scandals and the like.” Tang intends to keep his store open despite the recent disappearance of five booksellers at the nearby Causeway Bay Bookstore, which also specializes in banned books.
Grenoble, France has found a unique way to fill those pesky snatches of time between doing something and doing something else: short-story vending machines.
In related fast-prose news, McDonald’s has begun its third annual initiative to promote childhood literacy: until February 15th, specially-sized children’s books will replace toys as the prize offered in Happy Meals. This (almost) makes up for the fact that McDonald’s has also recently introduced a kale salad with more fat and calories than a double Big Mac.
Memoirists Meredith Maran, Dani Shapiro, Ayelet Waldman, Kate Christensen and Nick Flynn explain why they chose nonfiction, as well as the best (and worst) parts of telling the truth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIPz625yVYI