The Weekly Reader: 20/06/13

Apologies for yesterday’s absence (assuming you noticed, of course). Thankfully, I am finally getting back into the swing of existence, helped in no small part by some serious literary indulgence. I have got some truly fantastic reads on the go at the moment and am really excited to share over the next couple of weeks. Before turning my face back to the pages, however, I wanted to stop in with a slightly delayed edition of The Weekly Reader. I hope it finds you well!
Top Stories
‘Librarians in Exile group launches appeal to save Timbuktu Manuscripts’ – The Guardian
If you recall my post about the Conservation Project at Wimpole Hall, you will know that I have a real interest in efforts directed at book preservation. Although much of my knowledge is restricted to the UK, I am fully aware that cultural conservation is an issue with which most, if not all, countries are concerned. A few months ago, I read an interesting article regarding destruction of cultural heritage in Mali (a consequence of the pervasive armed crisis that continues to plague the country). Since then I have made efforts to follow events and track the fate of the hundreds of thousands of ancient manuscripts to which Mali is home. This article is a great insight into the ongoing efforts to preserve Mali’s heritage, detailing the evacuation of 300,000 manuscripts (faced with destruction by Islamist rebels) from Timbuktu, by courageous librarians and archivists. It also addresses the ongoing Libraries in Exile campaign to raise $100,000 for the preservation of these precious documents. Damage through exposure to moisture means that this is an urgent appeal and, with Mali’s heritage representing some of the oldest and most comprehensive in the world, it is an issue with which we should all be familiar.
‘Iain Banks’ final novel The Quarry is published’ – BBC
What a sad couple of weeks it has been. We have lost some literary greats and, if you will allow me a brief non-literary aside, one of my favourite actors – the brilliant James Gandolfini. Amongst those we are currently mourning is Iain Banks. I will say up-front that I have tried, and failed, to get into Banks’s books, but I would still like to pay homage to the author enjoyed by readers worldwide. Undoubtedly a giant within the literary world, Banks was named one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 by The Times. His final book, The Quarry, was published just 11 days after his death and has shot to the top of the UK’s bestseller lists. It is always sad when a talent is lost prematurely, but Banks fans can at least rest in the knowledge that he leaves a vast legacy to be enjoyed.
‘When Book Graffiti Goes Bad’ – Book Riot
Easily in my top five ‘most detested habits’ (there is indeed a list) is the propensity to graffiti books. Nothing riles me quite like opening a library book and finding inane scrawl plaguing the inside covers or dotted in the margins. It is akin to the exam pencil-tapper – once my attention is grabbed by it, the inner coil tightens, and I can focus on nothing else. Book graffiti can ruin an otherwise joyful reading experience – read this article and I am sure you will, if you don’t already, agree. Keep your graffiti on the toilet walls, people. It doesn’t belong in books.*
*Disclaimer: I do not advocate graffiti in any form. Unless, of course, you are Banksy. In which case, please carry on.
Top Events
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: In Conversation with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’ Saturday 22 June – Foyles, London
As regular readers know, I am a huge fan of both Roald Dahl and Foyles bookshop. So you can imagine how excited I am about this upcoming event. Unfortunately (and predictably) work prevents me from being there, but I want to highlight it for any fellow Dahl obsessives. With the opening of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a West End Musical (group trip anyone?!), Foyles is playing host to the composer and lyricists of this fantastic creation. If you are in London on Saturday, the event is free but reservation is required.
‘Book Club with Zadie Smith’ Wednesday 17 July – Kings Place, London
The Guardian Book Club is running yet another fantastic event, in discussion with Zadie Smith about her latest book, NW. Zadie Smith is something of a groundbreaking author, and those familiar with her work are typically enthralled. Whatever you think of her books, Smith’s unique style makes her a fascinating author in discussion. 
‘Word for Word’ Until 2 July – Bryant Park, New York
Obviously, living just outside of London, my ‘Top Events’ tend to be quite capital-centric. Attempting to serve all of my readers, however, I am making efforts to diversify (if any of you have literary-related events that you would like for me to highlight, do send me an email). I recently had a tip-off regarding a fantastic series of events running at Bryant Park, NY. When I was living in NY, Bryant Park was one of my absolute favourite places – a small oasis of calm, seemingly unintimidated by the surrounding skyscrapers. Up until 2 July, Bryant Park is hosting poets and writers from around the globe in its Word for Word event series. Check the webpage for the daily schedule!
Top in Book Fetish
‘The Mole and Toad Ring’ – Theo Fennell
My childhood was one in which The Wind in the Willows served as an underlying and constant presence. To this day, I know the book almost by-heart, following many readings and a nightly playing of the cassette-bound audio version. I am utterly obsessed. When I came across this ring, there was inevitably a little bit of squealing. For the non-Wind in the Willows fanatics, I am sure that it looks like a bit of an eyesore. But I am completely in love. Sadly, the ‘price and availability on application’ side-note leads me to believe that this  item may be a little outside of my student budget.
‘Toad Hall Doormat’ – DamnGoodDoormats
Is it weird that I want this? Answer – yes. However, I remain unashamed. See above.
‘Harry Potter Parody Bestfriend iPhone Cases’ – icozycraft
Occupying a worryingly substantial amount of my time has been a search for a new mobile phone cover. My current iPhone case is severely bashed (or, to the normal eye, broken) but, displaying my favourite Jane Eyre quote, I have been reluctant to seek out a replacement. Unfortunately, my terrifically clumsy nature forces me to face reality, unless I would rather witness the demise of my phone. The search has turned out some truly worrying finds – not least a case proudly displaying the words ‘Keep Calm and Obey Mr. Grey’. Concerning. While I am still dithering over a number of cases (clearly it is a decision requiring careful thought), I am seriously considering these Harry Potter Parody cases. Unfortunately, they only come in a set of two. So if anyone is on the market for a Harry Potter case, let me know (the Ron Weasley one is MINE).

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