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11 Things We Read This Week: 11/11/2019
11 Nov 2019

11 Things We’re Reading This Week: 11/11/2019

A roundup of surprising, insightful and interesting stories from the Internet

By Courtney Suciu

  1. W.E.B. Dubois is remembered as an influential African-American activist and educator. His legacy includes a series of striking, colorful infographics depicting African American life after emancipation. See for yourself.
  2. Learn how working-class literacy and cheap printing costs gave birth to the wonderfully sordid, macabre and often subversive Victorian literary craze, the “penny dreadful.”
  3. Black-owned bookstores contributed to cultural “awakening” in the 1960s and served as hubs of African-American literature, history and heritage. In Kansas City, that bookstore was literally “The Hub.” Read about its history, and why these venues were targeted by the FBI.
  4. Is artificial intelligence getting better at language cognition, or only appearing to understand? This article explores what it means when machines beat humans at a reading test, and the extraordinary way our brains process language.
  5. On the topic of cognition, the discovery of jewelry made with eagle talons suggests that Neanderthals engaged in creative and symbolic activities long thought to be uniquely human. Check it out.
  6. The Gandhara Buddhist Scroll is an illuminating piece of early Buddhist literature, dating back to the first century A.D. Find out how conservation experts at the Library of Congress managed to work with such a fragile artifact (Hint: they practiced unrolling a desiccated cigar!)
  7. Speaking of delicate artifacts, archeologists have discovered the oldest copy of The Book of Two Ways – an ancient Egyptian guide to the underworld. It’s believed to be the first illustrated book in history. Learn more.
  8. Have you ever heard of Émilie du Châtelet?. Meet the “unladylike” 18th-century French socialite, physicist and mathematician who translated – and improved upon – Newton’s Principia, the foundation of modern physics.
  9. Take this quiz to find how much you know about the 13th century. (Confession: my score revealed I need to spend A LOT more time with Early English and Early European books…)
  10. There’s no shame if your reading list consists mostly of scandalous penny dreadfuls, but if you want to incorporate more non-fiction titles into your repertoire, here’s some advice to help you do so.
  11. The late Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Philip Roth left at least $2 million to the public library of his hometown, Newark, New Jersey – and they will probably need it to build a new wing since the novelist also left them his entire 7,000-book collection. Read more.

*Public domain images is from the Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood horror serial from 1845-1847.

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Courtney Suciu is ProQuest’s lead blog writer. Her loves include libraries, literacy and researching extraordinary stories related to the arts and humanities. She has a Master’s Degree in English literature and a background in teaching, journalism and marketing. Follow her @QuirkySuciu

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