TalkClub Read 2022

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Dec 17, 2021, 3:54pm

Here's the place to put any interesting literary articles you come across. Don't hold back -- if it interested you, it will probably be something a few people here would love to see.

Jan 4, 12:00am

>1 RidgewayGirl: Wouldn't it be nice to have this thread "pinned" at the top, like last year, or was that deliberate abandoned?

Jan 4, 12:04am

Why Penguin Classics are going Green

A new series from Penguin Classics places 75 years of writing about the environment in the canon at a time when it couldn’t be more crucial. Here’s how it came to be.

Last year I read about this on the thread on one of the members of CR 2021. It was followed by as short exchange about the pros and cons.

Jan 4, 7:33am

I went ahead and pinned this topic, Edwin. Also note, that I am creating a list of theme threads in the group description (you may need to click "see more" to see the full list). Thanks for posting here and for starting the Greenhouse!

Jan 4, 7:41am

>4 labfs39: Thanks.

Jan 12, 8:32pm

A series based on Octavia Butler's sci-fi novel Kindred is coming to FX

Jan 12, 8:39pm

Joelle Taylor wins TS Eliot poetry prize for ‘blazing’ C+nto & Othered Poems

Jan 13, 2:19pm

Is there anything more tantalizing than a good list of books coming out this year?

Jan 13, 8:36pm

Jan 20, 12:29am

And the original link to CBC's web page for Canada Reads:

Here is the Canada Reads 2022 longlist

Feb 2, 8:50am

Not sure if this counts as an article, per se, since it's actually a recorded interview, but I attended a virtual talk with horror author Richard Dansky over the weekend which is now available on youtube, and I thought some of you may be interested.

Dansky writes Jewish horror, including stories about sea monsters starring a pirate rabbi who talks to an angel. I'd never encountered any specifically Jewish horror before, and I found the discussion very interesting.

Feb 4, 9:26am

An interesting article from Tor about reading goals:

Maybe Reading Goals are Good, Actually by Molly Templeton

Feb 4, 10:17am

>12 Julie_in_the_Library: I liked that article, Julie, thank you for sharing. I am usually a panster (fly by the seat of my pants) writer and a free-range reader, but this January I decided to try and direct my reading by joining the Asian Book Challenge, Indian Ocean theme read, graphic novels thread, and Holocaust Literature group. Wow! That's a lot! Note that I have not committed to how many books I will read, only that I will keep these in mind as I'm choosing books, but, lo and behold, these goals did increase the number of books I read in January, by a lot (3x more than last year). And most importantly I feel good about the books I have read and enjoyed them all. So, for me, for now, trading in my "read more international literature" goal for these directed reading goals has been a success.

Feb 4, 10:41am

>12 Julie_in_the_Library: I find the modern preoccupation of carrying more about who (and what) the writer is than about the story to be a bit bizarre. The article assumes that one would gasp and get upset when they realize what kinds of authors they actually read which may be true for some people but not necessarily so. I know - it is all about representation and trying to fix the wrongs of the past but... at what point does the needle swing so far to the other side and the situation becomes a mirror of the past? I've seen people claim that they will never read a white straight man's work anymore (not here... I don't think so) and I do wonder how is that different from saying that for any other group.

Interesting article though but it made me wonder about things (before having had enough coffee even) :)

Edited: Feb 5, 2:42pm

>13 labfs39: I always thought that I was a planner, or at the very least a "plantser," but I think I want to try pantsing, or something close to it, this November. I'm a mood reader, and I can't really plan my reading, so I'm wondering if maybe it will turn out that I'll really like pantsing for writing in correlation. Plus, I really struggled with NaNo this November, so it's worth a try to change it up.

I am trying to have goals related not to reading specific books, authors, or numbers of books, but more general goals as discussed in the article (more from my TBR instead of ignoring it entirely and just browsing, for instance). So far, that's been a success for me as well.

>14 AnnieMod: I find the modern preoccupation of carrying more about who (and what) the writer is than about the story to be a bit bizarre...

This is actually the result of two related but distinct things, in my opinion:

The first part is the desire to read a diverse range of authors.

Many readers feel that reading only one perspective, or mostly/overwhelmingly one perspective, - especially when it's the hegemonic perspective already bombarding us from all sides - is limiting. Many readers *want* the type of broad perspective on the world that comes of reading authors from a broader range of backgrounds.

It's about wanting a window into experiences and perspectives other than your own, and to stories shaped by those experiences and perspectives. And it's about not wanting to limit your yourself to only encountering stories shaped by worldviews and experiences similar or at least compatible with your own.

It is not, on any level, about thinking that white (male, christian) experiences or perspectives have no value, or should all be gotten rid of. At the very most, it's about the idea that perhaps they should be given slightly less primacy above literally everybody else than they have been historically, and still are right now in large part.

That's a value that a lot of readers hold.

The second part is the emerging understanding that because of the society we live in, (its history, its structures, etc,) if you don't make a deliberate point of reading authors who are not white (christian, men, etc) you could end up reading entirely or almost entirely white (christian, male, etc) authors without meaning to or indeed even noticing.

These two factors together lead to an increased emphasis on authors' identities.

The article assumes that one would gasp and get upset when they realize what kinds of authors they actually read which may be true for some people but not necessarily so.

The assumption here is built on the two ideas I discussed above, plus the third idea that without a zoomed out view, you may not notice patterns in your reading that do or do not line up with goals you have in mind.

I don't think any of these assumptions are out of line or unreasonable for a Tor article to be making.

Before I get to this last part, I want to say that this is not an accusation, or in any way personal. What follows is not aimed at anyone in particular, or written in anger..

But I feel the need to address these points, because they're actually pretty common beliefs, and they need dispelling on a general level.

So everything that follows is addressed to the world in general, though I do use quotes from a specific post in this thread, and with no animus or anger intended.

I know - it is all about representation and trying to fix the wrongs of the past but...

Reading authors of minority demographics is not about righting the wrongs of the past. Nothing can right the wrongs of the past. That can't actually be done. The wrongs have been committed, and there's no un-committing them now, no matter what happens going forward.

What we can do is learn to understand the wrongs of the past, how they continue to affect us all today, and work towards making a better country and a better world where those wrongs are not repeated.

at what point does the needle swing so far to the other side and the situation becomes a mirror of the past? I've seen people claim that they will never read a white straight man's work anymore (not here... I don't think so)

Never. The answer is never.

I agree that choosing to never read a white male author ever again is an extreme over-reaction, not to mention unproductive and entirely beside the point.

But individuals making that choice, nonsensical though it may be, is not, and fundamentally cannot be, a "mirror of the past."

The personal reading choices of individuals - even a loud group of individuals - is not, on any level, the same as, comparable to, or a mirror of the discrimination, violence, and bigotry, faced by minorities (racial, ethnic, religious, or otherwise) in the past or in the present.

No matter how many individuals make that choice, it does not come along with structural, societal, and/or legal discrimination, or violence. The harms caused - even assuming that personal reading choices like this cause any harm to people other than those making them - cannot be compared.

It's happening on an individual, rather than on a societal, structural, and/or legal level. No one is banning all books by white men, or removing them in their entirety from libraries or curricula or anywhere else.

A reader who chooses not to read a book by a white man ever again does not - could not - shut themself off from the white male Christian perspective, nor could anyone else who follows their lead. It's everywhere - TV, news, movies, politics, podcasts, billboards, advertising, and that's just a few off the top of my head - and there's no getting away from it, no matter what you do or do not read. (Choosing not to read anything by a white man ever again may shut you off from specific perspectives, but not from the white male Christian perspective generally).

And, finally, no matter how many individuals make the choice never to read a book by a white man again, it will never shrink their audience to the point where there's a society level effect, or even to the point where there's a chilling effect on white men writing books or their ability to make a living. (Changes in the publishing world have had that effect on authors of all demographics, but that's a different conversation.)

Choosing never to read another white (Christian, male, etc) author is silly. It may harm the person making that choice by limiting their reading and keeping them from books that might have been important or joyful or any number of other things for them. And as a corrective for past or future injustice it does absolutely nothing at all.

But it cannot be compared to the past (and present) injustices perpetrated on people who are not white (Christian, men) in the "western world." Full stop.

I do wonder how is that different from saying that for any other group.

Context matters. These things are not the same.

Feb 5, 5:07pm

Maybe there needs to be an ongoing thread to discuss how people make reading choices based on something other than what they like. Seems to be a topic that some people are very invested in.

Feb 5, 5:50pm

>17 nohrt4me2:

I don't see that choosing "what one likes" is necessarily in conflict with any other criteria (except, of course, "what one hates"). One can like mysteries or travelogues or histories or whatever and in addition want a broad representation among authors. Or pick a certain time-frame over another one, etc. (>15 nohrt4me2: was very funny. It's funny bc it's true. :))

>14 AnnieMod:

That wasn't even the point of the article, no? (Not that there's a problem with tangents, just that it may obscure the main subject.) She wrote about having ANY kind of "reading plan", and the "fewer white male authors" came up just as an example of a general goal... a rather typical one, by now.

Feb 14, 3:38am

Posting this as I know a lot of Club Read-ers have read An African in Greenland - interesting to see what happened next.

Feb 14, 8:38am

>19 wandering_star: I haven't read the book but it's on my list, largely because of what folks here have said. And that was a great article. Talk about following your own star...

Feb 14, 10:40am

>19 wandering_star: Years ago, and memories are vague. Now I want to read it again. Thanks.

Feb 14, 1:44pm

>19 wandering_star: Interesting. I did not know the story. I hope he has the opportunity to write his second book.

Feb 14, 5:31pm

>19 wandering_star: A reprint of his book is being issued this year and I hope it reaches many new readers.

>16 Julie_in_the_Library: That was gorgeously expressed.

Feb 19, 2:21pm

>19 wandering_star: Thanks for that! I read the book a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I remember my impression at the time was that the guy was a little nuts in a strangely beautiful way, and it sort of seems like he still is. :)

Feb 25, 5:37pm

“February. Get the ink and weep.” Contemporary Poetry From Ukraine
Three Poems by Iya Kiva, Translated by Amelia Glaser and Yuliya Ilchuk

By Literary Hub
February 25, 2022

Feb 25, 7:19pm

Thanks for the link Diane.

Feb 25, 9:41pm

Weep indeed.

Edited: Mar 1, 3:02pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Mar 1, 3:03pm

On the Ukrainian Poets Who Lived and Died Under Soviet Suppression

Mar 2, 8:05am

This article in The Forward about Dara Horn's reaction to the public reception and reaction to her newest book People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present is really interesting.

Mar 2, 11:40am

>30 dianeham:

Thanks, the quoted poetry was great.

A side issue: Putin's noises about the USSR ought to be taken with exactly the same trust as anything else he says, and only in constant comparison with what he does. It's clear that it's not only Putin and his ilk who are forgetting that the USSR was a society organised to certain communist principles, justified to its members on the basis of a certain ethics of universal human solidarity.

Is that the USSR Putin supposedly wants back? His yacht(s) no less than his war screams "NO"--or if not, we're dealing with, as Marx accurately noted, that second, farcical replay of history.

Mar 9, 5:24am

For all my fellow armchair polar explorers:

Shackleton's Endurance has been found.

Mar 9, 10:52am

That is so amazing. I'll have to share that with my book group; we read Alfred Lansing's Endurance back in 2018.

Mar 9, 11:59am

>33 ursula: Wow, that is incredible.

Mar 9, 2:25pm

>33 ursula: Thanks for sharing this - what a find!

Mar 10, 7:23am

>33 ursula: I can't believe how well preserved it is!

Mar 10, 12:23pm

>38 Julie_in_the_Library: I am in the process of listening through a multi-voice reading of this translation ( so you can add the varied skills of the readers to the varied impact of the translation (impressively reader 1, drag queen Miz Cracker, seems like she has studied Anglo-Saxon so she starts off with a bit of the original)

Mar 15, 1:41pm
I vaguely remember The House of Dies Drear from when I was a kid, but I aged out of YA soon after its publication. Some people here read YA, and really these look more interesting to me now.

Mar 26, 2:38pm

For those of you who have opinions on cover art, John Self has a twitter thread of what he calls "bookalikes," books with similar cover art.

Apr 5, 8:47pm

>43 qebo: Thanks for that. Interesting.

Apr 8, 10:38am


what would Cicero have said? (he of the all you need is a library and a garden comment I think).

And what about the person that suggested you can only get 20 books for £1000 - hmmm -- maybe i should offer my services to get more bang for your buck people.

Apr 8, 12:41pm

>45 tonikat: Oh my. I can't imagine. Or I guess I can, because when the realtor invited a stager to my house prior to my putting it on the market, she asked me to remove hundreds of books to make room for baskets, etc. and to remove almost all history. She was especially appalled to see books like The Rape of Nanking. Then I had to organize them by color....

Edited: Apr 8, 12:48pm

>46 labfs39: :O words fail (like obvs with some people)

I did wonder if I could specialise in progressive or radical books . . . but then I like to think that people wanting them may have actually read a few.

I mean I'd be embarassed eveb if someone else was buying for me, never mind if then I had shelves I couldn't talk about ad infinitum (as we know -- and including the ones I've not read yet as to why I have them for inst.) -- and the joy of empty shelves was filling them bit by bit.

But good to know I may be somewhat on zoom fashion - just sadly not colour coordinated or very feng shui about them . . . just the other day I wondered if my over full book case was crying for more shelves.

Apr 8, 2:18pm

>45 tonikat: I guess, on the bright side, random bookstores are given modest boosts in sales? Personally, I'm confident that I could manage to buy 400 books at one time, given a good-sized bookstore and someone else to carry them out.

>46 labfs39: I ended up boxing up 2/3 of my books and, yes, doing things like arranging a stack of three art books alone on a shelf or a few books arranged with a plant on another. It did, I will admit, look nice, but not as nice as shelves full of books.

Apr 8, 3:49pm

>45 tonikat: The 20 books for £1000 comment was specifically in reference to high-end coffee table type books. So almost certainly oversized, with glossy paper (or other fancy treatments) and the like. You go buying those new and you'd easily spend around £50 per book.

Apr 8, 5:26pm

>49 shadrach_anki: this is true but I wasn't feeling forgiving - and i) go to a second hand shop and ii) why fill shelves with coffee table books when you must have plenty of coffee tables to show them off properly?

>48 RidgewayGirl: Maybe, that would be a good thing. And I'm being a bit bad reacting. I could buy 400 books too, I'd be happy too, if I had the shelf space and the bank account. Would I buy 400 books to hide that I don't have any and appear that I do? But I also feel bad anyone might feel the need to.

Apr 8, 5:29pm

>50 tonikat: "why fill shelves with coffee table books when you must have plenty of coffee tables to show them off properly?"

Because you like them? Because you like looking through them? Because they look very nice on the bookshelves? Because you like art and this is the best format for books with reproductions? Pick any that apply.

Edited: Apr 8, 5:38pm

>51 AnnieMod: but that is not why people are buying them in this article -- they are buying them literally to fill shelves that they otherwise don't want to be seen to be bare. (and for £1000 I bet they could fill them double banked with second hand books and look like they may have read them.)

Overall though I have been reminded that if you are goign to share an opinion it is a good idea to keep in practice with doing so. So I'lll just go back to keeping mine to my thread. It's invioted me to judge and I have a bit, bad bad abd person entrapped by the way the social world so often works. Fill your houses with whatever (as long as it hurts no one) and let us all feel lucky, until the climate decides it has had enough of us.

Apr 8, 5:46pm

and maybe if you're a celeb it is not easy to go and hang out in bookshops onm account of how everyone suddenly thinks they are in Notting Hill, so get peopel to buy em in and hey spend some time reading, perusing beautiful coffee table books.

oh I also note that my zany jokey tone of voice doesn't always transmit. the coffee table comment was meant in that way and now I'm into having to defend it.

Apr 8, 6:09pm

>52 tonikat: But then what is the point of having or not coffee tables to display them - they buy them to go on shelves? :) And they DO look nice on shelves - if all you care about is how they look anyway.

That whole thing reminded me of an ad I saw on FB the other day which was advertising books covering "for when you have no time to go buy new books and you are tired of looking at the old ones". I was staring at that thing for far longer than I should have and thinking "But... that's not how books work..." :) But then apparently for a lot of people books ARE decoration.

Apr 8, 6:18pm

I'm sorry but i give up - it was just kind of a joke, not meant that seriously at all. But I better they look better on a coffee table than tea table, though I've seen many people excel at piles of them on desks and low rectangular tables with glass tops in the middle of a room, or sometimes a sideboard. now i give up.

Edited: Apr 8, 6:40pm

I have had a glass of wine and my sarcasm chip seems to have engaged itself . . . I am so sorry and it is not meant personally Annie. I have also often admired glossy magazine images of all sorts with shelves stocked with just the right art books in the backdrop.

But in other thoughts, i am wodnering if the coffee table book predicament is not a bit like the keeping of wild animals in confined spaces, let them free, they evolved for coffee tables, all else is not cricket. (speaking as someone that has a few chained at home in a dungeon aka an ill thought through presentation-wise book shelf, hiding their glory amongst books without pictures or nice papers and covers -- maybe in shame at the fact i have no coffee tables at all, only small side tables a big desk lots of shelves and a dining table).

remember a coffee table book is not just for christmas.

Apr 8, 6:45pm

>56 tonikat: Nah, figured that we are crossing lines somewhere north of what we mean so decided to share about the ad I saw while I was here anyway. :)

On the topic of coffee table books and coffee tables - I wonder how these books are called in other languages. They don't have a special name in Bulgarian...

PS: My presentation/art books live mostly in boxes or on the top of bookcases - they just take too much space otherwise. :)

Apr 8, 6:56pm

>57 AnnieMod: good

I was thinking in a sober way that i was coming more from the point of view of people buying books to appear to be readers for zoom, and less from the angle of people buying them for decoration as you say. But to a great extent I was also just struck by the silliness of being a person.

As for shelves, and I know people write about this, but i often have the feelign the ideas of books on shelves kind of transmit into rooms and minds - and so even if they don't read them they may get a benefit. Though that may also be a reason to take care in what you get.

Yes they do take space, that i know.

I think we've covered somewhere before the people for whom decoration rests in books with spines reversed. It takes all sorts. Maybe one day one of them will decide the spines need to be reversed, but also the paper edges need a paint job. Having said that, I am thinking someone is probably ahead of me on that.

Apr 8, 7:38pm

There are books that have a picture on the fore-edges of the book - either when you look at them straight or when you fan them - I had one of these in my European library before I moved. You can see some examples here: :) They are gorgeous.

I was so impressed by painted edges (just painted in red or yellow or black, nothing like the ones above) when I first saw them back in high school (a donation of US books to the school) - I've never seen any painted edges before - top or fore- or bottom ones on Bulgarian and Russian books (the only books I had seen before that - which does not mean they did not exist - just not in my parents' or the city library children/YA section)...

PS: That ad I mentioned above: So this is the link that was advertised:

First sentence in the FB ad: "Your old books are gathering dust on the shelf, and you don't have the time or money to buy new ones."

Shaking head.

Apr 9, 12:39am

>45 tonikat:

Strand Books Books By the Foot

One of my own fondest experiences was receiving a $30,000 grant (in the '80s) to create a French language library collection to support my school's new French Immersion programme. The last $1,000 or so was actually very difficult to spend. I couldn't find any more age-appropriate material, and it had been made clear to me that the whole grant had to be spent by deadline so that future grants to other schools would be at least as much.

Apr 9, 7:03am

>60 librorumamans: a different kettle of fish, but a nice one, angel fish?

Apr 9, 8:35am

I bet Strand's books by the foot services are used as often for TV/Commercial/Film/Theater sets as they are used by private individuals.

Apr 9, 9:17am

>62 ELiz_M: That would be an interesting project to write about—buy a couple of feet of Books by the Foot and then read them all, in order, and put up a running commentary.

Off topic but what a great cover on Lessons in Chemistry. The one I saw had this "women's fiction" cover that put me off the book, whereas I would run to buy this one.

Apr 9, 11:57am

>61 tonikat:
Angel fish indeed!

Apr 9, 12:04pm

les poissons angelique?

though knowing my french they probably say it otherwise.

Going back to painted pages, i have seen the illustrations on the edges, and a good thign they are -- i was thining of a bit of DIY with a roller . . . though maybe if you are the peopel doing this you may do it better than that . . . or maybe spray paint them?

Edited: Apr 9, 5:32pm

>65 tonikat: Less work is to simply have custom dust jackets in the appropriate color scheme made.

None of my large-format books are on the coffee table, where they would be in constant danger of being dinged or used as a coaster. But in this new house there are some built-in shelves where a few of the shelves are too close together for books to be stored upright, but perfect for stacks of three or four art books.

Apr 9, 12:48pm

>66 RidgewayGirl: ah no, i was meaning for those that reverse books on the shelf, deckled edges or non deckled edges facing out (people do).

this is all making me think of having a reorganisation.

Apr 10, 9:45pm

>54 AnnieMod: That's not how books work - indeed!

>62 ELiz_M: I just saw that book on Daunt Books' instagram feed and it looks very intriguing - are you enjoying it?

I came here to post this interview with Ali Smith which I thought was really interesting, particularly the second half where she talks a bit about what her inspirations/aims were for Autumn and How to be Both.

Apr 11, 7:19am

>68 wandering_star: sorry, I stole the picture from Litsy as an illustration of today's clever printing for book edges.

Apr 11, 6:22pm

It (Lessons in Chemistry) looks like fluff, but good fluff with some interesting twists - I put it on hold at the library. We'll see whether the description fits the story (as they so often don't!).

Apr 16, 2:06am

All this discussion of books as decoration reminded me of a YouTube video I stumbled across a while ago in which a guy ordered a stack of color-coordinated "decorative books" and then actually read them all. This amused me possibly more than it really should have, especially as he actually genuinely ended up loving one of them.

Apr 16, 11:30am

Dutch booksellers are noticing that young people are reading far more English-language books than they used to. Foreign language sales were up 50% in 2021 to around 1/6 of all books sold in the Netherlands. They put the change down partly to social media book-promotion channels and partly to Dutch writers not being able to keep up with the demand for fantasy and queer-perspective fiction. The bookseller and kids interviewed in the article also mention cover design and price as important points where English language publishers do better than Dutch ones. (article in Dutch)

Apr 16, 3:21pm

>72 thorold: Interesting. I would guess the price point and the keeping up is driven by the larger volume, both of writers of English and books published in English.

Apr 18, 4:19am

I had a horrible experience with decorative books once - we were eating in a restaurant attached to an inn - going for the cozy look. The walls were lined with books, old hardbacks. One caught my eye and I reached out to pull it down...and discovered that it was only half a book and glued into the wall! They'd actually chopped the books in half, parallel with the spine, so that they would fit "into" very shallow shelves. Wahhh! I wanted to read that!

Apr 18, 5:02am

>74 jjmcgaffey: Ouch! I suppose that's really just a modern version of the old "hidden library door" with fake books on it, like the famous one at Chatsworth.

Apr 20, 7:21pm

Yeahbut. Every wall was covered in these neat bookshelves - there must have been _thousands_ of books butchered for this. Sniffle. I hate book art - even if it's gorgeous (which this wasn't, just uselessly tempting). Unless it's something like an old dictionary/encyclopedia/textbook, that no one will read (though I've read some old textbooks with considerable pleasure...).

Apr 22, 11:13am

and elsewhere i saw a video this week of someone painting on the edge of a book, The Hobbit, and then they also put gold leaf on it -- when closed you see the gold, but when the edge is fanned the painting appeared, i have no idea how that worked as i watched without the sound on, and resisted posting it here as i thought maybe everyone would know already, a sort of video meme.

Apr 22, 6:04pm

>77 tonikat: As I recall, the audio in the video isn't giving any sort of explanation, it's just some of the music from the score to the Lord of the Rings movies. The whole process is called fore-edge painting. The book is clamped to fan the pages while the painting is being done, so the paint gets applied to a very thin portion of the page. The gilt is applied while the pages are straight and not fanned, so it is on the actual edge of the paper.

I've seen at least one example of a book with dual paintings on the fore-edge, so if you fanned the pages in one direction you got one image, but if you fanned them in the opposite direction you got a completely different image.

Apr 23, 7:50am

>78 shadrach_anki: wow, and thanks.

Edited: Apr 23, 11:07pm

I haven't read this article by Alberto Manguel yet (and it's too late to do so today), but I'm posting the link here because of the beauty of the illustrations:

Edited: May 11, 12:08am

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May 20, 9:19pm

This is cool, from Austin Kleon: A cluster map of books

He has a good take on things that aligns with a lot of how I see the world, creativity, reading, etc., and I love his graphic thinking.

Yesterday, 10:00am

>82 lisapeet: Interesting. I had never thought in terms of centripetal and centrifugal books before, but how true.