Cultural Olympiad

aMAZEme: A Labyrinth Made from 250,000 Books from Christopher Jobson on Vimeo.

Inspired by the fingerprint of Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges, this installation was created by Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo. Built for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad,the Brazilian artists were helped by over 200 volunteers,the installation will be open to the public at the Southbank Centre in London until August 26.

Never Mind the Olympics

Abebooks discusses novels set in London.

A Different Kind – Pop-up Book

I have a cat that permanently tries to sit on my keyboard whenever I have left it for a short moment. If I’m reading she also does this and isn’t in a hurry to remove herself. Now which page was I trying to read?

Now that’s extreme…

How to get away from things and find a spot for a little reading.

More photos here photos by art_inthecity

Another good website: The Space

To see complete recordings of events such as the 50th anniversary performance of Britten’s War Requiem in Coventry Cathedral, King Lear at the Globe spoken in Belarussian, readings of poetry by Roger McGough and short films made for the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad, visit:

Reading World

A few more novel sites sent in by our readers. Beautiful antiquarian website, sitting comfortably with a book or two, and another unique library!.

Something to look forward to….

Moorland fires and age-old dead bodies in the Peak National Park bring DI Diane Fry and DS Ben Cooper together again, in Dead and Buried due to be published June 21,(2012)and The Devil’s Edge (2011), will be out in paperback June 7,2012.

We’ll have to wait a little longer for Peter Robinson’s new title Watching the Dark (due Aug,2012) and the return of DCI Banks investigating the cross bow murder of DI Bill Reid.

Frances Brody who has been nominated for the Dagger in the Library long list has written a series set in 1920′s Yorkshire. Kate Shackleton, a First World War widow turns sleuth in Dying in the Wool(2009), A Medal for Murder(2010), Murder in the Afternoon(2011)all available in paperback and A Woman Unknown (06 September 2012,hardback)

No waiting for Elly Griffiths and her fourth in the series of forensic anthropologist Ruth Galloway, available in paperback April,2012, A Room Full of Bones.

Fourth in the Shaw and Valentine series by Jim Kelly, Death’s Door(due May,2012,hardback), joins Death Wore White(2009), Death Watch(2010), Death Toll(2011)

Simon Beckett’s The Calling of the Grave in paperback Feb 2012, finds Hunter still haunted by his personal tragedy, tracking escaped prisoner Jerome Monk on Dartmoor. Hunter realises that he can’t trust anyone as his past makes an unwelcome return.

Further uses for an old Book

Moving on from bookcarving sculptures and floor dominoes, Spanish installation artist Alicia Martin has found a different way to transform old books:

Martin’s most recent series, known as Biografies, are based in her hometown, Madrid.
These gravity-defying book sculptures from her Biografies series were installed in…. three of Madrid’s historic buildings, each installation consisting of approximately 5,000 books.
To support the heavy weight of the books, each sculpture has a special metal framework inside. They make the installation safe and sturdy, however the books’ pages are left loose and free to rustle in the wind.

To see more, click here

The Ancient Roman way of life

Mary Beard’s excellent series on BBC2 is casting a lot of light on everyday life in Ancient Rome which means that future readings of Lindsey Davis, Steven Saylor et al. will be even more enjoyable and enlightened, although you now begin to wonder how the well-bred Helena Justina could have managed in Falco’s little top-floor apartment?

I was absorbing the familiar experience of the ramshackle apartment block: for five floors angry voices reached me from behind curtains and half-doors. Two apartments per storey; two or three rooms per apartment; two and a half families per dwelling and as many as five or six people to a room. Sometimes there were fewer occupants, but they ran a business, like the mirror-polisher and the tailor. Sometimes one room contained an old lady who had been the original tenant, now almost forgotten amidst the rumbustious invaders to whom Smaractus had sublet parts of her home ‘to help her with the rent’. He was a professional landlord. Nothing he did was to help anybody but himself.

I noticed a few more graffiti gladiators chalked on the poorly rendered walls. There was a smell like wet dog mingling with yesterday’s steamed cabbage. (Lindsey Davis Time to Depart)

(Photo above, Low-rise apartment block or insula in Ostia, the ancient port of Rome – insulae in Rome could be several stories high, facing each other across extremely narrow streets)


Read Mary Beard’s blog about the series, plus the enthusiastic comments and learned contributions of viewers, on the BBC website.

Rereading: Le Grand Meaulnes

Back in the mists of time, when A-Level French students were required to study set texts of French literature, one of the most popular was Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes. Last weekend a long and very enjoyable article by Julian Barnes discussed the reasons for the popularity of the book, its literary debts and influences ( I had never spotted the possibility that Scott Fitzgerald was referring to it when he wrote The Great Gatsby) and the difficulty translators have with the title – the most recent Penguin translation opts for The Lost Estate which is suitably ambiguous and enigmatic.