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Book News: Malala, Girl Shot By Taliban, Calls Books 'Weapons That Defeat Terrorism'

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban because she advocated for girls' education, helped open Europe's largest public library on Tuesday with a speech claiming that "pens and books are the weapons that defeat terrorism." The new library in Birmingham, England, where the 16-year-old is attending school, houses more than a million books and replaces a Brutalist building that Prince Charles once said resembled "a place where books are incinerated, not kept." Yousafzai, who was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, said in her speech, "I have challenged myself that I will read thousands of books, and I will empower myself with knowledge." She added, "I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through educating not only our minds, but our hearts and our souls."
  • The editor of The Paris Review, Lorin Stein, remembers his teacher, the poet John Hollander, who died last month: "To study with Hollander could be punishing, not because he bothered to punish his students (beyond shouting 'NO! NO! NO!' if, for example, you misidentified a passage of Eliot as Pound — he couldn't help that). The punishment was one's feeling that he lived more because he knew more, and was always learning more, so you would never catch up. Once, as a sophomore, I stumbled into a private lesson he was taking in Swahili. To get over the fact that one would never become like Professor Hollander was a lesson in itself."
  • The art and design blog Colossal features examples of "fore-edge" paintings — secret, exquisite paintings on the edges of books that are revealed when the pages are warped in just the right way.
  • Mary Gaitskill writes in Bookforum about the "sickening" appeal of Gillian Flynn's bestselling Gone Girl: "The only reason I kept reading was that I'd taken it with me on a long train ride, and it was better than obsessively checking my messages (which is something). As I read, I began to find the thing genuinely frightening. By the time the train ride was over, I felt I was reading something truly sick and dark — and in case you don't know, I'm supposedly sick and dark."
  • For Poetry magazine, Lemony Snicket (adorable alter-ego of adorable author Daniel Handler), selects 20 poems for a feature called "Poetry Not Written for Children That Children Might Nevertheless Enjoy." He begins, "The poems contained in this children's poetry portfolio are not made for children. Poetry is like a curvy slide in a playground — an odd object, available to the public — and, as I keep explaining to my local police force, everyone should be able to use it, not just those of a certain age."
  • Cole Haan's fall ad campaign features an unexpected new model: the 85-year-old Maya Angelou (looking extremely chic in all black). She recently told Vogue: "Eighty is OK. But eighty-five is a knockout."
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