Critical Linking: July 26, 2014

The Cape Henlopen School District’s summer reading list for incoming high school freshmen will not include the controversial book, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” – or any other book.

The district school board voted 6-1 on Thursday night to return to the district’s previous summer reading requirements, which demand college preparatory students read one book for the summer and honors students read two books.

The amount of power one school board just exercised in not eliminating one title from the summer reading list but the entire list itself is astounding.


The creation of bookplates followed the development of the moveable type printing press in mid–fifteenth century Europe. Bookplates first appeared in the 1480s with the book–owner’s coat of arms. In America, people started using them as early as 1680 and in greater numbers in the 1730s. And by the end of the nineteenth century, when the Arts and Crafts Movement was challenging the excessive decoration of the earlier Victorian taste, bookplate collecting became a fashionable pursuit, one that would remain so until World War II.

Here’s a fascinating microhistory of bookplates.


My favorite place to read is in a dark bar mid-day. Although I can read almost anywhere, we’re each allowed our preferences and mine is so. Coffee shops feel pretentious, the gym is freaking weird. Libraries are fine but there’s so much candy and I can’t handle it all calling my name. The last thing I read was The Conversations by Cesar Aira, and I devoured it in this quaint little dive up the road from my house. Aira’s stuff is super meandering and detailed and it requires all of my senses working in unison; the bar is always close to empty when I go, so it’s everything I need.

Combine you love for reading and booze in one place: the bar.


“We really feel, and think, that our little contribution to world literature is worth noticing,” says Sjón, one of the country’s foremost contemporary authors, sitting in a bookstore in downtown Reykjavík on a rainy April morning. “This was a very poor country — a third-world country — until well into the second, third decade of the 20th century,” he says. “We have no cathedrals to show from the past. We have no paintings. We have no symphonies. We’ve got nothing.

“Literature is the only constant cultural activity that has been going on here throughout the centuries.”

Seems like there’s a lot of love for France and reading, but maybe we should be paying more attention to Iceland’s literary culture.