Critical Linking: July 13, 2014

Blind and visually impaired children will now be able to experience classic picture books like Goodnight Moon and Harold and the Purple Crayon with the help of 3D printing technology.

Researchers at the University of Colorado have created a new project that can convert standard picture books into 3D-printed pages, letting children with visual impairments follow the raised illustrations by touch as the stories are read aloud.

I’ve been skeptical about 3D printing, but then I read stuff like this and think 3D printing is pretty damn awesome.

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There are dinners that are planned to be dreadful in Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens and Titus Andronicus (in both cases, don’t ask what’s on the menu), but in Macbeth the man himself is not expecting to have his banquet ruined by a ghostly apparition. Thomas Cromwell in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall thinks a lot about a feast in Ancient Greece where the roof falls in and everyone dies except the poet Simonides. Belshazzar’s Feast in the Bible’s Book of Daniel has the note of true drama, as a hand appears to create the original, actual writing on the wall.

How about some bad dinner parties in fiction? Maybe being fictional isn’t better than being real.

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What underlies France’s book laws isn’t just an economic position — it’s also a worldview. Quite simply, the French treat books as special. Some 70 percent of French people said they read at least one book last year; the average among French readers was 15 books. Readers say they trust books far more than any other medium, including newspapers and TV. The French government classifies books as an “essential good,” along with electricity, bread and water. (A French friend of mine runs a charity, Libraries Without Borders, which brings books to survivors of natural disasters.) “We don’t force French people to go to bookstores,” explains Vincent Montagne, head of the French Publishers Association. “They go to bookstores because they read.”

The French are book people. I’m curious how their libraries are though. Anything remotely close to the way American libraries look? Because that’s a pretty special, book-appreciative institution, too.

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Bookshops are among some of the most inspiring places in the world. In amongst shelves of books, under dimmed lights, you can relax and let your imagination take flight. Here are some of the most interesting ones from around the world. 

While we’re on the subject of bookstores and book people, here are some really gorgeous bookstores.

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