Literature is home to a host of unforgettable parties, from Gatsby’s all-night blowouts to the Crazy Rich wedding of the century. But while readers enjoy getting a glimpse into these lavish events, they often crave something quite different for themselves. Here, we’ll help you to throw a silent reading party for your book club that caters to your members’ favorite things: curling up with a good book and reading quietly.
Portrait of Mary Shelley. (Photo: Culture Club/Getty Images)
“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” – Mary Shelley
Okay, so it might not be a real, recognized holiday, and yes, the big 200th anniversary was last year, but 201st is still pretty cool.
Mary Shelley published Frankenstein on March 11, 1818 and the worlds of literature, horror and story-telling haven’t been the same since. Few stories or characters have occupied the cultural imagination as long or as pervasively as Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstien and his monster.
How do you celebrate? You could…
Write your own story (gothic horror optional)
Read up on Mary Shelley
Read something else that features her famous monster (there’s a lot to choose from)
Stitch together your own unholy abomination and bring it to life with chemical cocktails, lightning and hubris
We’re not telling you what to do, but all but the last of those you can do at the library… and we wouldn’t really recommend the last one. It didn’t work out well for the good doctor.
From a tiny copy of the Divine Comedy and a once-illegal birth control guide to a Bible the size of a stamp, these strange artifacts are masterpieces writ small.
A miniature book containing The Lord’s Prayer is displayed at London Christie’s in 2006, that measures five by five millimetres. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
It is known as the “fly’s eye Dante”: an 1878 edition of the Divine Comedy which is so small – just 11/4 by 13/4 inches – that it is said to have taken 11 years to print, and to have damaged the eyes of both its compositor and corrector. Bound in red leather embossed with gold, the world’s smallest edition of Dante’s classic poem, which was printed by the Salmin Brothers in Padua, is one of almost 50 officially designated miniature books housed in the London Library. Nomenclature is important here: according to the US-based Miniature Book Society, a miniature book “is no more than three inches in height, width, or thickness”, and while the London Library has some 350-odd “small” books, of less than five inches, it has only 47 true miniatures. The library decided they were being overshadowed by their larger cousins, so now they are gathered together in a glass-fronted cabinet.
“What kind of a name is Ishmael? No, we’ll name him something cool… like Herman!”*
Happy birthday, Mr. Melville!
Celebrate the author of one of the most famous, most adapted, most parodied stories of all time, Moby Dick. While not his first or only creations, the monstrous white whale and obsessed captain hunting it have become cultural icons and have greatly surpassed contemporary expectations.
The book was initially a bit of a flop and didn’t sell well until after Herman Melville’s death. So, pick up a copy of the book, or a graphic novel or film adaptation, or at least the Cliffs Notes version today, and show your support and appreciation. I bet the Moline Library could help you find something.
*While I doubt that Herman Melville’s parents had this conversation while looking upon their baby boy for the first time, isn’t it fun to pretend?