— A manual on sex and pregnancy from 1680 (above) has been banned from sale for more than 200 years in the United Kingdom. But Aristotle's Compleat Master-Piece will be in bookstores this month.
— "George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You'll Read This Year." I'm not surprised. Also: thrilled. I can't wait for this.
— Natasha Trethewey takes up residence in the nation's capital as our new poet laureate. "I like the idea that people might even get to sit down and have a conversation about poetry with me."
— Sharon Olds: "I want a poem to be useful."
— The American Reader, a new literary magazine, is getting a ton of top-tier buzz. I feel both intrigued and .. put-off by it. I'm skeptical about the literary interest of a magazine that seems to start, from Day 1, on an elite status that seems to already inspire pandering media attention, commenting on the editors' fashion sense. On the other hand, it does have lot that's unique and smart and beautiful going for it. For one, it's helmed by a 25-year-old African Catholic who just graduated from Princeton who speaks fluently about the view from the cultural margins on literary white privilege.
— Zadie Smith writes about joy.
— Edith Grossman on love and translation, via Words Without Borders.
— Four Way Press is kicking it.
— "The House Eudora Built." Visiting Ms. Welty's home in Jackson, Mississippi.
— The Sorrows of Young Forster: E.M. Forster's journals and diaries are reviewed by Alan Hollinghurst.
— "…at the hour when the parricide feels a cat purring against his feet…" Worldly Thornton Wilder, via Harper's.
— Reader favorites: 12 incredible webcomics.
— In transit: people caught reading.
— Edmund White offers sex tips for writers.
— I constantly find myself arguing for the value of "objectivity" in journalism as a practice, rather than a state-of-being: a critical value in reporting that is not to be confused with the "he-said, she-said" journalism known as false balance. Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, pens a column on just this issue: "When Reporters Get Personal."
— An oral history of Newsweek magazine.
— Here's why front-page obituaries more than doubled in the New York Times in 2012.
— The amazing story of the woman who "at 22 almost single-handedly wrote women’s rights into the Constitution of modern Japan, and then kept silent about it for decades." She was one of the last living people who wrote Japan's postwar constitution.
— Fact: For the first time since 1984, this past presidential election featured not one question on global warming. Four out of 10 people on earth have never heard of climate change, even if they've experienced its harsh consequences. Bill Moyers on "Moyers & Company" talks about ending the silence on climate change with Anthony Leiserowitz, who spends his life doing just that.
— And, as federal action on climate change is seriously lacking, some cities are taking real leadership. Here are 12 cities with the best workable policies on sustainability.
— A gorgeous black meteorite from Mars has more water than any other we've found in Earth.
— NASA marks fifty years of space photography.
— One Hundred Years of Solitude persuaded Francine Prose to drop out of her PhD program.
— Christian Wiman is leaving Poetry magazine for Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
— Jessa Crispin on materiality and the power of religious relics.
— "I want women’s history to be legitimate, to be part of every curriculum on every level." Gerda Lerner has died. She almost singleheandedly made women's lives a legitimate subject of study for historians.
— One of dictator Pinochet's last acts was to ban abortion in Chile in all circumstances. It had been legal since 1931. Today, there's a nervy effort to push back with an abortion hotline that walks a heated grey area.
— Egad: 2012's deluge of "Africa is a Country" moments.
— Arundhati Roy speaks on the misuses of democracy.
— "Survival of the wrongest": How personal health journalism does it all wrong.
— On the class politics of vaccination.
— Civil Eats: The best food and agriculture books of the last year.
— Physicists consider the rise and fall of words.
— Why don't more girls study physics?
— Gender in academia: men dominate philosophy and history, but aren't much of a show in education. There's a big difference in how gender participate on campus. Diversity will lead to better science. Misconceptions of the school-to-prison pipeline.
— Reading aloud, fashionably.