Thursday News: Reader manifesto, platonic love, Marie Antoinette, and the best room ever
A manifesto for readers – You know, I’m all about a reader’s manifesto. Mine would probably be short, and it might be along the lines of ‘readers don’t owe anyone anything’ but this one is more, uh, complex. And, maybe complicated in a somewhat troublesome way. There’s a catchy bit about shifting power bases and the reader not being a passive consumer (agitate against the status quo!), and I like the idea of thinking about how readers engage with books in more sophisticated ways (e.g. we are not passive consumers who can’t form an independent thought about a book). But I’m not sure what Sam Ruddock and Bianca Winter mean when they mention a “‘fair read’ agreement” and more “ethical buying and reading.” Do I hear an echo of the word “piracy” in the background there?
That’s why we are forming We Are Readers, a band of readers who promote a culture of reading broadly and connecting widely. We’ve been travelling the UK, meeting and interviewing readers, and will be sharing their reading lives stories. We’re thinking about reader-to-reader recommendations and distribution, challenging the algorithms that make unsophisticated connections and narrow what readers are exposed to and discover. And we’re exploring how a “fair read” agreement between readers might lead to more ethical buying and reading, in a similar way that fair trade has revolutionised the trade in bananas. – The Bookseller
Platonic, Until Death Do Us Part – So the NYT has this new series called “modern love,” which consists of reader-driven content. Could be an interesting source of inspiration for romance novelists. Or not. This piece is definitely not a paean to asexuality, but rather the chronicle of a gay man’s emotional journey with his straight female best friend. Initially both worried that their closeness was making it impossible for them to find romantic life partners, but after a series of unsatisfying or unworkable romantic relationships and interludes, the two are now co-habitating, and the essay’s author, Ephi Stempler, wonders if this is his most satisfying life relationship. Anyone else reading this series, and if so, what do you think?
After 16 years as best friends and occasional roommates, we have become something else, something that doesn’t seem to have a name. We joke that we are each other’s PLP’s — platonic life partners — and recall the promise we made in our 20s: “If neither of us finds a husband by 40, let’s get married. If only for the registry.”
We’re now both 41, the same age as Stephen Daldry when he married his best friend. And we’re both wondering: What if he had it right? After all, the couples that I consider the happiest — mostly gay men who opened up their relationships decades ago — are not lovers as much as best friends. – New York Times
Revealed: Marie Antoinette’s Scandalous Secret Letters to Her Lover – A new book is set to be released in March, and it concerns a series of letters, written in both code and invisible ink, from Marie Antoinette to Axel von Fersen, a Swedish count whose relationship with the queen was portrayed in Sophia Coppola’s film about the the young French monarch. A number of letters have been decoded and transcribed, both by France’s Research Center for the Conservation of Collections (CRCC) and historian Evelyn Farr, the upcoming book’s author. The letters have re-ignited debate about whether Marie Antoinette could have had a physical relationship with another man (there is even question about her children’s paternity), because the queen had a number of men around her, and with whom she enjoyed somewhat a somewhat cheeky correspondence.
“However, if you compare the letters she wrote to Valentin and the letters written to Fersen, you can see the difference in tone. With Valentin it was always, ‘my dear count,’ not ‘I love you madly.’ Would you write ‘I love you madly’ to a platonic friend?”
Well, maybe. According to Fanny Cosandey, a French historian and a professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, while the count and the queen may have shared a love story, it likely only unfolded on the page, not in the bedroom. – Daily Beast
Dad Spends 18 Months Building Daughter Fairytale Bedroom (Complete With Giant Tree!) – First of all, check out these photos and tell me you don’t want this very same bedroom. And what an amazing way for a father to show his daughter how special she is to him. He even learned how to weld in order to make this thing!
Reddit user Raddamshome transformed his daughter’s bedroom into a fairy forest, complete with a giant tree that she can climb up or sit in. The project took 350 hours to complete over the course of 18 months, since he was working on weekends and weeknights between a demanding gig as a video game artist. – Yahoo!