See the World’s Largest Collection of Shakespeare’s First Folio



shakespeare first folio

Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

Listen Up!

There’s a lot to celebrate in Audiobook Appreciation Month, and not just because audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment of the books market, having topped $2 billion in sales in 2023. Originally created in 1932 as assistive technology for blind people, audiobooks went wide in 1975 when former Olympic rower Duvall Hecht launched Books on Tape. Hecht’s directive was to keep it simple: “no abridgments, no emoting, just straight, traditional reading aloud.” Now, nearly 50 years later, audiobooks figure into most Americans’ lives, and some narrators have become celebrities in their own right. Here’s The Washington Post‘s Katherine A. Powers with an ode to audiobook narrators who have elevated reading aloud to its own artistic endeavor.

Spines Out

After a four-year, $80 million renovation, Washington D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Library has reopened, and it’s got the goods on display. Sort of. Home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s First Folio (82 copies, more than a third of all known editions), the Folger historically kept the prized editions under curatorial lock and key—literally in a vault, viewable only to scholars who were granted access by request. Now, anyone can visit the basement galleries and see the Folios, which are “displayed in a special wall case, laid flat with spines out.” A few are also on display open to interior pages, if, like me, you need more than being in the presence of rare books to motivate you to make a special trip.

NPR has a sneak preview of the exhibit, and it’s practically radiating old-book smell. Should you find yourself in D.C. this summer, you could do worse than a cool, dimly lit basement filled with literary artifacts on a sweltering afternoon.

In the Mood?

There’s a meme floating around the bookternet that says something like, “My favorite part of the writing process is cleaning the house.” Writing rituals come in myriad forms, and whether you find them silly or essential, you’ll probably enjoy this peek into the process.

Don’t get your hopes up for Ann Patchett’s secrets, though. She “makes a real point of no kind of reward, no tricks, no comfort item at her side.” Seems to be going okay for her.

The Best Queer Books of 2024 So Far, According to All the Lists

We’re just about at the halfway point of 2024, and it’s right in time for Pride. Book Riot’s Danika Ellis takes a look at the queer books making the best-of-2024-so-far lists.

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