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Screenshot: The Pages Project

Digitizing the Unique Marginalia of Old Books

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Screenshot: The Pages Project

Even the most ardent defender of old book smell has to admit that digitizing the vast and essentially unending stream of texts, both old and new, is a valuable use of technology. E-readers aren't anti-book, they're just space savers for voracious readers. But one particular proponent of the e-reader, a graphic designer named Erik Schmitt who worked on the original Kindle, found out their limitations first hand.

In 2007, while working on the Kindle, Schmitt inherited an impressive collection of poetry, philosophical treatises, and classics from his late grandfather. Strewn throughout the texts were fascinating bits of marginalia that illuminated both the books and the life of his grandfather. Schmitt recognized that despite the benefits of the then-forthcoming Kindle, these invaluable and unique scrawlings would be lost in the age of e-readers.

"I was working in technology," Schmitt, now 55, told the Huffington Post, "but I realized that in our excitement about the future, we were leaving these fascinating artifacts behind."

Now, Schmitt is working to bring marginalia into the modern age with a new technological venture. After several years of scouring bookstores in his hometown of Berkeley, Calif. he launched The Pages Project, a beautiful website that digitizes specific examples of marginalia with an inviting format that encourages exploration.

For now, the site features just 50 texts, including The Essential Tales of Chekhov, and Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein, but its "Submit a Page" function invites users to comb through their own collections and upload interesting marginalia.

"I'd like people to reflect on what may be lost as we move further into the digital age," Schmitt says. "This period in our history might never be repeated."

[h/t Huffington Post]

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Hamilton Broadway
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Food
A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
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Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

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fun
New Tolkien-Themed Botany Book Describes the Plants of Middle-Earth
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iStock

While reading The Lord of the Rings saga, it's hard not to notice J.R.R. Tolkien’s clear love of nature. The books are replete with descriptions of lush foliage, rolling prairies, and coniferous forests. A new botany book builds on that knowledge: Entertainment Weekly reports that Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium provides fantasy-loving naturalists with a round-up of plants that grow in Middle-earth.

Cover art for botanist Walter Judd's book
Oxford University Press

Written by University of Florida botanist Walter Judd, the book explores the ecology, etymology, and importance of over 160 plants. Many are either real—coffee, barley, wheat, etc.—or based on real-life species. (For example, pipe-weed may be tobacco, and mallorns are large trees similar to beech trees.)

Using his botany background, Judd explores why Tolkien may have felt compelled to include each in his fantasy world. His analyses are paired with woodcut-style drawings by artist Graham Judd, which depict Middle-earth's flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and shrubs in their "natural" environments.

[h/t Entertainment Weekly]

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