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Bestselling Books Are Getting Longer, Study Finds

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Good news for fans of long, immersive literature: According to a recent survey by Vervesearch on behalf of interactive publisher Flipsnack, bestselling books are getting longer. Vervesearch chose 2515 books from The New York Times bestseller and notable books lists and Google’s annual survey of most-discussed books, and found that, on average, page length has increased by 25 percent over the last 15 years, growing from around 320 pages in 1999 to 400 in 2014.

It’s a fascinating finding, though its implications are unclear. Some believe the shift from print copies to digital e-readers has encouraged readers to pick up longer books. James Finlayson from Vervesearch told The Guardian that he believes seeing a large book in a bookshop can be intimidating to casual readers, whereas “on Amazon the size of a book is just a footnote that you don’t really pay all that much attention to.”

But according to The Guardian, some of the most popular e-book genres, such as romance and crime, produce the shortest books. In contrast to Finlayson's theory, Granta editor Max Porter believes that the popularity of long books has its roots in a cultural, rather than technological, shift. As he explained it to The Guardian, “The novel has come into its own novel-ness. There so many demands on our attention, so many competing forms, that these novels have decided to relish being big and long, to demand that you sit in a chair, turn off your phone and devote some time to them.”

Further research is likely needed to pinpoint why books are getting longer. For now, readers can form their own theories—or just jump into one of the long, excellent novels on the current New York Times bestsellers list.

[h/t: The Guardian]

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Hamilton Broadway
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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
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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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New Tolkien-Themed Botany Book Describes the Plants of Middle-Earth
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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.

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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