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An Animated History of the Book

For hundreds of years, books have served as the world’s primary method of recording information, sharing knowledge, and telling stories. At some point, we’ve all disappeared into the magical world of a fantasy novel, begrudgingly memorized facts and figures from a textbook, or used our local library to learn about math, science, philosophy, or history. But as intrinsic as books are to education and recreation, most of us rarely stop to think about the history of the humble devices carrying all that crucial information.

In the short TED-Ed video “The Evolution of the Book,” Julie Dreyfuss explores the history of the book in order to ask a larger question: What, exactly, makes a book a book? Dreyfuss explains how books as we know them—with their paper and ink, binding and cover—came to be. She breaks down story into its individual components, explaining how physical components like ink, and stylistic features like font, came from different historical sources.

In the end, she asks whether the shift from printed and bound volumes to digital books and eReaders is changing the way we read. “As the book evolves and we replace bound texts with flat screens and electronic ink, are these objects and files really books?” she wonders. "Does the feel of the cover or the smell of the paper add something crucial to the experience, or does the magic live only within the words, no matter what their presentation?” Watch the video above and decide for yourself.

Banner Image Credit: TED-Ed, YouTube

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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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iStock
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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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