How we discovered three poisonous books in our university library

medical issues from green arsenic

Some may remember the deadly book of Aristotle that plays a vital part in the plot of Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel The Name of the Rose. Poisoned by a mad Benedictine monk, the book wreaks havoc in a 14th-century Italian monastery, killing all readers who happen to lick their fingers when turning the toxic pages. Could something like this happen in reality? Poisoning by books?

Our recent research indicates so. We found that three rare books on various historical topics in the University of Southern Denmark’s library collection contain large concentrations of arsenic on their covers. The books come from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The poisonous qualities of these books were detected by conducting a series of X-ray fluorescence analyses (micro-XRF). This technology displays the chemical spectrum of a material by analysing the characteristic “secondary” radiation that is emitted from the material during a high-energy X-ray bombardment. Micro-XRF technology is widely used within the fields of archaeology and art, when investigating the chemical elements of pottery and paintings, for example.

Read @ Popular Science

Mighty Writers sends 100 Spanish-language children’s books to immigrants detained in Berks County

Picking up a bookmark reading, “You have friends in the United States // Tienes un amigo en los Estados Unidos,” 10-year-old Jocylyn began to draw a pink and yellow flower amid the printed lettering. Next, she drew a sun, followed by a line of blue rain, finishing with a grassy layer beneath the flower’s stem.

“The flower is starting to fall, but then the rain comes down onto it and gives it strength to pick itself back up,” said Jocylyn. “I want the kid who sees this to feel the same way.”

Jocylyn was one of 30 Latino children who gathered at Mighty Writers’ El Futuro location on Thursday to craft personal messages and designs on 700 bookmarks. Destined for immigrant detention centers across the country, each bookmark will be paired with a Spanish-language children’s book and sent out by Mighty Writers, a local nonprofit that works to develop writing skills among youths at six Philadelphia locations.

Read @ Philly.com

4 apps to help organize your books, music and movies

Over time many of us collect things, with books, music and movies being among them. We don’t have it in us to throw any of it away, but often times they end up on storage boxes or somewhere that is out of sight and out of mind.

But what happens then is you forget what you have. You may feel like you owned a copy of that book or that DVD, but do you really want to go through box after box to check?

Read @ Komando

NC Literary Review accepting submissions for new awards

The North Carolina Literary Review announced on Tuesday it is accepting submissions for two new writing awards that recognize forgotten or neglected writers from North Carolina.

The review will award a $250 honorarium to winners of the new Paul Green Prize and the John Ehle Prize, according to a news release from East Carolina University, which publishes the annual.

“One of my missions as editor of NCLR has been to inspire renewed interest in neglected or forgotten writers from North Carolina,” said editor Margaret D. Bauer, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Science distinguished professor and Rives Chair of Southern Literature in the department of English. “I’ve encouraged scholarship on John Ehle and Paul Green, for example, and I am always excited to receive a submission on some other writer I’ve never heard of.”

Read @ Greenville Daily Reflector

Popular Music Holds Power Over Popular Literature

Florence Dore, author, singer, and professor of American Literature at UNC Chapel Hill.

Literature and popular music are not worlds that usually intersect, at least not in most people’s minds. But Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature and Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize in music prove that these two forms not only intersect, but have been connected for decades.

Read @ WUNC

Beyond the recipe: Expand your food brain this summer with these books

School might be out for summer, but home cooks know you never stop learning, especially when it comes to food.

If you’re looking for some food-related reading this summer, we rounded up 15 nonfiction books that will fill your mind with new ways of looking at the foods, gadgets and tools we use every day, as well as the centuries of history that got us to where we are today. Some of these books offer recipes, but none of them is a traditional cookbook.

Read @ MyStatesman.com

GameStop Explains How and Why It’s Going to Start Selling Comic Books

A few weeks ago, America’s largest video game retail chain announced that it’s going to enter the comic book business. It was a move that took many by surprise. Now, we’ve got an interview with a GameStop executive who explains the thinking behind the decision.

I spoke with GameStop’s director of consumer products Clint Walker last week over the phone, where he told me that the decision was based on the types of people who frequent their stores. In the conversation that follows, Walker paints the comics-selling initiative as an evolution of GameStop’s current business, and also explains how the company is planning to step into a whole other area of pop-culture retail.

Read @ Gizmodo