• Can an online crowd create a novel?

• David McKie responds to Brian Brivati’s exhortation to biographers (“Write from hate. Write from love. But don’t write from indifference….”). It’s not as simple as that, McKie says.

• Insulting instruction manuals (for dummies and complete idiots) are still flying off the shelves.

• Mediabistro asked some book lovers, including me, what “guilty pleasures” they’ll take to the beach this summer. I didn’t want to be all, “pleasure, what’s that?” So I said Migra Mouse: Political Cartoons on Immigration, by Lalo Alcaraz, which as you’ll deduce from the title is not exactly a bucket* of laughs, but on the strength of Alcaraz’s editorial cartoons I’m eager to read it.

• I thought about mentioning How to Be Idle, too, although I only have a sampler forwarded by a friend. I excerpted a bit from it earlier this week. Smart, hilarious stuff.

• The best book I’ve read so far this summer: Sarajevo Marlboro, a collection of short stories by Bosnian writer Miljenko Jergovic. I’ll say more about that later. I’m also reading (and, so far, enjoying) a U.K. advance of William Boyd’s Fascination, and I’m revisiting some short stories by Victoria Lancelotta. Michelle Tea’s Valencia is on deck.

• “Reading Reading Lolita in Tehran in Tehran.”

• Stephen Elliott has a piece entitled “My Little Brother Ruined My Life” in the current print issue of Maisonneuve, a magazine out of Montreal. This particular article isn’t available online, and I haven’t read it yet because I keep forgetting to send in the check for my subscription. Here’s a quick fluff piece from the current issue: “If Paris Hilton Wrote Poetry.” (Via Mark Sarvas.)

• Font playing cards. (Via Bookninja, where the boys have a proposition for you.)

• And via LanguageHat, a history of the ampersand.

* Word now in frequent rotation thanks to Twinkle Twinkle Blah Blah Blah Etc.

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