“They let us in, so I’m feeling all right…”

“I like to go where, sometimes, they refuse,” quipped Alcuin in a letter composed during a heat wave at the end of the ninth century, likening his humid chamber at Tours to the fires of Hell. “Yes, I remember last Saturday night,” replied Charlemagne wearily, “but I’m feeling cooler now.” As the Franks found relief in swimming holes and breezy groves, so may you find shade in these summertime links.

Lawyers know that unicorn flesh is not, in fact, “the other white meat.”

Jake Seliger interviews Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians.

Maggie Stiefvater talks about revising novels.

Adrian Murdoch serves up recent books on Late Antiquity.

Steven Riddle reads “Sonnet V” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

When you write a book, people with little to no publishing experience turn into marketing gurus whose outlandish recommendations for self-promotion make the ShamWow guy look like Emily Dickinson. That’s why I relished author Maureen Johnson’s contrarian manifesto about “branding.” (Via Lynn.)

My friend at Ephemeral New York discovers “the birdmen of an Upper East Side building.”

If one of Chaucer’s sneakier pilgrims got lost in 1944, he might look an awful lot like Louis Jordan’s “Deacon Jones.”

The world is a better place when it contains a one-woman, polyphonic, ukulele cover of “God Only Knows.”

Finally, for the hundreds of you who’ve written to me asking, “Where would a starving hobbit in suburban Maryland seek quasi-magical refreshment?”, here’s your long-awaited answer:

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