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Taking a Possible Bath

Mary in Laramie, Wyoming, says her mother used to speak of taking a possible bath, meaning washing up using water from the sink instead of taking a bath or a shower. The idea is that you wash up as far as possible, then down as far as possible, and...

Asbestos 451

Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (Bookshop|Amazon) takes its title from the temperature at which book pages burn. Some 200 copies of the first edition of the book were bound with an unusual material: asbestos. A few are still...

The Most Dreadful Thing at Sea

Victor Hugo’s 1874 novel Ninety-Three includes a terrifying description of a heavy cannon coming loose on board a ship, an event he calls “perhaps the most dreadful thing that can take place at sea.” This is part of a complete...