Books

In his new book Around the World in 80 Books, David Damrosch builds an itinerary that circumnavigates the globe—and doesn't require a passport to enjoy.

Virtual Travel

A Literary Scholar Takes Us Around the World in Eight Books

Harvard professor David Damrosch's new release has readers traveling to London, Paris, Nigeria, Tokyo and beyond without ever leaving home

The bold, brilliant Mary Wroth with a string instrument called a theorbo, circa 1620.

The Secret Codes of Lady Wroth, the First Female English Novelist

The Renaissance noblewoman is little known today, but in her time she was a notorious celebrity

The Marchioness (2016) depicts a member of the fictional UmuEze Amara family, "one of the oldest noble clans in Nigeria."

Imagining a Different History for Africa Through Art

Toyin Ojih Odutola conjures a world that might have been

Detail from a manuscript made for King Lebna Dengel, circa 1520, Tädbabä Maryam Monastery, Ethiopia.

A New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe

For centuries, a Eurocentric worldview disregarded the knowledge and strength of the African empire

This month's book picks include The Engagement, How the Word Is Passed and Drunk.

Books of the Month

The Fight to Legalize Gay Marriage, the Woman Who Couldn't Be Silenced and Other New Books to Read

These June releases elevate overlooked stories and offer insights on oft-discussed topics

At the library of St. Mark’s Syrian Orthodox Monastery in Jerusalem, Stewart and Abouna Shimon Can, a monk, view centuries-old Syriac manuscripts.

This American Monk Travels the World to Rescue Ancient Documents From Oblivion

Father Columba Stewart has visited sites from Kathmandu to Timbuktu in his mission to safeguard precious manuscripts that tell humanity's story

Iran's Lake Urmia, once one of the largest saltwater lakes in the world, is vanishing due to climate change.

Innovation for Good

Can Climate Fiction Writers Reach People in Ways That Scientists Can't?

A new subgenre of science fiction leans on the expertise of biologists and ecologists to imagine a scientifically plausible future Earth

Yvette, East Los Angeles Car Club, City of Industry, CA, August 14, 2015

The Vibrant History of Lowrider Car Culture in L.A.

With bright paint jobs and bouncy hydraulics, the 'low and slow' rides are an expression of cultural identity for the city's Mexican American community

This drawing of a performance of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus has given scholars an understanding of how blackface was used in Elizabethan England.

Blackface Is Older Than You Might Think

From medieval European theater troupes to American minstrelsy, the harmful tradition has a surprisingly long history

A children's seesaw stands among former apartment buildings in Pripyat, Ukraine. Pripyat, built in the 1970s to house the workers and families of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, now stands abandoned inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Thirty-Five Years Later, a First Responder at the Chernobyl Disaster Looks Back

In her new book, Alla Shapiro shares her experience of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history

Peter Mark Roget compiled his influential thesaurus late in life.

Before He Wrote a Thesaurus, Roget Had to Escape Napoleon's Dragnet

At the dawn of the 19th century, the young Brit got caught in an international crisis while touring Europe

Blue agave grows in a field in the town of Arenal, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

Virtual Travel

Around the World in Eight Plants

A new book takes readers on a journey across our planet, stopping to smell flowers and appreciate other species along the way

Example of a new meeting background in use, featuring the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.

Smithsonian Voices

Celebrate National Library Week With Bibliophilic Backgrounds for Your Virtual Meetings

Smithsonian Libraries and Archives offers book lovers these nine stylish backdrops

Newbery Honoree Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again and the new picture book Jump at the Sun, the first biography of Zora Neale Hurston written for children.

Smithsonian Voices

How Alicia D. Williams Is Reviving Storytelling for Black Children

Williams wanted a different story for her daughter—and for herself. So, she set out to write it

The dictionary documents the “core” vocabulary of science fiction that turns up again and again, both in stories and in the real world.

A Dictionary of Science Fiction Runs From Afrofuturism to Zero-G

The long-running project found a new online home, one that showcases the literary genre’s outsized impact on popular culture

What if literature was an invention for making us happier and healthier?

Eight of Literature's Most Powerful Inventions—and the Neuroscience Behind How They Work

These reoccuring story elements have proven effects on our imagination, our emotions and other parts of our psyche

Jennifer Doudna, a Nobel Prize recipient for her work on the gene-editing tool CRISPR, and the "life sciences revolution" are the dual subjects of Walter Isaacson's latest biography.

How Scientist Jennifer Doudna Is Leading the Next Technological Revolution

A new book from Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson offers an incisive portrait of the gene editing field that is changing modern medicine

“It’s not a historical museum,” Henrik Lübker says. “It’s more an existential museum.”

This Hans Christian Andersen Museum Asks You to Step Into a Fairy Tale

Opening soon in the storyteller's hometown of Odense, Denmark, the museum allows visitors to experience his multilayered stories

Smithsonian Libraries and Archives invites you to a series of four Adopt-a-Book Salons in March and April.

Smithsonian Voices

Calling All Bibliophiles: Here's How to Adopt a Book

Smithsonian Libraries and Archives invites you to a series of four Adopt-a-Book Salons in March and April

A copy of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was gifted to the National Museum of American History and exhibited in a 2015 exhibition "The Early Sixties: American Culture."

The Powerful, Complicated Legacy of Betty Friedan's 'The Feminine Mystique'

The acclaimed reformer stoked the white, middle-class feminist movement and brought critical understanding to a “problem that had no name”

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