Between the covers: What's really going on in the world of books

Dreams of Freedom includes disarming quotes from children who were interviewed by Amnesty about freedom, civil liberties, and Nelson Mandela

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The Independent Culture

Between the Covers is besotted with a new book called Dreams of Freedom, published by Amnesty International to bring together inspirational quotes from the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, Anne Frank, and Nelson Mandela to introduce ideas about human rights to children.

The quotes include tear-jerkers such as this, from Malala Yousafzai: “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I am afraid of no one.” But even more disarming are some of the comments from children who were interviewed by Amnesty about freedom, civil liberties, and Nelson Mandela.

One little girl tackles the thorny issue of women’s suffrage by speculating about how life would be “if only men could boss people around …” Another reminds us that “[Mandela] stood up for what he believed in; that white people shouldn’t just get to have all the fun, and black people should have the fun as well.” A little boy (quite a little boy) is asked what equality looks like and replies: “If you had one man over here, and he was five-years-old, and one man over here and he was five-years-old, they would all be the same size.” The sooner these children grow up and are in charge of bossing people around, the better.

Thanks to the popular science website popsci.com, which has interpreted a scientific paper with the title “Biological Versus Electronic Adaptive Coloration: How Can One Inform The Other?” to bring us this intriguing news: the human eye can only distinguish about 30 shades of grey. Note to publishers: the human brain can barely distinguish one copycat version of EL James’s best-seller from another, and even those are too many. Popsci adds: “Human color vision is much richer. People are thought to be able to detect about 10 million unique colors.” Just saying.

Hot on the heels of last year’s bestselling poetry book Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, edited by Anthony and Ben Holden, Simon & Schuster has signed up the equivalent collection of 100 famous women to select their top poems to blub to, for publication in time for Mother’s Day 2016. This news gives Between the Covers an excuse to re-read for the thousandth time Wendy Cope’s “Idyll”, which has been known to reduce an entire congregation at a wedding to tears. It’s from her third collection, If I Don’t Know.

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