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An Incredible Story of the Exclamation Mark!

17 Jan 2022

In today's reality, you often have to convert all your emotions into text format and express them through emoticons and stickers with screaming cats. But there is a much more proven way to show your interlocutor that you are at the edge of your rope. An exclamation mark! A good old stick with a dot can turn any phrase into a real outcry from the heart. Where did it come from? What incredible story is behind it? And why do we put one or three exclamation marks but never two? There are too many questions in this introduction, so let's look for the answers.

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What is Jolabokaflod and Why You Also Need It

28 Dec 2021

What is your ideal New Year's present? If you're such a rabid fan of reading that you follow the articles of the National Library, this is clearly a book. Large selection, beautifully designed and easy to pack. Perfect. The tradition of giving books as holiday gifts is much older than it seems, but some countries have managed to turn it into something special. Into an extraordinary experience that is worth adopting for all of us. Get your diction up: we're going to talk about what Jolabokaflod is and why you need it.

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Song of a Forgotten Holiday: How Charles Dickens Invented (Not Really) Christmas

22 Dec 2021

The winter holiday atmosphere is a fertile ground for writers, which is why stories have always been written that revolve around fir trees, presents, fireside gatherings and the appreciation of the family. All in all, Christmas by the checklist. Has it always been like this? No. But one day Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol burst into literature and taught everyone what real holidays should be like. Get comfy: it's time to talk about how Dickens invented the modern Christmas – and whether he invented it at all.

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About Dedications in Books and What's Behind Them

20 Dec 2021

Where do you start reading? No, let's set aside the "agonizing choice", "buying" and "trying to find the time and place" stages; where do you really start reading? Before your eye grabs the first line, it goes through all those seemingly superfluous things – a poetic epigraph, an introduction by a translator, a dedication to some people... Who cares about them? Does it really matter whom the writer is actually dedicating his or her book? The answer is actually yes, very important. Let's explore what's behind the dedication in books and why we, the readers, need it.

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Silent Gloomy Autumn: 10 Books with November Vibe

30 Nov 2021

The autumn days sometimes feel awfully long and dragging, but they're coming to an end too, which means it's time to close the autumn gestalt. How? Let us offer you books, the universal solution to all problems, the answer to all questions. And before you get swept up in the New Year spirit, here are 10 books with an incredible autumn mood, sometimes as dark and mysterious as our November articles, and sometimes as cosy and heartwarming as a library reading room.

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Birds, Jealousy, Rear Window: 7 Books that Inspired Alfred Hitchcock

23 Nov 2021

Even if you've spent the last 100 years in a coma and haven't seen any of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, you've probably at least heard of his iconic ones. A master of the psychological thriller, superb at building suspense in every frame and at the same time working beautifully with comedy. Every movie is a timeless classic! However, many of his films are based on equally excellent books, which are certainly worthy of your attention. Now, Alfred Hitchcock presents.

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A Literary History of Witches: From the Greeks to Harry Potter

18 Nov 2021

People have always been attracted to the forbidden, the mysterious, the incomprehensible – in a word, magic and fairy tales of all kinds. What is an integral part of them? Witches. Surely, you've heard at least once from your family about the evil-looking old lady in the neighbourhood; or perhaps you suspect your elderly neighbour of having an otherworldly connection yourself? Anyway, the image of the witch has long ceased to be just a purely vernacular scare story..., turning into a written one. How did the history of literary witches begin and how did it end? Get out the cauldrons and cat familiars: it's time to understand the history of book witchcraft.

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Belarusian Horror Stories: from Mara to the Ghost of the Red Swamps

11 Nov 2021

Who lives in a pitch-black house, in a pitch-black room, in a pitch-black corner? Modern kids are not so easy to scare – Google says that boogeymen do not exist, a gray wolf will not come, and Baba Yaga is a thing of the past. For our grandparents, on the other hand, the world was a much darker, fairytale-like place, with all sorts of childhood scares that seemed very realistic. Let's skip all the stories about khatniks! Folklore collections contain stories of creepy creatures that are bloody thrilling to read. Prepare to be frightened: you're in for a real Belarusian horror story, and it has a woman's face.

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Toaster-Criminal: the Most Uncommon Murder Weapons in Literature

21 Oct 2021

Every crime story enthusiast knows: the key to solving a murder is the murder weapon. Brave detectives are the first to rush out to find it. Carving knives, hunting rifles, all sorts of ropes and arsenic are familiar and common ways of killing a literary hero. But the authors' imagination is limitless and unpredictable! So, watch your heads and your backs: 11 of the most unconventional instruments of crime await you.

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Trains in Literature: Time, Blood and Detective Love

28 Sep 2021

Do you like trains? Rhythmic sound of the wheels, rapidly changing landscapes, occasional travelling companions and aluminium cup holders... Writers are crazy about this kind of road romance. Trains are responsible for a fair share of all criminal incidents in detective stories and fateful encounters in romance novels. What makes this type of transport so appealing and what is it all about? Let's look into it.

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Sustained Silent Reading: How to Stop Being Afraid and Teach Children to Love Literature

10 Sep 2021

To you, an accomplished book lover, it may seem that the new generation is lost to culture. They don't read anything other than social media posts. This is terrible – mainly because it is not true. However, it is true that getting children to read is becoming harder and harder. What can be done about it? First, take your child to the Children's Room classes in the National Library. Second, recall experiences from the past. Take, for example, an interesting practice from the US school curriculum, which in the distant 1960s distracted children from televisions and put them back on the proper path of book lovers.

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Tove Jansson: Love, War and the Moomins

7 Sep 2021

“It must have been late in the afternoon one day at the end of August...” – this is the beginning of one of the iconic series of books, on which three generations of children have grown up around the world. Little white Moomintroll, his mom and dad, Sniff, Snufkin and other inhabitants of the Moominvalley have become the hallmark of Finland, and their creator Tove Jansson has become a real sorceress. But do you know how the Moomins actually came to be? Today we will dive into the fairy tale, and into the story of real perseverance, inspiration and a sincere desire to create.

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"No, Thanks": 12 Rejection Letters to Famous Writers

3 Sep 2021

Not everything works out right away. Yes, even for the most talented, smart, famous and assertive people. It didn't work right on the first try even for your favourite writer. Before his or her book was on the bookshelves (and in your heart), surely it went a long way of editing, agreeing, and... rejections. Today we will take a look at a few letters from publishers that almost robbed us of great writings.

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7 Reasons to Read "Kultura" Newspaper Archive

27 Aug 2021

Think about this: when was the last time you read a newspaper? Quite long ago, right? I suppose you don't even remember how to hold large-format editions in your hands. Now we learn the news mainly on the Internet, while newspapers and magazines are rather rare and you don’t read them regularly. Thirty years ago, however, things were completely different. As we approach the anniversary of "Kultura", we invite you to take a look at its early issues (and visit our Periodicals Reading Room, of course). It would be a great chance to experience the cultural life of the 1990s and the spirit of a true Belarusian renaissance.

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Almonds, Vanilla, Aging: What Books Smell Like and Why We Like it so Much

24 Aug 2021

Be honest: you love the smell of books, too. We all have at least once buried our faces in a newly bought book, which smells of printing ink and a new story, or in an old, shabby book, which smells of dust and pleasant memories. The smell of paper books is so fascinating that perfumers are desperately trying to replicate it. Why do we like it so much? What do books really smell like? Take a deep breath: now we'll get to the bottom of this.

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Brest, Ovid and Printing Presses: How to Buy a Book, if you Live in the 16th Century.

18 Aug 2021

What do you think was the turning point in the entire history of publishing and reading as such? The invention of the printing press is the first thing that comes to mind. But what did actually change in book life with the emergence of printing houses – not now, but then? Has it changed at all? Let's take a brief tour of the past and see what it was like to be a book lover…. Let's say, in Brest of the 1580s. What they read, what the bindings looked like, and how much book cost – nothing will be left out.

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8 Mark Twain Quotes he... Never Said

12 Aug 2021

Mark Twain is one of the funniest, wittiest, most intelligent and misquoted writers in history. Probably few people were misinterpreted as cruelly as Twain. Omissions, typos, misappropriation... And yet we have relied so much on his sayings! What is there to trust now? Now let's figure out which of his quotes was real, and which was a misunderstanding.

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Buzz and Radiance: Why Antiquity was Thrilled about Cicadas and What it all Means

4 Aug 2021

Hot summer nights bring coolness, but not silence: as soon as you open the window, you can immediately hear absolutely everything, from someone's verbal battles to the hum of flying beetles. We fall asleep to the grasshoppers singing or stay awake, as luck would have it. In hotter countries, it is quite a disaster: there are cicadas, noisy, shrill, buzzing from dusk till dawn. But why were the ancient Greeks so thrilled about them that they even wrote poems in honour of cicadas? Let's figure it out: this is more interesting than it seems at first glance.

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My Reading List: Why Sharing It and What's the Big Deal

28 Jul 2021

In the era of the Internet, our entire life is in plain sight. Travel photos, social media emotional outpourings, notes on hobbies and favourite films as well as books are quickly becoming public. What makes us keep a reading diary? The itch to show off, the desire for self-assertion, or just the thirst for self-expression? Let's sort it out – in lists, books and ourselves.

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Garden Magic: How Cicely Mary Barker and the Flower Fairies Changed Book Illustration

23 Jul 2021

Have you ever noticed how good illustrations are in children's books? How light, gentle, pretty to look at, – sheer pleasure... We do not take them seriously at all, though. After all, illustrations are for children, which means there are lots of simplifications, conventions and no depth, right? Nope. Book illustration can be serious, accurate, and even quite scientific without losing its magic. Today we will talk about Cicely Mary Barker, the real queen of the flower fairies.

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Events

Diversity of Languages: The Great Achievement of Humanity

19 Jan 2022

From 19 January to 22 February, a thematic exhibition Diversity of Languages: The Great Achievement of Humanity, dedicated to the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022–2032) is on display in the International Organizations Documents Reading Room (Room 207g).