Google’s ‘Talk to Books’ Search Engine Brings You Answers from over 100,000 Books

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A quick Google search can bring you answers in a matter of moments. Need the recipe for a Shepard’s Pie? No problem. Want to know where the cheapest hotels are in Italy? Here’s a list. The internet has brought endless knowledge to our fingertips, and now a new search engine has been created which can help answer questions that don’t have a definitive answer.

During a TED talk yesterday. author and computer scientist Ray Kurzweil introduced a new search engine called ‘Talk to Books‘, a tool which scans over 100,000 volumes in Google Books and brings users insightful and interesting answers from relevant titles.

Questions can be as simple or as abstract as you like and always bring back a number of interesting and accurate responses. I decided to give the new search engine a go and came back with some very thoughtful answers.

Firstly, I asked “Do aliens exist?” I got many answers in return, including:

“Others, like cosmologist Frank Tipler (1981), are convinced that extraterrestrials do not exist because if they did they would be here by now. Given that there is nothing special about the timing of human evolution, it is fairly likely that if intelligent beings evolved elsewhere, at least half of them would ahead of us in biological evolution, which should put them far, far ahead of us scientifically and technologically, which means they would have found Earth by now.” – Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other … by Michael Shermer, Stephen Jay Gould.

Then I asked: “Why can’t I sleep?” and received an answer which read:

In cases of onset insomnia, a person will lie in bed for what seems to be a very long period but be unable to go to sleep. Stress and anxiety are frequent causes of this type of insomnia. Maintenance insomnia occurs when sleep is frequently interrupted or early waking occurs. From Discovering Psychology: The Science of Mind, Briefer Version by John Cacioppo, Laura Freberg

I decided it was time to throw the engine a real curve ball and so I asked the age old question: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” I was surprised to find even this conundrum was no match for Talk to Books.

“Just how much wood could a woodchuck chuck? I have no idea, but if the varmint had a Facebook account, we’d all know the answer.” from Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans, Susan Bratton.

As Quartz Media reports, Talk to Books is by no means designed to replace your standard Google search, but instead offers a semantics based search with an advanced AI which can understand the nuances of human language. Results are designed to intrigue, inspire, and educate and it’s interesting how answers can be both humorous and profound.

“Semantic search is based on searching meaning, rather than on keywords or phrases” said Kurzweil on his blog. “Developed with machine learning, it uses ‘natural language understanding’ of words and phrases.” He added: “It’s good for exploring ideas, it’s fun just to play with it.”

Talk to Books is certainly a fascinating new tool and is a great way to get a variety of viewpoints on a topic that doesn’t boil down to just one answer. It’s perfect for research and can help bring new ideas and ways of thinking to users in a matter of seconds.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: The Adaptation Trailer is Here

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I wouldn’t say that Gothic fiction is exactly my thing, but I needed a novel of this genre for October’s Cwts Book Club. I trawled through my TBR pile and came across Shirley Jackson’s, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I flew through the book, loving the mystery behind why the two girls, and their uncle are living away from the rest of the world, in their “castle”.

Imagine my delight when only a couple of days after I had finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle, I saw a trailer for the film version, which is released this month, starring Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, and Sebastian Stan . Having watched the trailer, I can honestly say that it appears to follow the book, word for word. I now can’t wait to watch the rest and see Merricat and Constance’s story on the big screen! Read More

Lingerie company to remove ‘Sexy’ Handmaid’s Tale costume

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As Halloween draws near we start thinking of costumes… And how we can tie in our literary heroes to our costume design…

The Handmaid’s Tale has proven to be very popular in recent times, thanks in part to Hulu’s fantastic adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. As has been proven time and time again- if something has entered pop culture then it is fair game for capitalism to sink its claws in.

And so we welcome The Sexy Handmaid Halloween Costume to the Inappropriately Sexy Costume Hall of Fame.

Complete with white cloak and red bonnet, this “Brave Red Maiden” costume was just a bit much for even the kookiest Halloween fans (especially for the steep price of $65) and after a resounding ‘NOPE, THANKS THOUGH’ from customers- lingerie store Yandy pulled the costume within a day of its release.

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The Man Booker Shortlist 2018 is here

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Earlier in the year we brought you the longlist for one of the most coveted prizes in literature, the Man Booker Prize. The longlist is know as the Man Booker Dozen but now that’s been whittled down to the prestigious shortlist, six novels among which is the Man Booker winner 2018.

We have that shortlist here so without further ado here are the books in the running for the 2018 Man Booker prize.

The 2018 winner will be announced on Tuesday 16th October, about a month from now in London’s Guildhall. The winning ceremony will be aired on the BBC and we’ll bring you news of that winner as soon as it breaks!

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Church Leaders Call for Ban on LGBT Books, During Banned Books Week

By | Libraries, Literary Events, News | One Comment
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Established by the American Library Association in 1982, Banned Books Week begins every year on the last week of September. The week celebrates books that have been censored or outright banned over the years and reminds us of the importance of information and freedom of speech, as well as showing us how books can be used tackle difficult or sensitive topics and themes.

To celebrate the week, a library in Rumford, Maine created a display featuring books that have, and continue to be, banned in various parts of the world. As you can imagine, books focusing on the topic of same-sex relationships are heavily censored, and thus the display featured several LGBT books such as Kabi Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and David Lev’s Two Boys Kissing. Both books have been released to great acclaim from critics but also face heavy resistance, with Two Boys Kissing being the fifth most banned book of 2016. Read More

2018 National Book Awards Longlist: Nonfiction

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All this week we’ve been bringing you the longlists for the National Book Awards, courtesy of the New Yorker. We started with fiction, then young people’s literature before covering the translated literature longlist and yesterday poetry. Today it’s time for the final longlist, nonfiction.

There’s no denying it’s been a tumultuous couple of years in the world and lots of people, authors, and artists have shown concern for the future. Those concerns have certainly come through in published works as the nonfiction longlist shows.

And here it is, the ten books selection for the National Book Awards Longlist for Nonfiction.

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George R.R. Martin Thinks ‘Game of Thrones’ Could’ve Run for 13 Seasons

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Game of Thrones is set to air its eighth and final season in the Spring of next year, but the author of the books the show is based on, George R.R. Martin, believes the show could’ve run for as many as 13 seasons.

Whilst speaking with Variety at the Emmy Awards on Monday, Martin said: “We could’ve gone 11, 12, 13 seasons,” He added the decision to end the series was up to the showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Read More



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