Page 1. " What about a teakettle? "


Creative Commons AttributionTeapot - Credit: Janek Mann

This link takes you to a recording of Safran Foer reading the first pages of the novel.


Page 1. " maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of Yellow Submarine, "

Yellow Submarine (1966) was one the biggest hits of the 60's pop sensation group The Beatles. The single can be found on the full length album Yellow Submarine, which is itself the soundtrack to the 1968 film "Yellow Submarine". The track was composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and the lead vocals are by Ringo Starr.

Sculpture of Yellow Submarine at Chavasse Park, Liverpool.
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSculpture of Yellow Submarine at Chavasse Park, Liverpool. - Credit: Benkid77


Page 1. " if I ever made an incredibly bad fart in the Hall of Mirrors "

A total of 357 mirrors were used to decorate the famous Gallerie des glaces in King Louis XIV's palace in Versailles, France.

The unification of Germany was declared by Otto von Bismarck in this room in 1871, and the 1918 Treaty of Versailles was signed here.

An incredible 360-degree panoramic view


Page 2. " My first jujitsu class "

Jujitsu means 'art of softness' and it encompasses a range of Japanese martial arts. While in the West sensei is taken to mean a judo or karate instructor, in Japan it has the more general meaning of teacher, master or doctor.


Page 2. " I desperately wish I had my tambourine with me now "
Tambourine Carnival
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTambourine Carnival - Credit: Toast to Life / Brian Lin

A tambourine is a percussion instrument comprising a shallow frame drum attached to bells or cymbals which jingle as it is played. These bells are called zils. The word 'tambourine' comes from the Persian tambur, or drum. The tambourine is used in folk music all around the world, though its design varies.

The tambourine gained notoreity in recent decades through Bob Dylan's Mr Tambourine Man, featured on his 1965 album Bring it all Back Home.  The Byrds also covered the song, and unlike Dylan they used a tambourine: Listen on Spotify.



Page 3. " The Flight of the Bumblebee "

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote the manically fast Flight of the Bumblebee for his opera The Tale of Tsar Tsaltan. The piece accompanies a scene where a magical bird changes a prince into an insect so he can fly away:

SWAN-BIRD: Well, now, my bumblebee, go on a spree, catch up with the ship on the sea, go down secretly, get into a crack a little distance away.  Good luck, Gvidon, fly, only do not stay long!      (The bumblebee flies away.)

Listen on Spotify

The piece has been interpreted on a number of instruments:


Page 3. " I asked if it would have Zildjian cymbals "

Zildjian Cymbals
Creative Commons AttributionZildjian Cymbals - Credit:, Flickr
Zildjian cymbals are made by the Avedis Zildjian Company, one of the oldest companies in the world.

The company was founded in Istanbul during the time of the Ottoman Empire.  The first Zildjian cymbals were created by an alchemist in 1693 who, in his quest to turn base metal into gold, created a tin-silver alloy that could make musical sounds without shattering. 


Page 11. " My favorite book is A Brief History of Time "

Stephen Hawking is one the most celebrated - and popularly recognised - physicists alive today. He also has a claim to being one of the most influential physicists to have ever lived.



Hawking's works focuses primarily on cosmology and quantum gravity. He became famous outside of academia on the publication of A Brief History of Time in 1988. The book deals with cosmology, especially black holes and the Big Bang, and has sold over 9 million copies. When a publisher told Hawking that for each equation printed his readership would halve he removed all but one (e=mc2), replacing them with illustrations to communicate the concepts in his book to a wider public.

Despite these efforts, A Brief History of Time is one of the books most commonly left unfinished by readers.


Page 12. " and sometimes he'd whistle I am the Walrus, "
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Public DomainThe Walrus and the Carpenter - Credit: John Tenniel

John Lennon wrote the 1967 song in response to a letter from a schoolchild at his former grammar school describing how his English teacher made the class analyse Beatles lyrics.  Lennon deliberately made the lyrics as nonsensical as possible.  The walrus is a reference to Lewis Carroll's poem The Walrus and the Carpenter, from his book Through the Looking Glass.

Listen on Spotify: Bono's version


I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly. I'm crying...

The full lyrics  

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— Of cabbages—and kings

The full poem