Archive for May, 2007

It’s Raining Books, Hallelujah!

The Book Fairy has been hanging around my house lately, waving her magic wand and making books appear in my mailbox. It’s like Christmas, only booky, and really hot outside! (Well, except for today, which is rainy.)

First, my Buddy Rabbit (hee hee, I came up with a new goofy nickname for you!) sent me Kelley Armstrong’s Stolen, the sequel to Bitten. I haven’t yet read the first one; at first I was holding off because I was fiddling around with a piece of werewolf fiction and didn’t want to taint myself, and then I got into a heavy work and school load and had to heavily curtail my pleasure reading. Anyway, I was so excited to get book #2 that I had to physically restrain myself from starting book #1.

Then, over the weekend, book #3 showed up. Broken, in which – the back cover reveals – the world’s only known female werewolf discovers she is pregnant. Buddy Rabbit, you are the devil herself! I don’t know how much longer I can resist the lure of this juicy trio of paperback goodness.:)

(Am I the only person who finds the cover art on the first two books really amusing? How much is that illustrator getting paid, anyway?)

Those who know and love me know that I’m a sucker for that particular vein of fantasy (currently quite popular, to my eternal downfall) that combines strong women, sexy mythologically-inspired costars, mystery, and humor – the Charlaine Harris/Katie MacAlister/Kelley Armstrong sort of books. Total crack – SO much fun, so (hypothetically) bad for me. And did you know that Katie has a blog? I haven’t yet figured out the first thing to say to her, but I love knowing that the person who created the devestatingly addictive Aisling Grey books is a real person with a (gasp) Livejournal. 🙂

The fun didn’t stop there. This morning as I was leaving for work, I noticed a nondescript manila envelope on the mantle, postmarked from Virginia. I promised myself I’d wait until my lunch break to open it, but my resolve proved weak. Jackie of TJBookArts (and the Book Arts Forum, which you should TOTALLY join if you make books or are interested in doing so) sent me a fascinating book: The Bookbinder in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg: An Account of his Life & Times, & of his Craft. I can’t wait to sit down with it… it’s only 32 pages long, so it actually might get read before July. No promises, though – I’ve got seven weeks left in which to master educational psychology and classroom management… whoo hoo!

UPDATE: ::Squee!:: Did anyone around here know that Emma Bull had a blog? You did? And you didn’t tell me? Shame on you.

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May 21, 2007 at 9:24 am 1 comment

Thursday Things

Other than thinking about my travel journal challenge entry (or entries?) and reading other peoples’ blogs, I haven’t had hardly any time to do anything bookly. For the next eight weeks – well, a little over seven, now – I’m going straight from work to class. I’m taking an educational psychology course for three weeks, followed by a curriculum and classroom management course for five weeks. Hooray for the whirlwind graduate program! This is leaving me very little time to read anything other than textbooks, and even less time to write or make anything.

So… I hope you’ll forgive me if I post a third entry in a row with just links and stuff. Many thanks to Neatorama, How About Orange (who wins my Favorite Blog Name Award), and Cuteable.

If you like robots, monsters, and/or art, and would like to donate to a good cause, you might look into Joe Alterio’s project. You provide him with three descriptors (mundane as color or abstract as you’d like) and a donation, and he’ll send you a 6″x6″ piece of original art depicting a robot or monster (your choice) bearing those characteristics. Proceeds support the San Francisco AIDS Marathon this July.

Speaking of robots… here’s another thing that makes my inner (oh, who do I think I’m fooling?) grrlgeek swoon.

I love what designers are doing with bookshelves these days. This skyline shelf probably wouldn’t look nearly as cool with books on it (well, it would be cool in a different way) but it’s still pretty fantastic.

I’ve really been thinking about the different things a person could use to make a book. I’m textile-impaired, fabric challenged if you prefer, so I’m constantly on the lookout for alternatives. Teesha Moore doesn’t have that problem – check out her amazing fabric journal! Color me jealous…

Sorry, kids, it’s not magic: how an Etch-a-Sketch works.

I’ve been invited to the Facebook, Xanga, and MySpace groups called “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar,” which is sad because I don’t, except if you say “funner,” which automatically puts you on my “person of questionable moral fiber” list. (If you’re an educator or, God forbid, someone who studied English, you get an automatic notation on the Red Crayon List.) Anyway, they’ve got some fun swag in three different styles. I like the first one.

Eduardo Recife has some beautiful freeware typefaces that I’m eager to play with in future bookworks…

It’s things like these adorable biplane spoons that really make me wish I had a baby. RIGHT NOW.

It must have been amazing to live in a time and place when random people owned lions and kept them in public places.

Of course, if I didn’t live in THIS time and place, I wouldn’t have the option of a really snazzy looking electric bicycle for my commute. Anyone want to give me $1,500 for a bike? As Hank Green of EcoGeek (and Brotherhood 2.0, which I love – go nerdfighters!) points out, that’s not bad for a new car.

Fun craft projects for people who have more time than I do: small paper boxes, decorative envelopes, and pinwheels (my husband NEEEEEEEEEEDS one!). There’s also this website with its beautiful little origami projects. I’m utterly fascinated by origami, and utterly hopeless at it. The byline for this site is “Origami Designed to Be Better” – maybe that means it isn’t so impossible to figure out!

These remind me of my Sock Creatures book (I’m determined to make them some day!), which in turn remind me of Uglydolls (I love Icebat). There’s something very endearing about stuffed animal monsters. Don’t like the ones with the wrong number of eyeballs as much, though.

And finally – and we’re burying this at the end because it’s the coolest thing ever and I don’t want to share because I want to be the only cool person on the block who does this – let’s talk about customizable Kleenex boxes. Oh yeah. You heard me right. DESIGN YOUR OWN KLEENEX BOXES.

May 17, 2007 at 6:52 am 3 comments

Cute

It’s a reading light. Ack. The sheer cuteness of it all is totally overwhelming.

It gets better: this little light comes in blue and orange. Well, and translucent, but that’s basically white. It’s like they designed this light just for me. 🙂

It’s not, despite appearances, a book light – it’s six inches tall and five inches wide, too large to prop on a book IMHO. But wouldn’t it be cute on a bookshelf? Or next to your favorite reading chair? Of course, you’d have to resist the urge (or not) to name the little fella…

So if you’ve got $44 sitting around and want to blow it on me – and on something I totally don’t need – you can find this here. Shopmodi has a lot of really cool things, I recommend it…

Another cute thing:

May 15, 2007 at 8:16 pm 1 comment

Friday Fun

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably like books. And if you’re a typical person, you probably need clocks. Why not, then, have the best of both worlds by combining the two? And if that’s too bland or minimalist for your decor, it comes in cheerier shades as well.

Next time you need a notebook or a pen, I’ve got some recommendations for you. I actually own that pen, and love it. Great for fidgeting.

How geek (in an awesome way) would it be to own a hard drive solely dedicated to The New Yorker magazine’s entire archives? It’s on sale! (Although I really can’t imagine it… when it comes to magazines, I’m totally a print-edition gal. How else do you read them back-to-front and make your husband crazy?)

Things like this personal library kit always look appealing to me, but I know I’d never use them. For one thing, what would any self-respecting bibliophile do with thirty book pockets? That wouldn’t even take care of one shelf!

These really do smell good. The cherry one is particulary nice.

When you’re just too lazy (or busy communing with your books) to be impatient your own self…

I’ve always liked this style of bookmarks, and this website has one for every taste. They even do custom hookmarks – what I wouldn’t give to have an excuse to make custom bookmarks like these!

For the really smart woman in your life – oops, and there’s an expansion pack!

I’m a music person in addition to a biblioperson, so I was pleased to see this kit for inspired music composition. Not especially practical, but a beautiful gift. This, in the other hand, is eminently practical.

I could almost like this product, but the first sentence of the description just turned me off. Yargh!

May 11, 2007 at 6:11 am Leave a comment

Ten Books

classroom edition

Well, I finished my classroom edition. Ten copies of Chains, each weighing over half a pound, each 5.5″x4.25″, each painstakingly hand-bound. (The “painstaking” part of that sentence is completely literal – my triceps and forearms still haven’t forgiven me.)

title page

Chains is a book about emotional abuse. Over a third of all women who have had serious relationships have been the victim of emotional abuse (obviously men are victims as well, but most available statistics deal with women in heterosexual relationships).

7

It’s a nasty thing. Because there are no outward physical signs, it can be very easy to ignore or dismiss emotional abuse – to believe that it’s all in your head, or your own fault, or “not so bad.” The problem is, it is so bad. It does seriously bad things to your mental health, is a major predictor of future physical abuse, and is a major warning sign for murder and murder-suicide.

9

This book is about the chains of abuse that bind us, and the chains we bind around ourselves under the mistaken assumption that we are in a loving relationship. It’s also about the chains we lock around that part of our lives so that we don’t have to think about it or talk about it.  

12

Chains is difficult to open, reflecting on how hard it can be to open up about abuse, and once you’ve got it undone, the chains make it hard to handle – just as we can find it difficult to get a grip on our feelings as we try to process them in the aftermath of an abusive relationship. Finally, once you’ve got Chains open, it is difficult to close back up – a reminder that we shouldn’t try to lock up these things inside us but should expose them to the light so that they can heal and help others.

detail

I’ve decided that multiple editions are the devil. It took me so long to do all of these. On the other hand, there’s something deeply satisfying about having an entire little stack of the same book – being your own publishing house. I am so impressed with “real” book artists who do editions in excess of a hundred books… how do they do it? I guess maybe once you’re good at this it becomes like knitting, and you can do it more automatically. That, or they use slave labor.

cat

Chains is a multiple-signature book with medium-weight hard boards covered in heavy textured paper (I’d categorize the paper as handmade, but that would be deceptive as I purchased it… somebody had to make this stuff by hand, though) and tied shut with metal chain. The pages are printed on Astrobrite paper using Pharmacy typeface and graphics adapted from a Photoshop brush by Obsidian Dawn. The text block’s design is inspired by the zine aesthetic. And yes, I used tacky glue – I experimented with a lot of different kinds of glue, and Aileen’s worked best with this paper.

May 9, 2007 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

Anderson’s Grimoire – in 3D!

My Defense Against the Book Arts professor is in the process of building what may be the first 3D website in teh intrawebs. Yes, that’s 3D as in blue-and-red goggles and nasty headaches. He rigged up a 3D camera and took our pictures with our Donkey Man books so that they could be the first content on the site.

Yesterday I received the following press release:

TALE OF THE “DONKEY MAN” POPS OUT OF BOISE STATE BOOK ARTS CLASS*
WORKS WITH HELP OF 3-D GLASSES

Boise State University professor Tom Trusky is inviting the public to learn a little bit more about Pacific Northwest history and enjoy the works created by his book arts class – all in 3-D.

Visitors to Trusky*s Web site (English.boisestate.edu/ttrusky/index.htm) will be able to see the class project with the help of 3-D glasses, which can be obtained by calling (208) 426-4210 or by e-mailing Trusky. The students were asked to create a book that dealt with the story of the “Donkey Man,” J.
Fred Anderson, a photographer who worked in northern Idaho and eastern Washington at the turn of the 20th century.

Anderson found a suffering, abandoned donkey in Lewiston and nursed it back to health, later enlisting the donkey to carry his chemicals and other photography equipment. Anderson would travel from town to town,
often taking photos taking photos of children riding the donkey and wearing costumes, as well as portraits of American Indians in the region. He married a young woman that his family later referred to as
“The Child Bride,” according to Anderson*s son, Howard. The Child Bride ran off, and Anderson eventually married again and fathered Howard Anderson and a daughter. After being mistreated by his father, 17-year-old Howard ran away from his parents and Idaho, never to return.

The book arts class was tasked with using some part of the story in a creative way. Some of the creations deal with Anderson’s camera, or are told from the point of view of The Child Bride.

3-D enthusiasts have another opportunity to use their special glasses by visiting the Idaho Center for the Book*s Web site at http://www.lili.org/icb/. Trusky worked with Kathy Robinson at Boise State Printing and Graphics Services to turn his photos into 3-D creations.

“I only regret that the glasses are red and blue instead of blue and orange,” he said.

-30-

Contact: Tom Trusky, English, (208) 426-1999, ttrusky@boisestate.edu
Media Contact: Julie Hahn, University Communications, (208) 426-5540, juliehahn@boisestate.edu

In addition to 3D images of book artists in all their artisty splendor, the website includes the following description of Anderson’s Grimoire:

6 x 5 1/2″ (irregular; spine “wand” 12″)
“Corset-stitch” sewn
Numerous artifacts (photographs, feathers, broken spectacles, lavender, a key, a nail…)
24 pp.

From information about J. Frederick Anderson Kate Baker has created a “Grimoire,” a witty, twisted homage to fairytales by not only imagined-distant-relative Hans Christian Anderson but also those German brothers Grimm. Baker was told this tale, she tells us, by Howard Anderson, son of J. Frederick Anderson. She cleverly includes faux facts, artifacts and photographs with real Anderson facts and photos in a bursting, suede paper-covered book held almost-closed by a band of beaded jute. In Baker’s biblio witches brew, Anderson senior is a malevolent magician given to fits of pique. In one of them, he turns Howard’s mother into a pooch. Proof’s not in the pudding, but in the photo Baker inserts at this point in the narrative she’s typed (on an antique machine known as electric typewriter): we see JFA’s Victorian-style photograph of son Howard, his drowsy, unsuspecting Little Lord Fauntleroy head resting on the family dog. But Baker’s told us who that woof once was….

May 9, 2007 at 11:02 am Leave a comment

Review: Old School

I was right – this book was great. Tobias Wolff has redeemed himself. Unfortunately, I’ve been having the hardest time writing this review, so now I’m going to be the one in the position of having to redeem myself with my next piece… 🙂

Old School feels like a memoir – a remembrance of a life that inspired any number of classic works of film and literature. There are tones of Catcher in the Rye, Dead Poets’ Society, and The Emperor’s Club in this book, but it reads as an original nonetheless. It’s the story of a boy at a boarding school during the Kennedy Administration, happily soaking up an atmosphere of intellectualism and creativity. It’s also a story about writing, and becoming a writer – and becoming a man, and figuring out integrity.

The nice thing about this (and I won’t go into too many details, lest I spoil the book for you) is that Wolff declines to follow the traditional coming-of-age story template. Yes, this is a story about morality – but instead of showing the main character learning about Right and Wrong, it shows the main character learning that there are shades of gray and degrees of Rightness and Wrongness. Old School is a nuanced, mature coming-of-age story, and one that I imagine a lot of smart people can relate to. (Ooo! Preposition-ended-sentence alert!)

It’s also a book about class, pretension, and conformity; inspiration, idealism, and the power of the written word.

Wolff casts real-life authors as cameos of themselves. Ayn Rand stops by and is the unwitting messenger of what appears to be Wolff’s scathing denouncement of her philosophy. Robert Frost waltzes through and receives kinder treatment. And then there’s the sketch of Hemingway, near the end of his life, a sick man drawn with honesty – and yet, a dose of compassion as well. Each is the center of a yearly writing competition, and we watch as the main character strives to win a coveted audience with the renowned authors.

I’m not sure what it is about this book that most appeals to me. I harbor a deep fascination for boarding schools, and I’m sure that’s a part of it. (I mean, yeah, Harry Potter is a terrific read – but my favorite character is, hands-down, Hogwarts. Just one more reason why I’m dreading Book 7.) Old School is designed to appeal to writers and people who like to think about writers and writing, so I guess that’s another element of its attraction. On top of these things, though, is the fact that it’s just a good read. It’s well-written, just the right length and depth for a weekend read (confession: I stayed up late and finished this book in one night), intelligent without being inaccessible, and multi-layered without losing clarity. Well done, Mr. Wolff.

May 8, 2007 at 2:26 pm 2 comments

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