Archive for June, 2007

Funny… or sad, one of those two…

“The buying of more books than one can possibly read is the soul’s way of aspiring towards infinity.”

June 21, 2007 at 1:28 pm 4 comments

Good Start to the Week

second_prizeI found out early this morning that I won Second Place in Kimbooktu’s book gadget contest!

I invented a “book cloak” that you can make yourself (follow the link for simple instructions) to hide books you’re embarrassed to be seen reading in public. I never in a million years thought I’d actually win anything, to be honest – some of the other inventions were so funny and outrageous that I thought sure my mundane little gadget would fall by the wayside. But it didn’t, and now it shall forever live in Kimbooktu infamy. 🙂

In addition to a cute trophy graphic, Second Place receives:

When I receive my prizes I’ll take a picture (both for y’all, and at Kimbooktu’s request).

I’m very excited about the prizes, but much more so about creating something that people found interesting and useful. Thank you so much if you voted for me. This really inspires me to keep doing and creating. 🙂

June 18, 2007 at 6:53 am 2 comments

Fishing Diary, Revisited

Lesley left me a comment a few days ago asking for more information about Muriel Fisher’s Fishing Diary, so I took a few pictures to share.

Apparently Muriel was a very interesting, active woman and an avid “fisherwoman.” Throughout her life, she kept a fishing diary. Now, to someone like myself who is not a serious angler, the idea of a fishing diary seems kind of odd. A quick Google Search, however, shows that plenty of people keep detailed and illustrated diaries of their fishing exploits. There’s even fishing diary software you can buy! I suppose it makes sense; if you love to fish, you would want to keep a record of your trips so that you remember the best places, the big catches, and the good times. Really, is it so different from this blog? This is a fishing diary in many ways, only the fish I catch happen to be books…

Anyway, Muriel kept this particular fishing diary for many years, starting in 1913. Each page is filled not only with notes but with lush illustrations of the wildlife, fish, and landscapes Muriel saw while out on the water. It’s a beautiful book even if you have no interest in fishing. She was a talented illustrator.

Years later, Muriel’s grandchild found the diary and decided that it ought to be shared with a broader audience than the family circle. Her efforts led to the creation of a facsimile book, very much similar to Muriel’s original diary. It was published in 1980 and apparently met with sufficient success that it was re-released 16 years later. My copy is the first edition.

The book comes in a nice little box. When I first saw it I thought it was probably some sort of Hallmark gift book.


Inside the box, the volume is bound in leather with a gold-stamped title. Let us all spare a moment in recognition of my wrath at people who put price stickers on nice book covers.


There is an inscription inside the front cover. The purchaser gave it to his (?) fishing buddies as a momento of all the good times they had shared and the good times he hoped to share in the future. I love a good book inscription, and always try to remember to write in the books I give as gifts. They just add that extra bit of story…


One of the most elaborate of the illustrations – practically an illuminsted manuscript – right at the front:


A few more examples of the art and entries:



As time progressed – and we’re talking something like 30 years here – the illustrations become simpler and the handwriting less clear. The totals decrease as well, indicating either lack of vigor in the anglers or evolution of the fishing spots. Muriel’s aging process is visible on the pages, although she rarely refers to any personal details: here, a mention of a friend’s injured leg; there, a brief reference to arthritis.

The back of the book is devoted to tables and illustrations that teach how to weigh and measure a fish.


Really a beautiful book. If you can find a copy – I suspect the 1996 edition is the same as the 1980 – it would make a very nice addition to the library of your favorite angler, naturalist, illustrator, or bibliophile.

June 17, 2007 at 8:25 pm 3 comments

Disturbing Product

I could do without the sound effects, honestly.

It’s a cat butt pencil sharpener! The most unusual pencil sharpener you’ll find on anyone’s desk! Simply stick your pencil into the cats behind, sharpen and hear it meow!


Now available at Perpetual Kid!

June 12, 2007 at 2:47 pm 2 comments





My furbodies: d’Artagnan, Sophie, and Paisley.

June 12, 2007 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

Acquiring Minds

I haven’t had time to do anything, much less blog, but I seized a few moments of retail therapy over the weekend. It wasn’t my fault – we had to go to the library for homeworky purposes on Saturday, which put me in shooting distance of their used book store, and then I had to walk right past the sexy new Borders on Sunday, and what’s a girl to do?

First, the used book extravaganza.

The Book of Three ($3 in hardcover with slipcover) and The Black Cauldron ($2 in paperback), by Lloyd Alexander. Despite different bindings, they’re of a matching edition. I’d like to try to polish off the series.

Fire – Sebastian Junger ($2 in paperback)

Muriel Foster’s Fishing Diary – Muriel Foster ($3 in hardcover with box). Okay, so this was quite the find. It’s a beautiful book, oddly shaped. I was intrigued by it and bought it, thinking it might be a start for a book arts collection. Just now, when I looked it up, I came to realize that I’d purchased for $3 a $176 book. Whoo team used book stores!

Speaking of finds… Collected Poems, Originally Published in Paris, Pirated Edition by Ernest Hemingway, 1960. A little pamphlet. Paid $1. Worth over $80. Whoo!

Quarrels that have Shaped the Constitution – John A. Garraty, ed. ($2 in paperback), A Short History of the United States – Allan Nevins & Henry Steele Commager ($2 hardcover with slipcover), and Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order – Robert Kagan ($3.00 hardcover with slipcover). For husband’s growing political/history library. The latter has a beautifully letterpressed slipcover.

Gods & Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece – Gustav Schwab ($3 in paperback). I remember this being a really good mythology reference… has nice illustrations.

How 2 Write Love Poems that Don’t Suck – C. Weigl ($1.50 in paperback). Okay, it’s silly on the surface – it’s hot pink, for Pete’s sake – but there are some really good tips and exercises in it that I think I might could incorporate in a class at some point in the future. Maybe I’ll share some later.

And finally, what may be my favorite find: an obviously much-loved copy of Burn’s Poems, bound in paper that looks like green alligator skin – or maybe it is alligator skin and it’s just been worn down to this state – with an inscription on the first page: “Ned Thomas, Dec. 25, 1914.” The book falls open to two poems, “Delia” and “Epistle to a Young Friend.” $10.

Then, the Borders trip:

Eleanor and Franklin: The Story of their Relationship based on Eleanor Roosevelt’s Private Papers. Joseph P. Lash, $5.99, hardcover.

H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds. Unabridged… $1.25, paperback.

And finally, my guilty pleasure…

June 11, 2007 at 8:40 pm 1 comment

‘Til You Drop!

More fun eShopping for booklovers, with a huge hat tip to Kimbooktu for leading me to the British Library and Bodleian Library online shops!

First, though: if you’re going to go shopping, you’ll need a good bag for all your purchases.


You have to admire the subtlety of something like these bookends. So obvious, and yet so rarely seen! They’d be practically invisible on the shelf. My only criticism is that they are volumes 1 and 2, but would never be shelved adjacent to one another – a dead giveaway that something was amiss.

If you remember the old Penguin classics, you’ll probably get as much of a kick out of these bags, pencils, and household items

L_Penguin_OrangeBag L_Penguin_Pencils d1_Penguin_TeaTowel_Woolf

I love bookplates, but hate that they come in tiny little expensive packages. Personally, it’s all about buying the package of Avery labels, designing my own plates, and printing them off by the hundred. That doesn’t mean I don’t like a good bookplate when I see one, though…

I think your boss and/or professor would have to have an awfully good sense of humor to risk this particular trick, but they are hilarious. They’re book covers to put over a “regular” book (hey, is my Book Cloak invention being infringed upon? Where’s my patent lawyer?) to make it more… interesting.


This will I send, and something else more plain,
That shall express my true love’s fasting pain…


My husband and I went to Washington D.C. on our honeymoon and toured the National Cathedral. Their gift shop has some beautiful things, including this ring that I just love. Not only do I really like the message, but it is beautifully and practically designed. The inner design spins around so you can read the entire message without rotating the actual ring on your finger.


Speaking of jewelry, I have and love this bracelet. Highly recommended.

When it comes to your love of books, it can be hard to wear your heart on your sleeve while being fashionable. This website has a number of cute shirts and other garments, many of which are definitely aimed at elementary school teachers, but there are some that would appeal to a wider audience. Below, I’ve included two examples; the red one just makes me giggle, so I had to share.

Another site that sells bibliophile-appropriate clothing, but seriously needs a website makeover, is here. They’re worth a visit if only for the possibility of having a shirt imprinted thusly:


And finally, that just screams my name:


An addendum, because you can never have too much flair :

June 4, 2007 at 11:34 am 1 comment

Make your own Book Cloak!

You are a member of the Literati, but admit it: every now and again, you read something “unworthy.” Don’t raise your eyebrow at me – you know what I mean. I know all about your secret stash of Harlequin novels, that row of Stephen King and John Grisham tucked in your closet. I know all about your summer of chick-lit debauchery!

Your secret is safe with me – and I offer you assistance. No longer do you need to tuck bestselling novels inside sterner tomes or use arms, bags, or small children to shield the cover art from the world. I bring you hope, and hope’s name is the Book Cloak.

The Book Cloak is a custom book cover for those books that are simply too embarassing to be read in public. You might expect to pay $10, $20, even $50 for such a pride-saving tool – but no! The Book Cloak, as an open-source craftwork, is completely free to you, minus the cost of materials! You can make it using only materials found around the house (although a trip to the scrapbook store makes it all the more fun to do), and it’s so easy that anyone can do it. To demonstrate the ease of Book Cloak construction, I did my demo on a camping trip without the benefit of any specialty bookbinding tools.

The following instructions are for a standard mass-market paperback. However, they can be easily amended for any size book simply by using larger paper, or an additional sheet.

Supplies: two sheets of 12″x12″ heavy paper in contrasting colors; one sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardstock in a complementary shade; ribbon to match; acid-free adhesive (rubber cement works well), craft tape or acid-free masking tape

Tools: ruler, scissors (or craft knife and straight edge), pencil, hole punch

Step 1. Identify an embarrassing book. If it makes English majors turn green or sixth-grade boys faint, you’ve found the right book. Measure its dimensions (width, height, and depth).

Step 2. Take one sheet of 12″x12″ paper. From it, cut two rectangles at least two inches (5 cm) taller and one inch (2.5 cm) wider than your book. (If you have enough paper, cut the rectangles four inches [10 cm] taller and two inches [5 cm] wider.) These are the cover sheets. Make one rectangle, of the same size, from the contrasting sheet of paper. This is the spine sheet.

Step 3. Slip one of the cover sheets inside the front cover of your book and center it lengthwise. Mark where the edges of the cover hit the paper. Remove the paper and fold the top and bottom in at the marks. Crease sharply with your thumbnail or a bonefolder.

Step 4. Repeat with all three rectangles.

Step 5. Trim the spine sheet so that it is 3″ (about 7.5 cm) wider than the depth measurement of your paperback. If it is printed on one side, turn it over so you are facing the reverse. Center the paperback’s spine on the rectangle and mark about 3 mm beyond where the edges hit (so that the marked area is slightly wider than the paperback’s spine). The marks should go from the edge of the paper to the crease of the fold.

Step 6. Cut along the marks, and fold down the tabs. This will reinforce the edges of your Book Cloak. This narrower part of the spine sheet is the actual spine.

Step 7. Turn over all rectangles so that you are looking at their backsides. Line up the cover sheets so that they butt up against the spine. Make sure all edges are straight, and glue the three sheets together. Allow to dry.

Step 8. Fold this new larger sheet at the spine’s edge on both sides and crease gently. Slip the paperback in, being careful to line it up at the spine, and wrap the front coversheet around the cover. Mark where the edge of the cover hits the paper, and fold the paper at that point. Crease sharply. Repeat with the back cover.

Step 9. Find the point where the two creases meet on each of the cover sheet corners. This is the pivot point. Miter the edges by folding the corners in at a 45 degree angle at the pivot point. Crease sharply. Repeat for all four corners.

Step 10 (Optional). If you would like to add handles to your book, punch two holes in each side as shown. The creased edge should bisect the holes, which should be about 3″ (7.5 cm) apart. You will have a total of four holes, two on the front and two on the back. If you do not want handles, skip steps 10-11.

Step 11 (Optional). For a standard paperback, cut a length of ribbon approximately one meter in length. Thread it through the holes so that there are loops on the outside of the cover. Tie the ribbon’s ends together (make sure that the knot is one that will hold). The flatter the knot, the better.

Step 12. Take a piece of heavy crafting tape or masking tape and cut it to just shorter than the height of your book. Place it on the backside of the spine, over the tabs and ribbon, if applicable. This reinforces the spine.

Step 13. Set the paperback inside and slip the front cover under the corner flaps. Fold down the top, bottom, and side folds so that they make neat edges. Glue the folds down. (If you want the Book Cloak to be removable, only glue cover paper to cover paper – not to the actual book!) Repeat for the back cover. Put pressure on the glued spots and allow to dry.

Step 14 (Optional, but Recommended). It is recommended that the Book Cloak be attached permanently to the book, as it is custom-measured to that particular copy, but if you want it to be removable, skip this step. Take the sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardstock and cut from it two rectangles, approximately 2 cm shorter and 1 cm narrower than the paperback. This is your endpaper. Slip it inside the front cover, center it, and paste it down, making sure to glue it to the Book Cloak paper and to the inside cover of the paperback. This will keep your Book Cloak firmly on the paperback, and adds that final touch of class.

The Final Product! Once the glue dries, your Book Cloak is completed! If you added ribbon, you can carry it like a handbag, or tie the handles together to hold your book closed.

Make a matching bookmark from your scraps.

Finally, with the Book Cloak, you can read what you’d like with impunity.

Created as an entry for the Kimbooktu Reading Gadget Contest. Wish me luck! And if you make a Book Cloak, I’d love to see a picture. Comment with a link, or email me at

June 4, 2007 at 10:38 am 1 comment

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June 2007