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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about. Ask me anything you can't Google.



Posts tagged "books"

Aug 22, 2014
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Short was good in a book.
— Charles Portis, Gringos

Jul 29, 2014
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Any book has behind it all the other books that have been written.

Jul 17, 2014
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Why doesn’t the Kindle screensaver default to the cover of the book you’re currently reading?

distorte:


  I don’t understand why the [Kindle’s] screensaver is not the cover of the book currently being read. Instead we get a selection of bland stock imagery in an era when bland stock imagery is almost mainstream in its unpopularity. And the device, whenever it is sitting on your coffee table or drawn from your bag, is displaying these meaningless, artless images. They are not incidental or occasional, but the primary visual identity of the object at rest. A real book is a visual placeholder in your life as you read it, a cover and content that become entwined as you go. For all its unread hours of the day it announces itself from your bedside table, from your couch. Its presence is a mental bookmark, its individuality a mental trigger. The Kindle is a ten minute coding job away from replicating this relationship, but it simply doesn’t want to. I’m not sure why. Are we meant to love the device, rather than the books it contains? Is that too obvious a suspicion?


Excellent thoughts on experiencing the Kindle for the first time. (via)

Why doesn’t the Kindle screensaver default to the cover of the book you’re currently reading?

distorte:

I don’t understand why the [Kindle’s] screensaver is not the cover of the book currently being read. Instead we get a selection of bland stock imagery in an era when bland stock imagery is almost mainstream in its unpopularity. And the device, whenever it is sitting on your coffee table or drawn from your bag, is displaying these meaningless, artless images. They are not incidental or occasional, but the primary visual identity of the object at rest. A real book is a visual placeholder in your life as you read it, a cover and content that become entwined as you go. For all its unread hours of the day it announces itself from your bedside table, from your couch. Its presence is a mental bookmark, its individuality a mental trigger. The Kindle is a ten minute coding job away from replicating this relationship, but it simply doesn’t want to. I’m not sure why. Are we meant to love the device, rather than the books it contains? Is that too obvious a suspicion?

Excellent thoughts on experiencing the Kindle for the first time. (via)

Jul 02, 2014
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The Electric Information Age Book: McLuhan/Agel/Fiore and the Experimental Paperback

A history of the context in which classics such as The Medium Is The Massage and I Seem To Be A Verb were spawned. (More over at Brain Pickings.) Recommended to me by Frank Chimero.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Jun 14, 2014
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I Seem To Be A Verb by R. Buckminster Fuller

From Print:

I Seem To Be a Verb focuses on what’s now known as “sustainable design.” The book is a collage of images, bite-size facts, and provocative, inspirational notions by an expanse of artists, musicians, astrophysicists, mathematicians, politicians, and others… which is why my copy’s pages came to fall out of their binding over the past 40-plus years. Fuller himself provides the main narrative, which includes his philosophies—such as “When man learned to do more with less it was his lever to industrial success”—his predictions, such as “When automation frees all workers we will be able to ask, ‘What was it I was thinking that fascinated me so, before I was told I had to do something else in order to make a living?’” And, yes, it’s also a time capsule of 1960s utopian idealism.

Here’s Steven Heller on the designer, Quentin Fiore:

Fiore, who was born in New York in 1920, had been a student of George Grosz (like Paul Rand) at the Art Student’s League and Hans Hoffman at the Hoffman School. His interest in classical drawing, paper making, and lettering attested to a respect for tradition. He began his career before World War II as a letterer for, among others, Lester Beall (for whom he designed many of the modern display letters used in his ads and brochures before modern typefaces became widely available in the U.S.), Condé Nast, Life, and other magazines (where he did hand-lettered headlines for editorial and advertising pages). Fiore abandoned lettering to become a generalist and for many years designed all the printed matter for the Ford Foundation in a decidedly modern but not rigidly ideological style. Since he was interested in the clear presentation of information, he was well suited as a design consultant to various university presses, and later to Bell Laboratories (for whom he designed the numbers on one of Henry Dreyfuss’ rotary dials). In the late 1960s he also worked on Homefax, a very early telephone fax machine developed by RCA and NBC. It was never marketed, but Fiore coordinated an electronic newspaper that would appear on a screen and be reproduced via a sophisticated electrostatic copying process.

Fiore’s acute understanding of technology came from this and other experiences. In an article he wrote in 1971 on the future of the book, Fiore predicted the widespread use of computer-generated design, talking computers, and home fax and photocopy technologies. He also predicted the applications of the computer in primary school education long before its widespread use; accordingly, in 1968 he designed 200 computerlike “interactive” books for school children to help increase literacy skills.

See also: The Medium is the Massage

Jun 09, 2014
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Napoleon’s traveling library

From the Sacramento Daily Union, 6 June 1885:

Many of Napoleon’s biographers have incidentally mentioned that he […] used to carry about a certain number of favorite books wherever he went, whether traveling or camping; but it is not generally known that he made several plans for the construction of portable libraries which were to form part of his baggage. Some interesting information upon this head is given us by M. Louis Barbier, who for many years had the care of the Louvre Library, and who bases his information upon sonic memoirs left by his father, who was librarian to Napoleon himself. For a long time Napoleon used to carry about the books he required in several boxes holding about sixty volumes each. These volumes, which were either octavo or duodecimo, stood upon shelves inside the boxes, which were supplied by the well-known cabinetmaker, Jacob. They were made of mahogany at first, but as it was found that this was not strong enough for the knocking about they had to sustain, M. Barbier bad them made of oak and covered with leather. The inside was lined with green leather or velvet, and the books were bound in morocco. There was a catalogue for each case, with a corresponding number upon every volume, so that there was never a moment’s delay in picking out any book that was wanted. As soon as the Emperor had selected his headquarters during a campaign these cases were placed in the room which was intended to be his study, together with the portfolios containing his letters and maps. In course of time, however, Napoleon found that many books which he wanted to consult were not included in the collection, and upon Inquiring the reason ; was informed that they would not fit into the cases. This, of course, was an answer which did not satisfy one so imperious, and, while residing at Bayonne in 1808, he dictated the following memoir, which was sent to M. Barbier: ” Bayonne, July 8, 1803. The Emperor wishes you to form a traveling library of one thousand volumes in small 12mo and printed in handsome type. It is his Majesty’s intention to have these works printed for his special use, and in order to economize space there is to be no margin to them. They should contain from five hundred to six hundred pages, and be bound in covers as flexible as possible and with spring backs. There should be forty works on religion, forty dramatic works, forty volumes of epic and sixty of other poetry, one hundred novels and sixty volumes of history, tiio remainder being historical memoirs of every period.”

Emphasis mine.

Jun 01, 2014
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Books I recommended on the Show Your Work! tour

I can’t stand being in a bookstore talking about only my own books and not the books I love. One of my favorite things to do on this last tour was very quickly cruise through the bookstore before my talk and pick up five (somewhat random) books to recommend during Q&A. I tried to get a decent selection, pick at least one poetry book and read a poem, and post a photo of the books from each night to my Instagram. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time at every store and not every gig was in an actual bookstore, so I only have 9 batches of books. More than enough for your summer reading, though…

Mason Currey, Daily Rituals

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Wine Expert

Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers

Maira Kalman, And The Pursuit of Happiness

Jane Mount, My Ideal Bookshelf

Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems

Adam Sternbergh, Shovel Ready

Lynda Barry, The Freddie Stories

Ad Reinhardt, How To Look: Art Comics

Yoko Ono, Grapefruit

Japanese Death Poems

Anthony Burrill, I Like It. What Is It?

Matt Z. Seitz, The Wes Anderson Collection

Philip Larkin, Collected Poems

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Tony Millionaire, The Sock Monkey Treasury

Emily Dickinson, The Gorgeous Nothings

Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

George Saunders, Tenth of December

Yoko Ono, Acorn

Joe Hill, NOS4A2

Eadweard Muybridge, The Human Figure In Motion

Decomposition Book

Ellen Lupton, Thinking With Type

Chip Kidd, Go

Betty Edwards, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain

Kay Ryan, The Best Of It

Katherine Dunn, Geek Love

John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

Lewis Hyde, The Gift

Isa Chandra, Isa Does It

Oliver Jeffers, Lost and Found

Shel Silverstein, Where The Sidewalk Ends

Max Barry, Lexicon

Vaughn & Staples, Saga

Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing

Magma Sketchbook

Studs Terkel, Working

Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

David Byrne, How Music Works

Sarah Thornton, Seven Days In The Art World

Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick?

Maira Kalman, And The Pursuit of Happiness (forgot I’d already recommended this)

Lynda Barry, What It Is

Jay-Z, Decoded

See a bunch of other books I recommend here.

May 19, 2014
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One of my to-read piles. What else should I add to it?

One of my to-read piles. What else should I add to it?

Feb 20, 2014
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Little Free Libraries

This morning I stuck copies of Show Your Work! in Little Free Libraries around my neighborhood.

What is a Little Free Library?

It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!

Check out the #littlefreelibrary tag on Instagram.

Dec 21, 2013
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Favorite reads of 2013 so far. (I refuse to make a final list until the end of the year. Here’s why.)

Favorite reads of 2013 so far. (I refuse to make a final list until the end of the year. Here’s why.)

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