Books

Books

The Best Things Found Between the Pages of Old Books

WHAT SECRETS HIDE AMONG THE pages of old books? There might be a lock of George Washington’s hair, the story of an forgotten luminary of American literature, or a centuries-old manuscript full of mystery. We asked Atlas Obscura readers to send us their stories about the most amazing items they found in books, and you sent us hundreds of responses—from the gross and macabre to the utterly charming and deeply surprising.
From The Best Things Found Between the Pages of Old Books - Atlas Obscura
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Reading Suggestions from a Michigan Bookseller, Books from Shithole Countries

Petosky’s McLean and Eakin Booksellers have borrowed a phrase from the Commander in Chief to promote the reading of books from Haiti and Africa. They are continuing to take suggestions.

This Kentucky Printer Makes Books The Old Fashioned Way

For more than 40 years Gray Zeitz has been creating books one at a time in his two-story print shop near the town of Monterey. He works with the some of the state's finest writers, including Wendell Berry and Bobby Ann Mason, and his Larkspur Press turns out just a few editions a year. "I have had, and still do have, printers that come in that used to work on presses like this and they are just tickled to death," says Zeitz, 69, showing me his 1915 Chandler & Price printing press. He cuts stacks of paper on another machine that dates from the late 1800s.
From This Kentucky Printer Makes Books The Old Fashioned Way : NPR
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When Making Books Was As Much Of An Art As Writing Them

When was the last time you picked up a book and really looked at how it was made: the typeface, the feel of the paper, the way the words look on the page? Today, when people can read on their phones, some books never even make it to paper.

Once, bookmaking was an art as refined and distinct as the writing it presents. And in some places, like Larkspur Press in Kentucky, it still is.

Full story here.
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On the pleasures of stumbling upon books in the wrong places

It’s funny to think I just stumbled on this book by chance. I must have been escaping from something much more heavy—I love the turgid pace of an academic book, if it’s a topic I really care about, about once a year. I think I probably escaped to Jean Stafford from something like that, and I didn’t expect much of her. I thought, Oh, this is just good old-fashioned fiction, I’ll try that for a change. So often you’re just reacting to the last book you read, and you want something that’s a little bit of an antidote to that. I’ve found that if I live a more programmatic life where I’m reading the books that I’m supposed to read—if I’m accomplishing all my little chores of reading what everybody else is reading—I stop having time to read in a way that’s rich and multiple.
From Happy Accidents
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From Hamilton To Grant: Ron Chernow Paints A 'Farsighted' President in New Biography



From Hamilton To Grant: Ron Chernow Paints A 'Farsighted' President in New Biography

Chernow, author of Hamilton, has a new book, just out this week, which also aims to revise our understanding of a figure he sees as overlooked and misunderstood: The 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. In it, Chernow aims to rehabilitate the way Americans think about the man who not only led the Union Army into victory during the Civil War but also led the country during the tumultuous era that followed.

Full piece at NPR
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Let's Talk about Books

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Penn Jillette on books

People forget how useful books are.

--Penn Jillette
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Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks



In Dear Fahrenheit 451, librarian Annie Spence has crafted love letters and breakup notes to the iconic and eclectic books she has encountered over the years. From breaking up with The Giving Tree (a dysfunctional relationship book if ever there was one), to her love letter to The Time Traveler’s Wife (a novel less about time travel and more about the life of a marriage, with all of its ups and downs), Spence will make you think of old favorites in a new way. Filled with suggested reading lists, Spence’s take on classic and contemporary books is very much like the best of literature―sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes surprisingly poignant, and filled with universal truths.

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks
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The Librarian of Auschwitz



Publisher's Weekly Starred Review -- The Librarian of Auschwitz
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18 Great Books You Probably Haven't Read

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What to Do With a Soaking Wet Book

from Syracuse University Library. A lot of paper towels are involved.

Books & Reading are More Important Than Ever

Will Schwalbe, author of Books for Living, considers why books and reading are more crucial than ever - and offers up a few ideas for what to read next. Here from Signature Reads are Schwalbe's thoughts on the subject.

He begins thus: "When I can’t stand to look at one more hateful tweet from the president, I read a book."
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Tolkien's Plant Passion Moves Botanist To Create Guide To Middle Earth

NPR story - Tolkien's Plant Passion Moves Botanist To Create Guide To Middle Earth

When most people read J.R.R. Tolkien, they get swept up in mythical worlds of hobbits and elves, harrowing journeys in fantastical lands and epic battles of good and evil.

But Walter Judd says he got lost in the scenery.

"I started underlining every name of a plant as I was reading The Lord of the Rings," he tells NPR's Morning Edition.

All of the figures in the book — like this nasturtium — are hand-drawn by Graham Judd, who says he used a minimalist woodblock-style to let readers' imaginations bring the illustrations to life.

Moved by Tolkien's passion for plants, the retired botany professor spent years cataloging every plant that appeared in his writing, eventually compiling a list of 141 different species. He teamed up with his son, Graham, a professional illustrator. And together, they embarked on quest to transform that list into a botanical guide to Middle Earth.
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Clovis Library Shooting: Teen Planned To Shoot Up High School

The father of a troubled 16-year-old boy charged with gunning down two library workers in Clovis, New Mexico said he knew something was amiss when he noticed two handguns were were missing from his home safe.

He reported that information to police, along with the fact that his son — serving a suspension from his high school — was not at home. But by then, the deadly shooting had already happened.

Nathaniel Jouett initially planned to shoot up his high school but went instead to the Clovis-Carver Public Library in the rural community Monday afternoon, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Full article -- Clovis Library Shooting: Teen Planned To Shoot Up High School
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Reproducing Racism



Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage

This book is designed to change the way we think about racial inequality. Long after the passage of civil rights laws and now the inauguration of our first black president, blacks and Latinos possess barely a nickel of wealth for every dollar that whites have. Why have we made so little progress?

Legal scholar Daria Roithmayr provocatively argues that racial inequality lives on because white advantage functions as a powerful self-reinforcing monopoly, reproducing itself automatically from generation to generation even in the absence of intentional discrimination. Drawing on work in antitrust law and a range of other disciplines, Roithmayr brilliantly compares the dynamics of white advantage to the unfair tactics of giants like AT&T and Microsoft.

With penetrating insight, Roithmayr locates the engine of white monopoly in positive feedback loops that connect the dramatic disparity of Jim Crow to modern racial gaps in jobs, housing and education. Wealthy white neighborhoods fund public schools that then turn out wealthy white neighbors. Whites with lucrative jobs informally refer their friends, who refer their friends, and so on. Roithmayr concludes that racial inequality might now be locked in place, unless policymakers immediately take drastic steps to dismantle this oppressive system.
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16 Books About Race That Every White Person Should Read

UW Librarian’s Book Reveals Business Icon’s Impact on Rural America

A University of Wyoming faculty member’s new book about James Cash Penney explores how the department store icon and his company shaped rural America throughout the 20th century.

“I wanted to wrap my mind around the scope of Penney’s extensive involvement in agriculture and rural America and, ultimately, understand why a successful department store icon would choose to pursue such activities while living and working in New York City,” says David Kruger, UW’s agricultural research librarian.

“J.C. Penney: The Man, the Store, and American Agriculture” provides a biographical account of the business mogul and a historical view of his company and rural America.

Full article

Survival of the smallest: the contested history of the English short story

While bitter experience has shown poetry exactly where it stands in the marketplace, and the novel has shrugged off multiple reports of its death and maintained pre-eminence, the short story is continually characterised as the neglected form that will be great again. The funny thing is, when you explore its history you find the perception of a distant golden age, an undistinguished present and a return to glory has always been around: the short story has a problem with reality.
From Survival of the smallest: the contested history of the English short story
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What do protests about Harry Potter books teach us?

According to scholar Christine Jenkins, people who try to censor texts often hold a set of false assumptions about how reading works. One of those assumptions is that particular literary content (like positive portrayals of witchcraft) will invariably produce particular effects (more witches in real life). Another is that reactions to a particular text are likely to be consistent across readers. In other words, if one reader finds a passage scary, funny or offensive, the assumption is that other readers invariably will do so as well.
From What do protests about Harry Potter books teach us? - Salon.com

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