Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reading at heights

This is my kind of Bosun's Chair...! Great use of space - designer Sallie Trout turned an inaccessible stairwell into a book-heaven hideaway. Thanks to Miss Manly who sent it on from here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Building bookshelves

Check out the neighbours! Love the ceramic bookcase nestled into this building in Amsterdam - that's my kind of architecture. I wouldn't mind looking at that view either, beats your average brick wall. Thanks BookshelfPorn.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

All tapped out...

Somewhere in India a factory manager is turning out the lights on the last typewriter production line in the world...
Godrej and Boyce, the last remaining typewriter factory on Earth has just closed down, with only a couple of hundred machines left in stock.
The firm began production in the 1950s - when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru described the typewriter as a symbol of India's emerging independence and industrialisation. Despite the onset of computer age it was still selling 50,000 models annually in the early 1990s, but last year it sold less than 800 machines.
No matter how progressive technology becomes, nothing will replace the staccato sound of typewriter keys pounding out a letter.
I'Ll miss YOu tYpewRiterS...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bedtime stories

One for the mamas and the papas out there...
Go the F*ck To Sleep is described as 'a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don't always send a toddler sailing off to dreamland. Honest, profane and affectionate, Adam Mansbach's verses and Ricardo Cortés' illustrations perfectly capture the familiar - and unspoken - tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night, and open up a conversation about parenting in the process.
Here's a sample:
The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You're cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the f*ck to sleep.
Order your copy here!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hungarian phrase book...

... because it's funny.

Literary feast

It seems the more reliant we become on electronic media the more people prophesy on the impending redundancy of the good old 'paper' book. So if the humble book is that undesirable, why has it become the darling of the 'designer interior' set? Pretty much every supermarket-variety interior decorating magazine sprouts carefully placed Penguin 'Classics' in photo shoots of renovated lounge rooms across suburban Australia. And glossy coffee table books have never gone out of style (though they do get somewhat dusty. Here's a tip: opening them up occasionally and having a read will fix that.) But I reckon one of the worst offences against books was committed by whoever dreamed up the idea of creating those tragic faux leather book facades that the rich and stupid prop up on their bookcase to hide their Sylvester Stallone video collections in a vain attempt to look intelligent.
Welcome to Brushstroke - the uber-trendy Japanese restaurant just opened in New York where gastronomy is but one attraction... The walls of the cocktail bar and lounge were built with 12,000 second hand books. Looks pretty cool huh - brilliant even! Reading and eating, combining two of life's indisputable pleasures right? Not quite....sadly these hapless paperbacks can no longer fulfil their original purpose, jammed as they are like bricks into mortar.
The Gothamist columnist reporting on the opening asks the question on everyone's lips...: Who will be the first sake-bombed customer to idly pull out one of the books and bring the entire restaurant crashing down?

Literary love

Found this on etsy - the online treasure trove where you can snap up original creations by all kinds of clever and talented people - dangerously addictive! I Think I'm In Love wood paper print by rosiemusic.

Get the message

The New York Public Library spelled it out to the people this month, promoting the Read Across America campaign via a 9x13m display of 25,000 Dr Seuss books. As the good doctor said: 'The more you that read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.' - I Can Read With My Eyes Shut

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gender bender

Bit of a laugh... reckons that by analysing a sample of your writing, fiction or non-fiction, its Gender Genie can tell whether you're male or female. I tried it and lets's just say....two out of three ain't bad.
How did you go?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

Hip hip hooray! 
I love my birthday mug made from recycled corn plastic. 
Yes. Reading is totally sexy :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Post me!

Great gift idea for the bookophile....a beautiful boxed set of 100 classic covers from Penguin Books. Frame, them post them, use them as coasters, gift cards or just salivate over them. Love love. I found mine at Quintessential Duck Egg Blue in Balmain.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reverse psychology

Tired of being made to feel like an ignoramus every time you happen upon one of those 'books you must read....' lists - you know the drill - populated largely by 1980s school texts, unreadable 'classics' and generic bile-factory blockbusters?
This might make you feel better:
Not the 50 Books You Must Read

Monday, April 4, 2011

NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Read any good books lately? The Sydney Writers Festival is calling for the public to cast their votes in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards People's Choice Award.
Vote for your favourite book out of the six finalists:
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
Utopian Man by Lisa Lang
Night Street by Kristel Thornell
Lovesong by Alex Miller
Traitor by Stephen Daisley
The English Class by Ouyang Yu
I haven't read any of them! Make your pick here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Golden Books glamour

Remember Golden Books ...Who have imagined someone would turn them into a princess gown one day...? Check out Ryan Novelline's website to see how he constructed this gown from the pages of hundreds of fairytale stories. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sisters in arms

One of my friends, along with her sisters, is right this minute living out a true story that is so much stranger, so much more unbelievable, more gut wrenching, more gripping than any fictional novel could be that it makes one stick in one's seat, mind boggling, and think hooley dooley who knows what? is going on behind the scenes in people's lives... 
I came across another true story in The Economist this week - another tale of sisters, equally inspiring. Here's hoping both come to the good and brave ending they deserve.
'When Wayétu Moore fled her home of Monrovia, Liberia with her father and two sisters in the summer of 1989, banished by the outburst of civil war, one of the few things she had was a small notebook. In Lai, the village where they hid for six months, five-year-old Wayétu and her sisters scribbled about the death and mayhem they witnessed around them. Over two decades after they left Liberia, the Moore sisters now lead successful lives in America. Their parents have reunited (their mother was a Fulbright scholar at Columbia University when they had to flee), and two brothers were born in America. But they have never forgotten their war-devastated homeland, and the fact that very few children there — especially girls — are educated, or even literate...'
Wayétu and her sisters have launched One Moore Book - a publishing company that produces books for children living in countries with low literacy rates. Great idea.
You can read the rest of the story here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Guilty sins...

Thanks to my friend the Unsung Heroine for passing this on from the Mamamia website...
A confessional on the trashy reads secretly loved and cherished by bookophiles - What's your book shame?
I not-so-sheepishly put my hand up for the The Thorn Birds too. Read it cover to cover on a three-day flight from Sydney to Durban via Perth, Mauritius, Harare and Johannesburg when I was 13 years old and was so engrossed I barely noticed the dodgy airline food, cramped confines onboard, permanent daylight and lack of air-con (and seats) during a 3-hour transit at Harare, all the way home to Africa.
There have been others, too numerous and cringe-worthy to mention here, but I'd love to know yours!
What's your favourite secret trashy read?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Art + storytelling = relief

A picture is worth a thousand words. 
It's said that the modern use of this phrase originates from an article by an American, Fred R Barnyard, in an advertising trade journal in the early 1920s, promoting the use of images in ads that appeared on the sides of trams. He later used the same phrase in another ad and called it a Chinese proverb - so that 'people would take it seriously'. 
So there you go - Confucius scores again.
Whatever the origins, a cliche is a cliche because it's true, and sometimes a picture finds the words to tell the story that people can't. Proceeds of all sales of this print by artist James White go to Japanese earthquake relief efforts.

The age of etiquette

Good manners are under-rated, which is why this caught my attention during the week - from AbeBooks: Courting to Duelling: Antiquated Etiquette Guides. It takes a look at old school manners manuals in the time of Queen Victoria and Abe Lincoln. 
I love the look of these two by Mrs Humphrey, 'Madge of Truth', written in 1898. In A Word to Women ladies are taught how to run the household efficiently and dress appropriately according to their social status. Manners for Men teaches blokes about huntin' and fishin' and how to pick up girls... 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to write a novel

From the keyboard of Australian author Max Barry comes....
15 ways to write a novel
He's had a few novels of his own published (Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company) so he's obviously doing something right. I like the 'Word Ceiling' - it gives me all the justification I need to only write 500 words per day!
Different strokes for different folks though. As Barry says - if there was a single method of writing a great book, we'd all be doing it.
What method do you reckon would work for you?

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Book Night

Missed it by thiiiis much....! Just read about World Book Night which took place on March 5 throughout Britain and Ireland (maybe they should check a map?) with 'the largest book giveaway ever'. 20,000 volunteers took to the streets and handed out one million free books in a publicity stunt designed to promote reading among the masses. 
Among the patrons, such luminaries as Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, Seamus Heaney, Sir Richard Branson and Colin Firth lent their energy to the cause, vaunting a book list of 25 novels - contemporary books and classics - selected by committee. 
If what one reads on the web is to be believed, despite the rash of freebies, sales of those novels have peaked in the weeks since World Book Day took place. You can check out the list of titles here. I'd have stuck my hand out very graciously for a copy of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. What would you have chosen?
And here's a novel idea: considering the title of the event, how about we in the Antipodes get a look in next year? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hope among the rubble

Twitter has been flooded by photos of libraries across Japan this week, showing scenes of chaos repeated in schools, universities and public libraries shaken by the earthquake. 
Why libraries? 
The New Yorker says: 'These are images of hope, as much as of disaster, and they speak to the idea that the things most fundamental to a culture—in this case, its codified knowledge — have not been lost'.
Top: The library of the Sendai Mediatheque, taken just after the quake by Eishi Katsura. Middle: the same library before the quake. Above: Library Kasama, Ibaraki Prefecture and Central Library, University of Tsukaba.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Freedom falls flat

After finishing Freedom it was pretty much a unanimous decision among my book group last night that we need a cracker read up next to make up for it. 
Not that it was a terrible book.... it was just more of a 'nothing' book to me. 550 pages of....well, not much. I realise that goes against the opinion of (quite) a few million people in the world but hey - you know a book isn't hitting home when a 'Cataclysmic Event' happens towards the end of said 550 pages and you're left stifling a yawn.
So, onwards and upwards! 
Our next pick is The Tiger's Wife, the debut novel by Belgrade-born Tea Obreht. The Economist's books blog Prospero gave it the thumbs up, saying: 
'The Tiger’s Wife considers 50 years of miasmal Balkan history from the 1940s to the 1990s, and it brims with the remixed and fictionalised personal experiences of this inquisitive young author. The resulting story, of a young doctor named Natalia, her family and their homeland, is highly original, funny and frightening, and a welcome addition to writing on the region.
'Natalia, living in the present day, works in an unnamed part of the region where the maps continue to change. She is grappling with the past: her grandfather, also a doctor, has died in mysterious circumstances. The stories he’s told her about their home eventually offer answers about his death. By interlacing Natalia’s experiences with two riveting tales from her grandfather—about a man who cannot die, and a tiger who escapes the zoo and wanders around indiscriminately hungry for his next meal—Ms Obreht deftly spans decades of Balkan history with all the imagination and passion of Gabriel García Márquez and Louis de Bernières.'
Something different - and I'm a little rusty on my Balkan history so bring it on. What are you reading?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Princess diaries

Haha! Saw this on my very talented friend Jo's blog Coelho Culture, photographed during her latest travels in London.
As the world watches, what kind of story shall unfold? Fairytale, nightmare, rom-com, melodrama, tragedy (I hope not), epic adventure (probably), psychological drama (I'm sure)...
It's a Choose Your Own Adventure in the making. Only this one has three billion people watching their every move. Gulp.
Good luck kids.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Type 3

The last word on typewriters. Something about this pic makes me smile - not sure whether it's the cheerful aqua enamel or the quilted 'grandma' bed spread. Nevertheless, it's by Vancouver artist Tracey Ayton and I found it on UPPERCASE
What kind of story would you punch out of this one?

Type 2

This is a typewriter. Deconstructed. No words inside...but plenty of squiggly bits and pieces.
Artist Todd McLellan takes apart old objects and reinvents them as an art form. This piece is from his exhibition series disassembly.
'I've used old items that are no longer used by the masses and often found on the street curbs heading for disposal. All of the items in the photographs were in working order. The interesting part was the fact that they were all so well built, and the parts were most likely put together by hand. I envisioned all the enjoyment these pieces had given many people for many years, all to be replaced by new technology that will be rapidly replaced with half the use.'
No words inside but I recognise my story in the chaos...