Category Archives: books

A Brilliant Day with a Brilliant Book

How would I define a perfect day? Lying in bed reading all day and finishing a great book as the sun is setting. That was today and I couldn’t be more happy with the book which was my company, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

It’s a funny title, for a fun, historical, interesting, and captivating book written by Mary Ann Shaffer and completed by her niece Annie Barrows after Shaffer faced health issues. The novel follows letters to and from Juliet Ashton, a writer from London, who becomes enchanted with the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel after it’s occupation by Germany in World War II.

Anyway, my mother was the one to recommend this book to me, so here is the letter (okay, well.. email) I wrote to her about the book:

“I just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I called to tell you I finished it, but there was no answer and I am happy there wasn’t. It forces me to write a letter. Keep in mind I may be in a sort of mania, since I am slightly sick and spent the whole day in bed blowing my nose and reading.

this is the bed i read in all day. really, i just like to show off my canopy whenever i have an excuse.

“Oh reading! This book rekindled my love of it. Lately as I have been reading I’ve fallen flat. I finished On the Road yesterday and I loved it. It was brilliant. It was a book about being transient, but I looked at the time he was writing of as unattainable to me. I read it while I rode the subway stopping mid-sentence to look up and remind myself of my location. My location within the same America Kerouac explored, but he experienced America in a way I will never be able to (although I doubt I will stop trying anytime soon.)

“The Guernsey Literary Society was less about location, less about going. It was about finding people you love and care about and learning about them and with them. Their location on a beautiful island constantly smelling fresh salty air was merely a happy coincidence. What brought them together was books and a desire to communicate, which is a thing our society never let’s go.

this isn’t from guernsey, but it’s a house on an island. i took it on a trip to canada this summer and while i was reading i thought back to it.

“One unrelated point: Isn’t it interesting that On the Road and The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society are discussing a time only five or six years apart. I could not imagine two more opposite perspectives on the world. Anyway, I thought the book was tons of fun. I love you and every book you recommend very much.”

After editing that ‘letter’ and putting pictures in I realize how lazy it is to simply reuse a letter and plop it into a blog post, but the world is full of lazier things, I suppose. In conclusion, read this book, or read any book, or just spend a whole day reading. It’s very restorative. Tomorrow I have to return to the real world and find another book to read on the subway.
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Books on Buses.. of the underground variety

I have been totally mesmerized by the photos of Ourit Ben-Haim. Her photo series Underground New York Public Library shows New Yorkers on the subway reading. Here are a few of my favorite photos:

Just My Type” by Simon Garfield

Doctor Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak

The Birth of Tragedy” by Friedrich Nietzsche

New York by Edward” Rutherfurd

Also, check out this interview with Ourit.

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Feminist Theory.. what what!?

So I know this blog has been fairly school focused lately, but I guess you are just going to have to deal with it cause here comes more. I am in a Feminist Theory class and at the end of the class we have the choice of writing a 15 page paper, or doing a 30 minute presentation. They could be on anything that involved women. In a moment of supreme wisdom I chose to do a presentation. I like the internet so my topic was Women and the Internet.

I started off with a presentation using Prezi, which was fun cause it zoomed around a lot.. see:

So that was the presentation and then I decided to do run a little book workshop. I was especially stunned by the disparity of women contributors on wikipedia, so I had everyone make a book that was a guide to adding information to Wikipedia. Here it is:

TaDa! I’m a student. Do you for some strange reason also want to make a wikipedia booklet thing? Go here and you can print it out and then follow these instructions.

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A Typography Book

So I am in a Typography class (evidenced by these drawings of letters) and I am currently working on the final project which is an accordion book with type specimens and a timeline of type. Today we bound our first draft. Here mine is so far:

oohhh, what nice linoleum tiles!

And here is the timeline side:

Clearly it isn’t very full at the moment, since I didn’t have the content ready to put in for the first draft. This has been super fun to make, but last class when I worked on it for four hours straight my brian nearly exploded.

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Paper Editing… Duh

So I am an Academic Mentor in my Residence Hall and last week I had a program. I have been super busy, so I really procrastinated in even thinking about it. I made flyers a week before, but that was the end of my preparation.

About 20 minutes before the program I noticed that I really had nothing planned. So I quickly made up a pdf in indesign that had a bunch of tips on editing papers. I formatted it so it could be made into a book. Like this:

That’s pretty much it…

Curious on how to make the book? Check out this book’s video tutorial.

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Paris and Things that are Incorrect

So my friend Katie, who is living in Paris for the year, posted this video on a friends wall, and I absolutely love it. It takes place in the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.

(Watch the full video by clicking on that link below)
Spike Jonze: Mourir Auprès de Toi

When I saw this, I thought about That Summer in Paris by Morley Callaghan, a memoir about Morley’s friendships with Hemingway and Fitzgerald in the summer of 1929.. in Paris. I was thinking that Shakespeare and Company was the bookstore that is refers to multiple times. So instead of looking in the book that was right next to me, I googled it.

And I found a blog which cited a bunch of sources on the topic of Paris in the 1920’s. The Phd that has the blog even does presentations on the topic.

So I was pretty sad when I read her annotation of That Summer in Paris, “Morley Callaghan. That Summer in Paris. New York:  Coward-McCann, 1963. Callaghan was the timekeeper for the famous Hemingway-Fitzgerald boxing match, and he’s dined out on that story for years. A lovely memoir of a memorable summer.”

I underlined all the things that are wrong in that paragraph. Callaghan and Hemingway were the ones boxing together and they did so quiet often. Fitzgerald only accompanied them once as a timekeeper (and not a really good one.) I do have to agree that it is a lovely memoir on a memorable summer.

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Cats in a Puzzle Making Art

Look. It’s a bunch of cats on a puzzle making art. One of the books on the right says ‘Piccatso’.

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I am a Tragic Whale

So, Kerry over at the Tragic Whale put up a Tragic Whale Story that I suggested. When I suggested it to her it was just a super boring concept and she turned it into the coolest and funniest story ever. She even put my favorite books on the cover! Here is the first two pages.

Kendra’s Library… A Tragic Whale Story

Like any intelligent whale, Kendra was always looking for ways to expand her knowledge and better herself.  And what better way than to petition for a library in her town?!

To read the rest (do it cause my favorite joke is with the third picture) go here.

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5 Books about Women Who Are Cooler Than You

While at a flea market last week, I saw the books being sorted into the category “More Interesting Women”. In my mind I automatically made the label say “more interesting women than YOU”. So what female characters do I find more interesting than myself. Well, lets begin…

5. When Everything Changed

This collection of real women’s stories written and collected by Gail Collins is the perfect example of a book full of interesting women. The first story features a woman wearing pants in a courtroom. Can you get more bad ass?

4. I Capture the Castle

This novel by Dodie Smith tells the story of a young girl, Cassandra, as she develops her writing skills in a diary she keeps. Like any young girl she complains of her boring life, but she lives in a castle, making her life way cooler than mine.

3. The Color Purple

Lesbians in the 1930s. Woah! That’s interesting.

2. Zelda

In this biography Nancy Milford tells the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. She was the inspiration for almost every female character F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, so it makes sense that she is super interesting. And reading about Zelda’s transformation from Southern beauty to sad schizophrenic is both unfortunate and engrossing. I have not finished this book yet, but with 75% done I know she is cooler than me.

1. The Women’s Room

I think this book has to be my number one because every woman explored in this book had a story that explains so much about women and their evolution over time. It was remarkable how Marilyn French would delve into minor characters so deeply, telling full back stories that are impossible to forget. Even the most minor character are more interesting than myself.

Well those are the books I could come up with. Have any more to add? Tell me what they are.

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Finished Tortilla Flat

Lots of book posts today. I finished Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck a couple of days ago.

I started out feeling a little angry at this book. I was sick of Steinbeck’s male characters who manage to do everything wrong. They continuously find themselves doing bad things and are surprised as it backfires. But as the story evolved so did their characters.

If the book wasn’t good enough on its own, this quote sure helped, “it is worth it to be kind and generous… one feels a golden warmth glowing like a hot enchilada in one’s stomach.” A good food analogy is necessary to explain the Golden Rule.

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