•on October 16th, 2011
The past few weeks have been all about words.
[Photo taken at the Pratt library in Brooklyn]
- The launch of A Tale of Four Cities is approaching on November 1 (!!!), so I’ve been spending most of my free time reading/editing stories, working out the final kinks of the website, and working with our incredibly talented artists to create pieces to complement each story.
- One of the books I worked on for Encounter Books, Living the Call: An Introduction to the Lay Vocation, is now available for purchase. It’s a helpful, interesting book for any Catholics who are interested in getting involved in lay ministry.
- My roommate Kathleen has a new blog, which I helped her design. It’s adorable; check it out!
- I’m in the middle of the new Eugenides book, and it’s great so far. I really identify with the main character and her very amusing English-major experiences. (Derrida!)
- Check out my Pinterest set of words and letters.
- Take a look at my homemade Scrabble-tile magnets (and my friend Diego).
•on March 28th, 2011
I recently browsed the picked-over shelves of a Borders that is closing in New York City. The store was frighteningly bare, down to romance novels and business books, with half the overhead lights burned out and tired booksellers forcing smiles as they faced their last few days on the job. It was incredibly depressing, and I left with a pit in my stomach and without a book in my hand.
While I’ll always be loyal to the independent bookstore — and especially to the used bookstore — the idea of any bookseller going bankrupt scares me a bit. I mean, Borders went under. What could this possibly mean for the mom-and-pop operations on Lexington Avenue?
Last year, the Waldenbooks closed in my hometown of Alpena, Mich., leaving the city with a gaping void. Sure, Waldenbooks was tiny and only carried the most mainstream books (plenty of Stephanie Meyers and Mitch Albom), but it was still a bookstore. Fortunately for Alpena, Blue Phoenix Books opened to fill the void, carrying a better selection of both used and new books and offering a much nicer environment. While it’s still uncertain whether this will survive in the city’s downtown, which seems to have an ever-revolving list of vendors, it’s great that for the time being, the city’s readers have a place to go.
I’m not an economist, and I don’t always understand the way the markets work. But I can’t help but worry about the fact that if the big stores can’t survive, it probably doesn’t bode well for the independent operations — those funky booksellers with their reading groups, wonderfully curated book selections and quirky section titles (see above).
And I suppose I’ll just try to do my part by frequenting those shops, realizing that while I might be paying more for the books than I would online, I’m also paying for the things I love about physical bookstores. Amazon.com is great, but it doesn’t smell like old paper, and you can’t browse the aisles when you’re in a bad mood, and they certainly don’t name their sections things like “The Civil War, So to Speak.”
Those are the things I’ll miss, and those are the things I’ll fight to preserve.
•on March 24th, 2011
First, I wanted to show you the gorgeous necklace I just got in the mail from Odette (left). It’s really delicate and interesting, and I love the tiny bird on it so much.
As you might have gathered from the lack of substantive posts this week — although I do love those poems — I’ve been quite busy. I had to cover for one of my managers at Time this week, so I did her work on top of my own job. And of course, journalism doesn’t care if you’re new or not, so the breaking news just kept pouring in!
Since things are a bit slower today and my parents are still in town, I’m planning to spend the afternoon with them before my painting class. The class has been going well — I am seeing a lot of improvement with each painting that I finish. I actually rather like the one I just completed. I have been forgetful about photographing my progress, but I’ll make sure to post some photos in the next few days.
How has your week been? What’s new, people of the Internet? And are you as fired up as I am about the AP Stylebook changing e-mail to email and making smartphone one word? Because I think that’s just silliness.
•on February 8th, 2011
Michael Totten’s book The Road to Fatima Gate: The Beirut Spring, the Rise of Hezbollah, and the Iranian War Against Israel (coming out April 5) is now available for preorder. If you’re interested in reading it, you can order an autographed copy from Totten via his website (click here) or buy it on Amazon.com. I’d recommend ordering it directly from the author, since he’ll get more direct revenue from each sale and you’ll get an autograph out of the deal.
The book is an intelligent look at Hezbollah, Lebanon and the violence in the Middle East that combines history, political analysis and memoir. It’s an interesting read, and Totten is a great writer and a skilled reporter. It’s been a pleasure working on this book, and I’m excited that it will be coming out so soon.
•on February 1st, 2011
I’ve been subscribing to Jen Bekman’s 20×200 newsletter for a long time. Beckman is an art curator who offers prints that range from $20 to $2,000. The artists featured are amazing, usually up-and-coming, and I spend a good amount of time drooling over all their work. I finally bought the painting seen above, which is adorably titled “YES (You Complete the Picture)” by artist Trey Speegle.
I love this piece for a few reasons: First, we all know I love colors. Second, I LOVE paint-by-number. And third, I just find it to be such a happy and uplifting painting. It’s fun, cheerful and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also goes hand-in-hand with my new motto for 2011 — positivity.
Blog, Digital Wall of Shame
•on January 24th, 2011
Back in the day, I loved Contempo Casuals. My town didn’t have one, so whenever I was at a real mall in a real city, I would beg my mom to take me in there. I remember buying my share of Contempo baby tees, floral-print skirts and giant sweaters back in the early ’90s. Then Wet Seal came in and bought all the stores, merging them with their own brand, and the clothes went from slightly edgy preteen garb to teen-hooker club clothes that disintegrated in the first wash.
But I will say that the clothes send a message. This tunic, for example, says, Hey, I’m a total skank who’s, like, too cool for grammar. And stuff.
(Image from Elysia, who saw it here.)
•on January 21st, 2011
Last week, I went to a grocery store in Chinatown, where I noticed that almost every item of food was graced with cartoon mascots.
Above, we have a Zorro-style bandit with giant ears (or wings?) representing cheese-and-shrimp-flavored puffs, which sound utterly unappetizing. To the left is a chicken on a can of chicken stock that my friend pointed out looks eerily like Peter Griffin. (See its mushroom companion here.) And below, we have a strange flower person with a mysteriously giant thumb that appeared on a package of frozen steamed buns. There were also two cute chocolate lollipops that caught our attention. Compared with this, American food just isn’t as much fun.
Blog, New York City
•on January 19th, 2011
My favorite bookstore, McNally Jackson Books, just added an Espresso Book Machine to the store. You can search a database of any public-domain or specially licensed books, and the machine will print a paperback for you as you wait. It was really fun to see the process and hold the final product.
First, the machine prints the pages (see photo above), then it stacks them and prints the cover. Next, it turns the manuscript sideways and glues the spine to the pages. Finally, it cuts the book to size, discards the extra pieces (see photo at left), and spits out the book through a little slot.
The covers are made from a slightly cheaper paper than a normal paperback, but the books themselves feel sturdy and well made. Using the machine is an especially great option if you want to self-publish your own work or if you’re looking for an out-of-print book or something obscure that the store doesn’t have in stock. For example, the book we saw being printed was written in the 1600s and is no longer in circulation.
A book vending machine. It’s no hoverboard, but it still feels like we’re finally in the future.
(McNally Jackson Books is located at the corner of Prince and Mulberry streets in Manhattan.)
•on January 13th, 2011
This set of 100 classic Penguin book covers might be the coolest set of postcards I’ve seen in a while. Some of the covers are worn and clearly came from scans of originals, and the titles range from the well known (The Great Gatsby) to the humorously obscure (Keeping Poultry and Rabbits on Scraps). My only problem with owning these is that I’ll do what I always do with amazing postcards: Instead of sending them to my book-loving friends who would clearly get a kick out of them, I’ll hoard them in their box because they’re too cute to part with.
•on January 11th, 2011
Hand soap shaped like baby-doll hands. It’s simultaneously really clever and cool and insanely creepy. Can you imagine seeing that in someone’s bathroom?
You can buy it here. I found the link here.