Archive | July, 2013

Book Porn: Sandwich Book

13 Jul

Heard of a coffee table book? Well, this creation by graphic designer Pawel Piotrowski is a dining table book.

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New Fiction Review: ‘The Herbalist’ by Niamh Boyce

11 Jul

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

I won my copy of ‘The Herbalist’ through a Goodreads First Reads competition and was immediately struck by how much the cover looked like that of ‘Call the Midwife’. I don’t believe this choice was accidental. The texts share a common thread; both novels are historical fictions that pertain to women’s bodies, and both have a heavy religious presence.

‘The Herbalist’ is the story of a small group of women in 1930s Ireland. It details how the seemingly trivial appearance of a charming foreigner, who enters their market square one day to pedal his miraculous wares, changes their lives forever. It’s a novel about social convention, secrecy and seduction. Each woman is faces with her own choice to make and burden to bear, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Continue reading

Book Porn: Princeton University Library’s Bookbinding Collection

9 Jul

Princeton University’s Firestone Library is pretty much the greatest library on the planet, at least according to the evidence I’ve gathered. They held an exhibition back in 2002 called ‘Hand Bookbindings: Plain and Simple to Grand and Glorious’ in the Library’s main gallery, and every single book included is the most beautiful book that you have ever seen.

These marbled endpapers are from John Disney’s ‘An essay upon the execution of the laws against immorality and prophaneness’, published in London in 1708. I would like to read this book.

But wait, it gets better:

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Ekaterina Panikanova Paints on Books

7 Jul

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Artist Ekaterina Panikanova creates paintings out of old books, and they’re pretty neat. The Russian-born Roman takes objects with existing meaning and translates them into works of art. The results are absolutely gorgeous; I especially like how the different shades and makes of paper add interest and depth to the creations.

A lot of these installations feature cakes, which I’m pretty pleased about. I also like her experiments with Rorschach-like ink blots, and I feel like her black centerfolds are something that Little Goth Girl could have painted.

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What do you think? Personally, I’d like to see her try it with Kindles.

10 Manic Pixie Dream Girls From Film Adaptations of Novels

5 Jul
This post was inspired in part by Laurie Penny’s amazing article from the New Statesman earlier this week, and the equally thought-provoking response from Hazel of Freaky Trigger.

The MPDG is, by very definition, the girl of your dreams. She first became a trope thanks to Nathan Rabin’s review of Elizabethtown, in which he defined a Manic Pixie Dream Girl as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures” – but she has existed in one form or another long before he ever coined the phrase.

We saw her in the fifties, when she manifested herself as Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, and Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. In the sixties she was Jean Seberg in Breathless. As the decades roll on, see also: Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stranger than Fiction, Natalie Portman in Garden State, and every character Zooey Deschenal has ever played – ever. Kate Winslet’s character Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind acknowledges the archetype and kind of rejects the label (“Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours“) – but ultimately, she’s MPDG incarnate.

If you want a better definition of what exactly a Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s role is, this Feminist Frequency video sums it up pretty succinctly:

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Should we bank on Jane Austen being the face of our £10 notes?

3 Jul
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If the (Fanny) Price is right…

When it was announced that Elizabeth Fry would be disappearing from our £5 notes, feminists (and pretty much everyone who thinks gender equality isn’t such a dumb idea) were up in arms. Without Ms Fry the UK currency would have no female faces. Except the Queen, obviously.

Charles Darwin will soon be leaving our £10 notes and Sir Mervyn King, the until very recently Governor of the Bank of England, announced that the novelist Jane Austen is hotly tipped to be replacing Mr. Darwin. This makes rather a lot of sense as the bicentenary of ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ (her most famous novel) is coming up. In February, the Royal Mail marked this by releasing some Jane Austen related stamps (whether this is a marker of success or not up to you…I once saw some Coldplay themed stamps). Continue reading

Six Word Stories

1 Jul

Hello readers! I don’t know if I’m mentioned this before (I have), but I work in the coolest bookshop ever. As this week is Independent Booksellers Week, I thought it might be a good time to remind you all.

This was a customer testing our pens.

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague and I were discussing the concept of the six word story. For example, Ernest Hemingway is (incorrectly) believed to have once said that his best work was a story he wrote in just six words:

‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

And yeah, it’s pretty spooky. But we thought we could do better, so we took to Twitter to rally some would-be writers. Here are my six favourite responses.

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