Tag Archives: books

Abandonment Issues

15 Oct
My Eldest Daughter, Suzanne with Milk and Book by Carl Larsson, 1904.

My Eldest Daughter, Suzanne with Milk and Book by Carl Larsson, 1904.

What are your thoughts on leaving a novel unfinished? Some of you, I’m sure, will persevere through the most plot-holed purple prose imaginable. Others will have hard and fast rules — preferring to stop after the first page, or abandoning a book on the third chapter if they’re not really feeling it.

Apparently the rule for what page to abandon a book is 100 minus your age. For me, this means calling it quits on page 77. But I feel like the reasoning behind this rule is a bit morbid. Does it mean that as you get older, your days are numbered and you have less time to waste on bad books?!

The Copybot has a little tip for knowing when to call it quits:

You probably didn’t know this, but there’s an instinct to abandoning a book. Sort of like foraging for food. Except you are foraging for information. You are following a scent. An information scent.

And if while reading a book you lose that scent, you should stop and move onto something else.

Goodreads has a great infographic on the psychology of abandonment and it’s pretty interesting reading.

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What is it about a book that makes you put it down? These readers give reasons like “slow, boring”, “weak writing” and “when an author is committed to doing something I hate”. All valid points. However, I would never quit reading a book because I thought it was “immoral”, or “I didn’t like the main character”! ‘Lolita’, anyone?

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I’m actually guilty of abandoning 3/5 of the most begun-but-not-finished classics… and that’s only because I returned to ‘Lord of the Rings’ after the movies came out. However, there’s still time for me to go back and finish the rest!

I have read some truly awful books in my life. And I have started some truly amazing ones, never to finish them.

Sometimes, driven by the thrill of the conquest, I’ll feel like I’ve invested too much time to give up. And what if I miss something important?! There are potentially life-changing words in every abandoned book. Other times, I’ll just lose interest and put the book aside.

There isn’t really a consensus for what makes me read on to the final page!

What about you?

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Books Are My Bag

13 Oct

Books Are My Bag is a UK campaign to celebrate bookshops. For many people, bookshops conjure fond images of book readings, in-store cafes and delight at the discovery of a new author. In fact, 56% of all book buying decisions are made by bookshop customers, and high street bookshops (both chains and independents) still account for almost 40% of books bought by consumers! Yet, many high street bookshops are under threat, especially from online retailers.

I suppose these bags are good reminders to people to buy more books. After all – orange is the most impulsive colour! However, there are certainly more stylish solutions out there if you want to show off your inner bookworm.

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Book Porn: Armpits4August Edition

15 Aug

Day 14: Not a lot to see here.

If you haven’t noticed the trend of underarm follicles blossoming into fruition this month, I wouldn’t blame you. Despite Dove’s marketing campaign to try and sell us the ‘beautiful underarm’ as a thing, we just don’t spend a lot of time looking at each other’s pits! Unless you’re Amanda Palmer or Julia Roberts, the sad fact of life is that nobody will pay very much attention to your underarm tresses if you do grow hair under there, and if you’re bare under there you probably haven’t ever given much thought to why you shave in the first place. But for some women and trans* men with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the battle against body hair can be a complicated, emotional, and embarrassing experience.

A common symptom of PCOS is hirsutism (excessive hair growth). Inspired by this, Armpits4August began as a month long charity event in which participants grow underarm hair for one month and ask friends and family to sponsor them to raise money for Verity, the charity for people with PCOS. Armpits4August believes the shame a lot of people feel about their body hair is a consequence of living in a society which dictates that female-assigned bodies must conform to incredibly narrow beauty standards, and which upholds a rigid gender binary that deems body hair a ‘masculine’ trait.

These beautiful and bizarre book covers are my own contribution to the movement (as well as my participation in the event, of course). So without further ado, let’s take a look at the lovely limb locks! Continue reading

New Fiction Review: ‘Acorn’ by Yoko Ono

12 Aug

Frankie just finished reading ‘Acorn’, a book of instructional pieces by conceptual art extraordinaire Yoko Ono. S/he thought this:

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Yoko’s great. Really, she knows what she’s doing. Her ideas are interesting, she’s clearly quite well read and well informed, she’s an intense and acute observationist, and she’s as much a presence on paper as she is in person. She’s an extraordinary artist, and no one needs reminding. But she’s not my artist. She doesn’t speak to me, she doesn’t resonate, she barely inspires a ripple in my imagination.

And that’s not to say that I don’t have imagination; I make songs, I make collages, I have an investment in art-making and conceptual thinking. But I’m also a pretty standard young person: barely any money, still unsure what I’m willing to do as a real job, concerned about the way I look and how others perceive me, inspired by various Westernisms and very much an urbanite. I’ve been toughened by the city, toughened by a fairly working-class upbringing, toughened by having to deal with assholes on a near-daily basis, toughened by being an unsigned, unloved musician, toughened by club and drug culture, toughened toughened toughened, made bitter, twisted, cynical, unbearable, and pissed off to the max (and yes, that’s everyone else’s fault, actually). Continue reading

Ekaterina Panikanova Paints on Books

7 Jul

rabbit

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.

black

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

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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Book Porn: Rainbow Bookshelves

19 Jun

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From my Pinterest board ‘Sexy Bookshelves‘.

It could be practical if you can always remember what colour the spine is on your favourite books!

I think it could be fun to devote one or two shelves in a house to LGBT+ authors. And for sexist and homophobic authors you could try gently ripping off the covers and sort of tossing the book into some mud somewhere.

What do you think of the rainbow bookshelf method of organisation?Are you more of an alphabetical or organise-by-genre kind of reader? Or are all your books on a Kindle? Let me know in the comments!

Ten Books that Should Have be Written

17 Jun

I’m always saying how authors should be writing less alienating female characters, or improving their inclusion of minorities, or just generally writing, say, better vampire fiction. For his 100 Days project, graphic designer Tyler Adam Smith has come up with his own concepts for books that should be, or should have been, written. I’ve put together my top ten – publishing houses, take note.

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Are Book Covers Gendered?

15 Jun

The answer is… probably. YA author Maureen Johnson set her Twitter followers the challenge of the ‘Coverflip‘ — taking a book that is marketed for one gender and then imagining it in reverse. She explains:

the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simple more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow […] This idea that there are “girl books” and “boy books” and “chick lit” and “whatever is the guy equivalent of chick lit” gives credit to absolutely no one, especially not the boys who will happily read stories by women […] I would love a world in which books are freed from some of these constraints.

It turns out that the results of Coverflip are a bit like the male pinup project Men-ups!, meaning that they’re a sad and absurd insight into how gender is represented, commodified and exploited… but they are also undoubtedly hilarious. Here are a few of my faves from Johnson’s Twitter followers (the original cover will appear first):

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The ‘Lord of the Flies‘ one just kills me.

Johnson (whose book appears in the slideshow above) notices that “lots of times the ‘perceived good’ stuff goes to male authors, with the female authors falling in that ‘let’s sell it as romance, which is soft and silly’ pile, when in fact romance is fascinating. And not all women write it.”

Jodi Picoult weighed in over Twitter:

Why is it ‘domestic fiction’ if a woman writes about family/relationships, but if a man does that, it’s Pulitzer-worthy? … what would happen if a woman submitted a book under male pseudonym to a publisher? Would it be treated differently?

And Amanda Hocking blogged:

more women read books than men, more women write books than men, but only a small fraction of books that win literary awards are written by women. Women are the publishing industry’s bread and butter, we are the backbone of the damn entertainment industry, but we are constantly demoted to ‘fluffy’ to ‘light’ to ‘meaningless’.

So, question time! Is the publishing industry inherently sexist when it comes to women’s fiction? If so, do we only think this because we think that “girlie things” are considered inferior by default? Do you judge a book by its cover? And what would a nongendered book cover look like? Does such a thing exist? Will this argument become moot when the Kindle takes over the world and the last book has been used as kindling? Is that why they named it that? Let me know in the comments!

The Poetry of Book Spines

13 Jun

Nina Katchadourian is a Californian artist whose work has appeared in The Serpentine and MoMA. It’s been a decade since she conceived Sorted Books, an ongoing project which has manifested itself in many different places. Sorted Books is a very simple concept. Katchadourian visits private homes, or is commissioned by museums or peers, to peruse a collection of books, cull them down to their most useful titles and then group the books together so that their spines can be read in a sequence with the semblance and majesty of poetry.

Procrastination
I’ll Quit Tomorrow
I’ll Quit Tomorrow

DAVID
DAVID
FIRST AND LAST LOVE
SWEET MAN
Trust Me With Your Heart Again

MADE OF IRON
THE VICTOR WEEPS
The End is NEAr!
Yes, but…
STILL
IT HURTS

A DAY AT THE BEACH
THE BATHERS
SHARK 1
SHARK 2
SHARK 3
SUDDEN VIOLENCE
SILENCE

They seem to beg that age old question, what qualifies as art? Do these books become art when they are deliberately placed together? Do they remain art when the components are taken apart and the separate titles are returned to the shelf?

I was so inspired that I decided to try my hand at making some myself. The results are under the cut.

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