You know the one friend who loves to read, yes, but loves even more to own books? Yeah, I’m that friend. I have a copy of nearly every book I’ve ever worked on, and often I have two copies of a book if I really loved it. Here’s the gift guide for that friend. (Also be sure to check out our gift guides for readers, writers, and editors.)
Struggling to find an original gift for the readers in your life other than books they might already own? Here are some ideas guaranteed to satisfy even the most voracious of readers. (Be sure to check out our gift guide for writers, too!)
The holidays are fast approaching. Pretty soon that writer friend of yours will hand you a small gift and you will hand her back . . . what? Need some ideas? Fear not, Inkblot has you covered! Here are our favorite gift ideas for the writers in your life.
This week we kicked off a challenge to take existing books and create a new work out of it: book spine poetry. We’ve gotten great submissions so far, so keep sending them in! (We’ll start posting them on June 6th.)
Playing with genre and form made me think about the medium of a book itself. One amazing way people do this is with the creation of artist’s books. According to the Smithsonian:
An artist’s book is a medium of artistic expression that uses the structure or function of “book” as inspiration—a work of art in book form. Although artists have illustrated the words of others for centuries, the book as art object is relatively recent.
I was fortunate enough to see an artist’s book display at Indiana University recently, and I wanted to take them all home with me! Here are a few that caught my eye:
The Bad Quarto by the Virginia Arts of the Book Center features an unofficial variant of Hamlet that was likely used by traveling minstrels. When creating it, the artists had several rules, including that “the only words that could appear on any page had to be from the assigned page in Q1; they could be re-arranged, excerpted.” The differences between this version and the Hamlet we all know are striking, moving, and humorous. To be presented in such a playful yet dark way, really does the text justice.
Praxis by Julie Chen is a playful, summery book. It has tabs that pull and twist, revealing new words and colors. It is reminiscent of a child’s interactive pop-up book.
Sanctus Sonorensis by Philip Zimmermann mimics a child’s first bible with its board-book pages, its rounded corners, and its gilded edges. It represents the passing of a day in the desert by the US-Mexico border as agents wait for illegal immigrants to give up in the heat of the day and rise from the scrub brush. Each spread features the sky as the day grows in light and heat, as well as a beatitude reading something like “Blessed are the pool boys” or “Blessed are the adobe brick makers.” Toward the end of the book, dusk begins to fall and the text turns to phrases like “and let us forgive la migra.”
Soap Story by Angela Lorenz comes to you as two small packages. The first is a photo album with six, oval openings. The second is a box of six square, numbered soaps. To release the story, you must wash and wash with each soap block, freeing the piece of paper within. Once the paper is freed, it can be put into the album to tell the story.
Riverine by Sara White explores the landscape around New Orleans, Louisiana. The pages unfold this way and that, and the text flows along the pages with each page turn. It’s a beautiful book, printed on handmade paper with an eight-color letterpress process.
Today, according to National Day Calendar, is National Puzzle Day. When I think of books that are also puzzles, the first that comes to mind is S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Have you read it yet? Maybe read isn’t even the right word . . . have you experienced it yet? Here are some facts in case you haven’t.
S.is more than a book—it’s a collection of found objects. In actuality, the book you open is called Ship of Theseus by V. M. Straka. It presents as a library’s copy of a novel with lots of marginalia scribbled throughout by two distinct characters having a written conversation in the margins. It also has various items stuck inside the book, such as notes on napkins, postcards, old photos, a decoder, and maps.
These inserts are realistic. The napkin is a napkin.
A fourth character—in addition to the author and the two readers—is the translator: F. X. Caldeira, who is another mystery.
When I was reading it, I made a point to avoid the Internet, because I was afraid of spoilers. However, some of the experience of S., is online. There are Pinterest pages and secret codes and faux radio shows, all waiting to be explored. A lot of what I’ve found was created by Abrams and Dorst, though some are fan responses to the puzzle that is S.
The audio version of S. is actually just Ship of Theseus without any of the marginalia commentary.
There is no right or wrong way to read this book. You can go straight through the novel, straight through the marginalia, or read a mixture of both. It is, in its own way, a choose your own adventure.
There are alternate endings to V. M. Straka’s novel shared by the authors floating around the Internet.
If you haven’t yet—go find yourself a copy and dive in!
Clancy loves his best friend Bernie but hates dance parties—he doesn’t know how to dance. So when Bernie invites Clancy to his dance party, Clancy braves the dangers outside his burrow and sets off on a quest to learn how to do the most popular dance, the Mashed Potato. Will he find a mashed potato and learn its dance? Or will he fail and have to disappoint his friend?
Most bookophiles love that moment when they crack open a book, new or old, and take the first sniff. When I worked as an editorial assistant at Appalachian Heritage magazine, one of my favorite tasks was unwrapping–and immediately smelling–the review copies of books we received. So what is it that makes books smell so magical? Here’s a great read on the science behind the scent. The author notes that one scientist described the smell of old books as a “combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness,” which I think is both accurate and appropriately romantic. Continue reading “Ah, the Smell of Books”→