Sorry to have been so lax here, but I’ve been busy visiting family, recovering from the creeping crud, and getting the garden planned. I’ve re-dedicated myself to actually getting the garden up and running and feeding us this year (no small task in a yard that is mostly shaded). I have hopes for blueberries, Lingonberries, Potatoes, and a small veggie patch, but of course we’ll see what nature has planned. I hope the holidays treated you well and that (politics aside) your new year is off to a good start.
Last month I promised to let you know what books I was graced with for Jolabokaflod. I think I mentioned that we don’t do a big Christmas in our family, mostly stockings, handmade gifts, and reading material. This year we paired down a bit (since we’ve once again run out of shelf space & I’ve not quite garnered the energy to move furniture and bookshelves around). I received THREE books this year (2 from my wonderful wife and one via gift card from my Mom).
The Book: A Cover to Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time by Keith Houston (W.W. Norton & Company, August 23, 2016)
“In The Book, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue, and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages―of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity, and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations, and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today. Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, The Book gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity’s most important―and universal―information technology.”
This book speaks to so many parts of me: the book binder, the graphic designer & typophile, the academic & historian, and the storyteller. I love histories of objects & how they inform our culture, progress, and technology. This book is both smart and cheeky, AND it’s well designed.
Now I Sit Me Down: from Klsimos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History by Witold Rybczynski (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 23, 2016)
“In Now I Sit Me Down, the distinguished architect and writer Witold Rybczynski chronicles the history of the chair from the folding stools of pharaonic Egypt to the ubiquitous stackable monobloc chairs of today. He tells the stories of the inventor of the bentwood chair, Michael Thonet, and of the creators of the first molded-plywood chair, Charles and Ray Eames. He reveals the history of chairs to be a social history–of different ways of sitting, of changing manners and attitudes, and of varying tastes. The history of chairs is the history of who we are.”
Like The Book, this speaks to my love of every day, utilitarian objects, their history, and their overall impact on our lives. I also love how this speaks to different cultures’ use of the objects—It’s such a wonderful study in perspectives.
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg (Little Brown and Company, December 6, 2016)
“In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.”
This is Greenberg’s second graphic novel. The first, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, I just fell in love with. I’m not a huge graphic novel person, but her artwork speaks to the printmaker in me and her story telling is beautiful, poignant, and poetic.