The Best Positions for Reading, and How to Know if You Should Lend

As you can see from my Twitter feed, I just found a delightful post by the Times of India that prescribes the best way to position yourself for the utmost enjoyment of your book. 5 Postures to Read Books Perfectly sums it up quite nicely with information about leg height, foot support and more. For the best reading experience possible, check it out:
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This infographic will help take the agony out of that eternal question, “Should I lend them the book?” We have all wanted to lend someone a book at some point. We really want to share the insight that we gleaned from a certain book, and there are many factors that go into the decision to part with a book. What if they fold pages or damage the spine? Or, worse, what if we never get the book back? But they are such a good friend, and this book would really help them.. And so it goes. BUT, the infographic I found yesterday is a real help and I hope that the scenarios contained within it will help all of you in your future book-lending decisions. From BuzzFeed Books comes the wonderfully insightful, helpful infographic, “Should You Give Someone A Book?” created by Jon Adams.

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Science and Infographics Explain the Heavenly Aroma of Old Books

The other day I saw an Infographic about the unmistakable smell of Old Books, and I liked it so much I felt I should put together a post on the subject. Upon searching for appropriate articles and graphics to attach here, I also found the most amazing thing ever. It’s probably not new to most of my readers, but.. BOOK AND PAPER-SCENTED CANDLES AND PERFUMES! Listed on ebookfriendly.com, I personally love the idea of burning a candle called Ex Libris, or Oxford Library.
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*image retrieved from http://ebookfriendly.com/book-smell-perfumes-candles/#book-smell-candles

But I’m already off track. On September 26, 2014, Lisa Winter wrote, Where Does the Smell of Old Books Come From? for IFL Science. To paraphrase, the article says that “volatile organic compounds” break down over the years, causing that smell which makes bibliophiles grow weak in the knees. The article is a nice, quick read and explains why there really is an old book smell.

This next article, What Causes “Old Book Smell”? by Matt Soniak for mental_floss is also fairly short, but has a little more detail to it, and adds some interesting tidbits like, “a book’s smell is also influenced by its environment . . . which is why some books have hints of cigarette smoke, others smell a little like coffee, and still others, cat dander.”

And if articles just don’t do it for you, these Infographics definitely will:
1. Compound Interest has a great one, “What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?” I like how it addresses the bells of old and new books, because new books definitely have a distinctive smell too. Click on the picture below for the full Infographic:
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2. This Infographic, published on June 3, 2014 by the Daily Mail, is similar to the one above, but who can resist another book-related Infographic?
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That’s a Book?!

In February I posted a TED Talk about Brian Dettmer’s work, but I thought I would make a post that draws my readers’ attention to more of his art. Check out his amazing art featured on his website. Dettmer’s altered books are absolutely fascinating. Pictures and illustrations always make a book better, and by changing the books so that their story is the pictures, Dettmer re-creates every one of the books he works on.
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*20th Century Medica (detail), 2012. Image courtesy of the Artist and Toomey Turrell Fine Art. Retrieved from http://briandettmer.com/art/2012/#p945

Another book artist who deserves some attention is Alexander Korzer-Robinson. It’s clear that his work is reminiscent of the collage style, and the books he alters are all older, so the illustrations that he exposes are often from the Victorian era or early 20th-century (though not all are). As a result, he transforms antique books into visual trips into the past. Click here to view his stunning portfolio.
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*Nouveau Larousse Illustre Vol VII, 1908 by Alexander Korzer-Robinson. Image retrieved from http://www.alexanderkorzerrobinson.co.uk/portfolio/402366_nouveau-larousse-illustre-vol-vii-1908.html

Books about Bookstores!

As a bibliophile, I enjoy reading books where a bookstore features prominently in the story. I love bookstores; I dream of spending my days in one. So when I find a book with characters whose lives are intimately connected with a bookstore, naturally I enjoy reading it a little more than the others.

Here is a short list of some books that might appeal to those other bibliophiles out there, and I do apologize for some repeats from my earlier posts.

1. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (1919)
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By now in the public domain and available through Print On Demand, this book is absolutely delightful. It features an atmospheric bookstore with a lovably eccentric owner; suspense and intrigue with just a touch of terrorism; romance, and a great many books.

2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (2012)
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This novel was immediately absorbing, and I enjoyed every page of it. The protagonist ends up working in a very unusual bookstore quite by chance, and it ends up changing his life. Plus, we get an interesting glimpse into the world of Google. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but the journey to get there was wonderfully imaginative.

3. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014)
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Published just last year, and having received many commendations, you’ve no doubt at least heard of this book, if not already read it yourself. It is indeed heart-warming, touching, poignant, as well as funny, uplifting and an endearing tale of love and new life. And of course, it’s set around (and in) a bookstore!

4. Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie (2014)
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If you are at all intrigued by the supernatural, and also love books, then THIS is a book you will enjoy. And who knows, your local bookstore may be in it! Full of eye-witness account of real hauntings in Canada, the United States and abroad, it is an interesting, educational and spooky read.

Budget woes and Pervy Patrons

Today’s post focuses on those hallowed institutions we learn to love at a very early age: Libraries.

An article released yesterday by the New Glasgow News is distressing for people who know that library budgets are already tight. Libraries wary of tax proposal on books is scary enough,but the opening line of the article is enough to bring a tear to the eye. “[I]f the Liberal government goes ahead with its plan to put the provincial portion of the HST on printed books, it would end up costing the library an additional $10,000 a year.” Click here for the full story. 
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Every so often, you hear of unsavoury behaviour happening in public libraries and it seems impossible until the evidence proves  that people can be weird, incomprehensible creatures. There was the Case of the Mystery Urinator in Leaminton, Ontario in December 2012, and right now, there is more head-shaking behavior coming from Windsor, Ontario. CBC.ca reports, in Live sex shows streamed from Windsor libraries.
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*Fontainebleau branch of Windsor Public Library. Image retrieved from http://www.windsorpubliclibrary.com/?page_id=1392

More Amazing Book Art

This post is brief because I simply want to direct you to a TED video where Brian Dettmer shows his audience the wonders he creates from old books. For me, this art is fascinating. I love books, and to see them changed so completely from stacks of rectangular papers to these intricately detailed art objects is thrilling. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Harper Lee

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If you are at all acquainted with the book scene, you already know that a new book by Harper Lee is set for release this summer. ‘New’ may not be the most accurate word, since she reportedly wrote it before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, but it is just now being released. However, the joy that first came with the announcement has been tempered by some doubts about this sequel. Yes, it is a sequel, featuring an adult Scout. And, below are links to a few articles that might help to chronicle the evolution of reactions to the news about Harper Lee’s new novel:

NYTimes.com: Harper Lee, Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is to Publish a Second Novel from Feb. 3, 2015

BBC.com: Harper Lee: ‘Trade Frenzy’ and ‘concern’ over new book from Feb. 4, 2015

NPR.org: Harper Lee’s Friend Says Author Is Hard Of Hearing, Sound Of Mind from Feb. 4, 2015

BBC.com: Harper Lee dismisses concerns she was ‘pressured’ into book release from Feb. 5, 2015

And so, with baited breath, we wait for Summer 2015 when this book will be available for us to decide whether it’s a good thing or not. I do think that HarperCollins would hesitate to publish it if it weren’t very good, though..

Keeping Your Books Healthy

If your bookshelf is overflowing, and it’s time to get another one, read this first. Did you know that your bookcase could be emitting acidic gases that damage your books? This post is likely a little intense for the average person who just wants to put their books somewhere off the floor. But if you have some precious old books, or if you want to take your love for books to the next level, you might find this information helpful.

Fresh wood and wood-like substances (plywood, particle board, some laminates) that contain formaldehyde should be avoided due to the acids they emit. Formaldehyde emits formic acid, which can lead to fading pigments and weakened paper. Paper that is stored near something that contains formaldehyde can then absorb the acid it emits, and we all know what happens with acidic paper: it becomes weak and brittle (see picture below).

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The paper in the images shown here has acid in it. The yellow colour and brittleness was not caused purely from being on a wood shelf. But the acids from unsealed storage can exacerbate problems in paper that is already acidic, and it can accelerate deterioration. If you have an old wooden bookcase, then the off-gassing has already occurred and it is okay for your books to be stored there. Just remember to keep the collection well ventilated. If your wooden bookcase is not old, however, you can seal the wood so it will not emit any gases. DO NOT use oil-based anything, as the oil will emit corrosive gases. But latex paint, or air-drying enamels are okay.

More information on the subject can be found in the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s pamphlet on Storage and Handling.

A Bookbinder Near You

Does anyone out there have a book (or books) that looks like this?

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As you can probably guess, I do! Well, I did. The two books pictured above were my mother’s, and they were published in 1908. Clearly, they suffered a lot over the years, and I decided to take them to my local bookbinder, Don Taylor, so they could get a new lease on life.

Restoration specialist Kate Murdoch worked on my book, and we discussed what should be done. I wanted the two books bound into one, since the one volume was missing both covers, and we hoped that the remaining covers could be salvaged. Kate resewed the pages, making the binding tight again (shown below). The beautiful endpapers were lifted from the original covers, but alas, the covers themselves were too weak and could not be restored.

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The end result (shown below) is a beautifully tight, crisp new volume that will be around for the next hundred years.

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Thank you Kate Murdoch and Don Taylor Bookbinder! If you’re in the area and have a book or two that could benefit from a skillful restoration, here’s where to go:

Don Taylor – Bookbinder 
176 John Street, Unit 511
Toronto, Ontario
M5T 1X5
Phone: 416.591.8801
Email: dstbook@gmail.com

High School Books

In high school English class, we all had various books assigned to us. In grade 9 I read The Chrysalids and Lord of the Flies, both of which I thoroughly unenjoyed.

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In grade 10 it was To Kill a Mockingbird, and I honestly don’t remember any books from grades 11 or 12. My last year went out with a bang, featuring a spectacularly depressing book by a Canadian author, The Stone Angel. (Yes, that was back when there were 5 years of high school here. But that’s for another post. Or even another blog.)

So now I ask you, dear readers, what did you read in high school English (aside from Shakespeare)? Please share! A synopsis and your opinions would be lovely, but I don’t ask you to invest a lot of time. Just some titles and comments. I’m looking forward to comparing our experiences!