Graphic Novels?

In my December 18, 2014 posting, Intriguing!, I got to thinking about graphic novels a bit. I realized that I don’t own any, and if I want to build a well-rounded collection, I should have some in it. The problem for me is, most graphic novels are dark, both literally and figuratively. The subject matter is often less than uplifting, and the images are frequently very graphic. Go figure. So I decided that I would make it my mission to find at least one graphic novel that I like: one with pleasing illustrations, and an uplifting or at least interesting story line. And guess what? I found some.

Shaun Tan’s book, The Arrival (2007) is stunning. The illustrations reminded me right away of Chris Van Allsburg’s style, and the creativity displayed as Tan marries the age-old tale of a newcomer in a foreign land with futuristic cityscapes and animals provided a new delight on every page. At 128 pages, it’s really more of an illustrated story (there are no words), than a graphic novel, but it’s still a worthy addition to anyone’s collection and will be enjoyed by adults and children alike. For more information, check it out on Amazon.com.
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Here, by Richard McGuire (2014), is also a really neat book. As I mentioned in December, it is the story of one little piece of land  told over many centuries, with glimpses into different years together on the same page. This is definitely a novel, at 304 pages, and also worth adding to your collection. For more information, check it out on Amazon.com.
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All I Want for Christmas…

Is there one book that really stands out as a gift that made a lasting impression? There is one book that immediately comes to my mind that I received when I was 8 years old. It’s called, My Big Christmas Book by Hayden McAllister and my dad gave it to me for Christmas. I poured over it that year and continued to read and re-read it for years after. It has many short stories, as well as songs and recipes, all interspersed between 24 installments of “Muffit, the little angel,” and it’s a whopping 327 pages!

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The illustrations are charming, and the stories are heart-warming. It was a wonderful gift, and I’ve treasured it all these years.

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Is there a special book (it doesn’t have to be about Christmas) in your collection that someone gave you? What makes it special?

Book Art for Christmas

To some of us, books are sacred objects, and should be left in their natural state. To others, however, re-inventing or up-cycling a book can bring new life to one that would otherwise have sat unused and unread, gathering dust and providing no new joys or insights to its owner. With that in mind, I found some delightful tutorials on how to make festive holiday decorations using old books. May your books be merry and bright!

1. How to Make a Holiday Tree Using a Paperback Book by Jeannie Nadja

2. Recycled Book Wreath Tutorial by MadeByMarzipan

3. Christmas Crafts: Hand Made Christmas Tree Ornaments by Heather Minnow (2 out of the 3 ornaments use books)

Great Detective Fiction

As winter approaches, time spent indoors with a good book and a cup of something hot becomes more and more appealing. Something to aim for at the end of the day, even. But maybe you don’t know what to read. Perhaps you’ve read all the books from your Amazon wish list and those hours on the couch under a blanket are making you anxious because you don’t have any books waiting (unlikely for a book lover, I know).

Well, be anxious no more! I have just the thing for a chilly winter’s eve: great detective novels from the early 20th century. Do you enjoy Agatha Christie? Then you will surely like the works by these award-winning mystery writers.

John Dickson Carr – Master of the “locked room mystery” where the detective solves an impossible-seeming crime, his books are easy and delightful to read. Dr. Fell is the main detective in the books he wrote under this name, although there are a few other titles with a different detective figure. Carr is perhaps best known for The Hollow Man, published in 1935 (US title- The Three Coffins).  Carter Dickson was a pseudonym, and books under this name have Sir Henry Merrivale as the detective. Carr was prolific, and his work The Crooked Hinge (1938) is often cited as a classic of great detective fiction.

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Ngaio Marsh – More murder, mystery and detection from the 1930s make these books a fun way to spend an evening. Marsh’s first novel was published in 1934, and Death in a White Tie (1938) is one of my favorites. She wrote eight books in the 1930s, but went on writing until the early 1980s. The main detective figure in Marsh’s mysteries is British CID detective Roderick Alleyn.

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Dorothy L. Sayers – As with the others listed in this post, books by Dorothy Sayers are pure entertainment, with interesting historical aspects for the history-lover as well. Whose Body? was one of her most popular, released in 1923, although the bulk of her mysteries were written in the ’30s.  (Five Red Herrings- 1931, Have His Carcase- 1932, The Nine Tailors- 1934 and several others). Lord Peter Wimsey is her main detective figure; she and Ngaio Marsh were both “Queens of Crime” along with Agatha Christie.

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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

A Feast for Your Eyes

I just came across my new favorite website: http://bookshelfporn.com  The name is a tiny bit on the provocative side, but the pictures are safe for all ages. Fair warning, you may spend several minutes staring, followed by several hours daydreaming. If you love books, and if you have always wanted walls lined with books in your home, click here. You will not be disappointed!

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That was just a tease. Now, go. See for yourself!

More on the evils of mixing adhesives (stickies) and books

As a follow-up to my earlier post, A Book’s Worst Enemy #4 – Adhesives and metals, I have some graphic images to show you that illustrate the damage that an innocent-seeming sticky-note can do to a book! Beware – this is not for the faint of heart. This particular volume was published in 1968, so the paper isn’t as robust as it would be in a newer book, but it’s not a hundred years old, either! And LOOK WHAT HAPPENED:

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So just a word to the wise about stickiness and paper. It’s never a good idea.