Shabby Background

Thursday, August 30

A heavenly library has a book fountain

[caption id="attachment_13522" align="alignleft" width="259"] Bookshelf Wallpaper by Young & Battaglia[/caption]

When books die do they go to heaven? I like to think they do. Earlier I lamented the gradual departure of bookshops here and there. It is  bittersweet to succumb to book depression. Then something came up which made me think that in a traditional book lover's space this would be perfect - "a heavenly library." Or at least the look of it. Young & Battaglia is the creative genius behind this bookshelf wallpaper idea showcased by Design Year Book.

"White books on white shelves." How peaceful is that! And to me it is quite a comfort to see reminders of traditional books like this if they have to be driven off our lives by e-readers. On a fashionista note, it looks like an intelligent sort of background for a photoshoot with a dark-clad reading model, does it not?

Let's go to Budapest. Just a 5-second show that may stretch your fascination to five minutes or more: [youtube width="250" height="200"][/youtube] If you have encountered these bookish delights earlier somewhere, well, it was fun sharing them again with you in my nook.

Friday, August 24

Lace and Expectations

"Lace is a thing like hope. It is beauty; it is grace.
It was never meant to destroy so many lives."

Lace also usually associates well with tenderness, delicateness.  But how does it end up destroying lives? Author Iris Anthony weaves a story of "fleeting beauty, mad obsession and ephemeral hope." Ruins of Lace is for historical fiction fans, and is going to be published on October 1st 2012. More info here.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 7:  Charles Dickens...[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150"] Charles Dickens' great-great-great-grandchildren, Rob Charles Dickens, and Rachel Dickens Green, lay flowers at the grave during a ceremony at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the English novelist on February 7, 2012 in London, England. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)[/caption]

Remember Pip, the orphan who rose to wealth, and got affected by the improvement of his circumstances? If you think you have seen Pip somewhere in the news last week, I don't blame you. The novel was written long before our grandparents' parents existed. But don't we all mind a good story about being humbled after a stint with arrogance? Published in 1860 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens depicts life in Victorian England.

If you like old English masterpieces, chances are you did not miss the 1998 film adaptation of this book. A 2012 version is just around the corner, and is packed with a stellar cast - Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, along with a couple of promising newcomers. Mike Newell directs.

Canada will be first to watch it in September. New Zealand, Ireland and the UK will follow in November; Germany in December and Russia - January 2013. Check the trailer -

Saturday, August 18

Disappearing bookshops

In the world of books and authors and the business people among them, things and people come and go just like everywhere else. Stephen Covey, familiar isn't he?, of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame passed away at 79 last month, July 16th. Bookseller Irving Oaklander, is also dead at 88 on August 8th. I am not very familiar with Oaklander but certain words in a tribute written for him by Steven Heller endears me to the kind of person he was -

"... he kept a booth at the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair... beckoning all passersby to feast their eyes as they page through the material.... He invited me to his Upper West Side book business... the main bookcase -the spines said it all. Indeed, Irving had them all. Every classic and many obscure volumes that I would have died for then... Irving was the Trader Joe of rare design books."

It's not just book people leaving. Bookshops are too. With the full-blown utilization of the internet our reading lives have been revolutionized by e-readers. Amazon, what a giant! We see traditional bookshops disappearing. We mourn, yes and then what? Mourning does not exactly resurrect dead bookshops.

 (Photo credit: beckvalleybooks)

Fortunately everything is not dead or lost yet. Hope is alive as there are still a few bookstores existing around us. This is where we are advised to invest in our hope. In other words stop lamenting and put your money behind what you love. When a bookstore is in danger of being closed down, do something.

St Mark's Bookshop in New York is in danger of being closed down due to high rental costs. Karen the Small Press Librarian lists ten reasons why people should help the bookshop survive. The scenario is not so different from the future of other bookstores anywhere else in the world. There is one among Karen's reasons that I think we can relate with - the bookshop is "not just a place that sells (and curates) culture and history, it IS living history." Isn't it quite compelling when put like that? Any book lover in his right mind and heart would not be willing to part with such a thing of beauty as a bookshop without first putting up a fight, i.e. investing in hope.

Thursday, August 9

Branching out

In this post: Booking Through Thursday and Thursday Thirteen

Amy asks:
Name a book you love in a genre you normally don’t care for. What made you decide to read it? Did it make you want to try more in that genre?

Harry Potter, and I ended up reading all seven books in the series. Broomsticks and cauldrons, wands and potions, what in the name of Merlin's beard are they?.... I recall my own snigger at these things; look up my book shelf where the books are lovingly piled, and think of telling the sister-in-law how she influenced me to read HP.

Because I'm sure she has no idea what she's done. She was holding a wineglass in one hand and HP2 in the other over a meal during one family get-together. The cover I saw was of Harry dangling from the flying car above the Yorkshire Moors. I wouldn't have been curious if she was a ninth grader, but she's a medical doctor. Okay, she's a globe trotter too so maybe it was a book she did not finish from some trans-atlantic flight, but what business would a decent dermatologist have with petrificus totalus or wingardium leviosa?

That got my nostrils on the magical pages of HP for long, delightful hours and almost tempted me to steal a chapter or two at work. Curiosity could have killed the cat.

Bookish Sarah asks an interesting assortment of questions:
What genre do you avoid reading and why?

Erotica and dark fantasy (some call it a sub-genre) - I don't last long in these genres. I get bored easily and then I go particular with money value.

Thursday Thirteen: I write like...

A haiku poet invited me to join his haiku meme. I went strolling around his site, and found a charmingly interesting widget that says he writes like Charles Dickens. There was a link so I hopped over there, and as I'm no writer, you could imagine what fun I got out of checking

"which famous writer I write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers."

Here we go ---

1. As I’m someone who still loves having traditional books around, I say that’s the spirit! ~ E-books v. printed books, and whether a Kindle loaded with a thousand books would weigh heavier than one with only a hundred books.


2 Utmost love most pure / divinely capable of / crimson sacrifice ~ Love at Calvary (an Easter haiku)

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


3 In Hua Hin Hills visitors can tour vineyards in a way you normally can’t in Burgundy or Tuscany: riding on an elephant. Vineyards of Thailand

I write like
William Gibson

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

4. Built in world war two / the Spanish house stood / along the road /
Capiz shells made up its windows... / Out came “yakan, yaweh…” ~ Casa Embrujada, a free verse written for Halloween

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


5 It miffed my mother who was worried it was senility progressing... she sways her hips to imaginary music. ~ Waltzing Rosario, about my waltz-loving Grandma

I write like
Margaret Mitchell

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


6. I’ll pass those up.... My money is getting spent on time-tested quality entertainment – ballet and opera. ~ on Lady Gaga's Bad Bangkok Romance

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


7 Those nights of Wuthering Heights chain-smoking til 3 a.m.... and as enigmatic as Enigma. ~ reminiscing Mea Culpa

I write like
Stephenie Meyer

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


8 Just when I was about to send it over, I realized that if I were offered a place, the very topic I built a case on would send me back to Thailand for data-gathering. ~ Austenuating Jane Austen

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


9 “A quality haiku. Just the right amount of zest” says a published UK novelist/poet of my first attempt at a meme called Haiku Heights. ~ Pirouette

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


10 He congratulated her for passing some national exam. They bumped into each other at the luncheon that followed... ~ Christmas without you

I write like
Vladimir Nabokov

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


11 "Austenuating a fire in my head" - an old tagline

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


12 If it’s made by Shangri-la and no other I’d actually eat it. This one looks like a throat clogger. I won’t take the risk. ~ on being shown a hideous fruit cake and asked if I would eat it

I write like
Margaret Atwood

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


13 It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blogger in possession of a Jane Austen addiction must be in want of more Jane Austen adaptations. Now isn't this obvious?

I write like
Jane Austen

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!



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Friday, August 3

E-books v. printed books

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.
Georgia Borders store. (Wikipedia)

In a reading world where the trend has gone as electronic as Kindle or Kindle Fire, we hear talks of booksellers worrying about sales of traditional books or worse, going out of business. The lot are wary of ebooks but not Michael Popek, author of Forgotten Bookmarks who is also a used bookseller in Oneonta, N.Y.

Popek cited one good point why he is not afraid of the new reading medium: "e-books can't replicate some experiences that readers of the printed word are after - the collector of modern first editions; the new mother passing her childhood favorites down to the next generation; the reader of forgotten and esoteric texts unavailable digitally--all are seeking out an experience greater than the words on the page."  He goes on to comment on each kind of book -
E-books are fantastic at keeping us reading; traditional books are great at reminding us why we started in the first place. We're fortunate to live in a world where we don’t have to decide on one or the other.

As I'm someone who still loves having traditional books around, I say that's the spirit! I love keeping a bookshelf. My king-size bed is littered with books and I'm enjoying the sight. I feel uneasy if I could not buy books at least once a month. Traditional booksellers will always find a buyer in me, and it will probably be like that for awhile.

But I don't mind a Kindle either. The NY Times sciences section poses this question: "When an e-reader is loaded with thousands of books, does it gain any weight?"

I haven't wondered about that but now I do. And a U.C. Berkeley professor of computer science answers 'yes, sort of.'  Here's the technical explanation:

"... the amount is very small, on the order of an atogram. This amount is effectively unmeasurable. It is also 'only about one hundred-millionth as much as the estimated fluctuation from charging and discharging the device's battery'"

Whatever our purpose for reading or acquiring books, here's to more lovely experiences with the word, electronic or printed.

Thursday, August 2

How does sleep come?

"Grandma, I don't know how to sleep." - CJ, last night

Thus says the kiddo. And that statement intrigued me. Grandma had to pull him out of class the day before and take him to a doctor due to a stomach ache. Whatever medication the doctor gave him, he slept the rest of the day and that might well be the reason why that night he didn't know how to sleep anymore. 

So when I checked my Shelf Awareness newsletter and found "How Does Sleep Come?" I thought I would enter the link that invites possible readers and buyers of the book to win a free ARC (Advance Reading Copy). I like what I saw although the fill-in-the-gaps form looks like the ARC is only for US residents.   Nevertheless it sounds opportune to my little guy's sleeping predicament and I am happy to share with you some info of this lovely, new bedtime classic.

It is a picture book debut of Jeanne Blackmore, a granddaughter of Roger Duvoisin whose tradition of creating beautiful books for children is well-known among readers, reviewers, lovers of children's books. Notice how Blackmore writes simply but poetically which makes How Does Sleep Come an ideal sleepy time tale:
“How does sleep come?” Jacob asked his Mama as he climbed into bed. Jacob’s Mama tucked the covers all around Jacob just so, and then she told him. “Sleep comes quietly. Like a snowfall that blankets a meadow on a dark starry night, and lays down a soft white canvas for rabbits to leave footprints.”

Jacob closed his eyes.
And the snow fell.
And the fog rolled in.
And the clouds drifted.
And the cat purred.
And quietly, silently, softly, peacefully, gentlyJacob fell asleep

If you might be interested in the ARC go to this link. The book is coming September 2012 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

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