Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

The History of Media Mail

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Interesting thing: I was at the post office, mailing a book to a friend (Beast – I’m so sorry! I should have sent it ages ago!) when I happened to mention that I love the media mail rate. (Instead of $12 to mail my book, it was only $3.) The postman gave me – and everyone else in line – a mini-history of the old book rate plan. It started in 1938 as a way to encourage reading, by making it cheaper to send books through the mail. More recently, the classification changed to “media mail” and it covers books and videos. For me, it’s a lifesaver. When I send books to friends, when I give away books on the website, mailing can be the most expensive part of the whole deal. (One year, I didn’t restrict a giveaway to US residents, and I spent almost $40 shipping a box of books to a winner in Canada. Ooops!) I think it’s great that the federal government gives a subsidy to the Post Office so that I can ship books to distant friends on the cheap! My tax dollars at work finally!

A Tremendous Loss

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Terry Pratchett, April 28, 1948-March 12, 2015

The Bromeliad Trilogy

An old Shelves favorite – coming to a theater near you

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Way back in 2007, my book club read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. Loved the book (I’m a big fan of real-life adventures) but it was a poor choice for the book club. There wasn’t much to debate, really – whales are big, starvation is bad – and we were all in agreement that it was a great story, quite well-written. Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble imagining it as a movie, but apparently Ron Howard doesn’t have that problem. And hey – watching Chris Hemsworth is not exactly suffering, so I’m willing to give it a try. It’s always interesting to compare the book in your head to the images on the screen. Sometimes, it’s disappointing but sometimes they get it right. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve done with this one.

A great little song & a plug for a friend

Monday, February 16th, 2015

A friend of mine at Felony & Mayhem Press passed this song along to me. They are vying for a FedEx small business grant and if you like their song, I hope you’ll vote for their business! There’s a link below to vote and you can vote once a day using your social media logins. Even if you decide not to vote, check out their song – great stuff for mystery lovers!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

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The [Book] Blizzard of 2015

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Dear Readers, I don’t know about the weather where you are but here, at The Shelves, there has been a blizzard of books! I have towering stacks of books covering just about every available surface! I am tempted to engage in some typical blizzard behavior and make a French Toast Run (go to the grocery store for eggs, milk and bread) and pretend I am snowed in with my lovely stacks of books.

Now, I have to face the fact that I may not be able to read all of these right away. I have a job. I have a social life. I have things to do that, sadly, keep me away from my reading. And if I do my usual New Books posts (2 per week), it will quite literally be months before I get to tell you about all of the books – in fact, there’s a good chance that the review will appear before the New on the Shelves post does! So, I wanted to take a minute and share this bounty with you. I will still be putting up New on the Shelves posts, because I assume if you are hanging out here you like to hear about new books. I will still be getting to the reviews as quickly as I can. But in the meantime, take a minute to click on some of these links and check out all the great new reading in our future! (And if you’re a little jealous – that’s okay. I forgive you.) So here, in no particular order, the Book Blizzard of 2015:

John the Pupil by David Flusfeder

Throne of Darkness by Douglas Nicholas

Silverblind (Ironskin Book 3) by Tina Connolly

Forgiving Maximo Rothman by A. J. Sidransky

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Mark of the Beast by Adolphus A. Anekwe

Island: How Islands Transform the World by J. Edward Chamberlain

The Forgetting Place by John Burley

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson

Monday’s Lie by Jamie Mason

The Whites by Richard Price

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Life by Keith Richards

Lucky Alan: And Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel by Paul Tremblay

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Wreckage by Emily Bleeker

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life by Brian Wansink

Now admit it – you’re jealous. And if you’re like me, a little intimidated. That is quite a reading list! I’d stay and chat, but I need to get a few pages done before the end of the day.

Awesome vending machine sells random book titles

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

I cannot tell you how much this made me smile! Thanks to MyModernMet for the story. The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookshop in Toronto, has built a fabulous vending machine. Put in $2 in quarters and get a book – a random book, any book, a completely unpredictable surprise book! For book lovers, what could be better? Who knows what undiscovered gems might be hiding in the machine?

The Biblio-Mat was built by Craig Small for The Monkey’s Paw. According to the owners, “The machine was conceived as an artful alternative to the ubiquitous and often ignored discount sidewalk bin. When a customer puts coins into it, the Biblio-Mat dramatically whirrs and vibrates as the machine is set in motion. The ring of an old telephone bell enhances the thrill when the customer’s mystery book is delivered with a satisfying clunk into the receptacle below.”

You can watch the video below to see how it works. I love the vintage look of the thing and the crazy noises it makes. I would be putting all my quarters in this thing, just to see what might come out.

The BIBLIO-MAT from Craig Small on Vimeo.

Quotables

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Enough bookshelves — I’m not sure I understand the phrase…

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”

– Anna Quindlen, American author

Bringing Classic Characters to Life

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

I stumbled across this on MyModernMet, and I wanted to share it. these little dioramas are adorable, bringing tiny illustrations of classic book characters to life. Here’s more about the project:

Thomas Allen brings literary characters to life in a charming diorama series of paper “dolls” cut from book illustrations. The tiny people he frees from the pages of vintage books display the innocent fashion of the 1940s and ‘50s. He repositions the figures in new, surprising environments: A group of schoolboys plays a game atop a solar system map, a milkman delivers bottles against a galactic backdrop, and a little girl skips rope in front of a black-and-white book page, evidently overjoyed to be unbound from the pages.

Allen drew inspiration for his project from his childhood love of View-Masters and pop-up books. He enjoys projects that visually juxtapose characters and settings. “Allen gently cuts around the shape of his figures, physically releasing them from their two-dimensional surface and then places them in a new display of meaningful interactions,” his gallery webpage explains. “His characters are brought to life from their pages and covers by detailed lighting and selective focus, ultimately telling a distinct narrative with their newly defined settings.”

MyModernMet is a great place to find interesting art projects. Check them out!

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Welcome to 2015!

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

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