The Divide: important new documentary about income inequality based on "The Spirit Level"

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Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson's 2011 book The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger was an instant classic for the way it described the impact of wealth inequality on the lives of both poor and rich people, driving them both to completely unsustainable working lives that destroyed their families and made them deeply unhappy. Read the rest

Feathers – A sublime meditation on the brilliance of the bird feather. Released today!

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

We live in a world of backgrounded miracles, entire worlds of wonder and beauty that we either can’t see or stopped noticing a long time ago. Look closely at the wings of a fly on your window sill, stare into a bisected piece of fruit, or look carefully at a growth of mold on a dish. Millions of such micro worlds surround us, breathtaking examples of design, engineering, and evolutionary artistry. When we bother to look.

Feathers is a photographic examination of one such overlooked natural wonder, the lowly bird feather. A single bird has thousands of feathers, of different types, and there are some ten-thousand species of birds. Feathers takes a broad view of the evolution of the bird and its feathers while focusing its lens on the plumage of 75 or so notable species. Each species gets a few pages, with one or two impressively photographed feather close-ups and a brief explanatory text.

This book reminded me a lot of Rose Lynn Fisher’s BEE (which I loved). Both books are minimal in content and feel, but that only helps to narrow and maintain your focus on the world under examination. The text in Feathers doesn’t try to tell you everything about the species of the bird and feather that you’re looking at, but the bits of fascinating science it does contain are probably far more memorable. Like BEE, I felt like I got to peer into a world I don’t normally see and came away greatly enriched by the experience. Read the rest

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye: A Novel

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

A gloomy, nine-story mansion, perched on a plateau in a desolate countryside. A trench-coated, top-hatted visitor stands in an illuminated doorway, a tiny, frog-faced boy dwarfed by this imposing figure, as he stands on a checkerboard-tiled floor, the scene ringed by an ornate, circular frame. Taking up two pages, his aunt and uncle sit at a very long dining room table. The boy's aunt accuses him, a black word balloon contains the word "Liar!" in calligraphic script. The boy uses the reflection of an algae-filled basin to read the mysterious page of a handwritten journal, its letters written in ornate, backwards cursive.

Warren, a peculiar-looking child with a toad-like face and a luxurious head of hair, is the 13th descendent of the founder of the now-decrepit hotel where he lives with his lazy uncle and mean aunt. Hidden within the walls of the rundown hotel is the All-Seeing Eye, a mythical treasure. Rumors of its existence brings untold numbers of treasure hunters to his family's hotel, including a mysterious lodger covered in bandages. The nine-story-high mansion begins to be ransacked by these new guests, its furniture toppled, its floorboards pulled up, its carpets unraveled, all in the search for the treasure. A pale spectral girl lurks in the hedge maze, and a strange tentacled creature dwells in the boiler room. Warren's only friends are Chef Bunion, and his tutor, Mr. Friggs, but his circle of new friends begins to grow in unexpected ways. Read the rest

Explore a life without consequences in 'My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday'

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Jason Ayres' My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is a unique time travel novel that spun my head! Ayres' lead, Thomas Scott, lives his life backwards and experiences no consequences for his actions.

Waking up on his death bed with no memories, Thomas Scott expects to be ending his life. The next day, however, he wakes again! Only to find out that he's now living the day previous to his last, things start to get interesting. Scott discovers he is living life backwards, and hopes the actions he is taking lead to a better future for his friends and family, but he'll never find out. Scott never experiences the consequences for his actions, which leads him down paths one might not anticipate.

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is certainly a unique and fun approach to time. This is a fresh take on the genre.

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday by Jason Ayres via Amazon Read the rest

Motel owner spent 30 years spying on his guests' sex lives, considered himself a "researcher"

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In 1980, New Yorker stalwart Gay Talese received a handwritten note by special-delivery: it was from Gerald Foos, a Colorado motel owner, and he revealed that he had been spying on his customers' sex lives for decades and taking meticulous notes, which he offered to share with Talese for his upcoming book, Thy Neighbor's Wife, a now-classic investigation into the hidden sex lives of Americans. Read the rest

Outliers: the statistical mysteries that hold the key to understanding

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John Johnson and Mike Gluck's new book, Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day is a tour-de-force of statistical literacy. This excerpt, a chapter on understanding statistical outliers, is as clear an explanation of what an outlier is, and what it means, and why it matters, as you're likely to find.

Rare Shakespeare's First Folio found in Scottish isle

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A rare copy of Shakespeare's First Folio turned up on a Scottish island, reports the BBC. Only 230 copies are known to exist, or thereabouts, and the last to be sold fetched £3.5m (about $5m) in 2003 and £2.8m in 2006. Countless fakes are knocking around, too. This copy of the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623, was found at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute. Academics who authenticated the book called it a rare and significant find. ... Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare studies at Oxford University, said her first reaction on being told the stately home was claiming to have an original First Folio was: "Like hell they have." But when she inspected the three-volume book she found it was authentic.

The folio represents the first legitimate compendium of Shakespeare's work; we wouldn't have much of Macbeth were it not for its publication, among many other works preserved in it. Read the rest

The Nameless City: YA graphic novel about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour

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Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling, Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong) is back with the first volume of a new, epic YA trilogy: The Nameless City, a fantasy adventure comic about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour.

Parent Hacks: illustrated guide is the best kind of parenting book

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The latest incarnation of Parent Hacks is the best yet: Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids, with illustrations from Craighton Berman.

Garden: XKCD's latest maddening, relaxing webtoy

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The latest XKCD is Garden, a webtoy that invites you to position lamps, adjust their spectrum and focus, and wait while your garden grows. Read the rest

Sex Nun of Dune

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Posted without context or comment. Read the rest

An early peek at 'The Jungle Book,' new Disney live-action remake of Kipling classic

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Disney today released two new clips and a new little featurette from the studio's upcoming live action film “The Jungle Book.” I'm also loving the stunning poster art for the new film by Vincent Aseo, shown above in detail and below in full.

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Among a Thousand Fireflies: children's book shows the sweet, alien love stories unfolding in our own backyards

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Rick Lieder -- painter, illustrator, photographer, husband of the brilliant novelist/playwright Kathe Koja -- waits ever-so-patiently in his suburban Detroit back-yard with his camera, capturing candid, lively photos of bees, birds, bugs, and now, in a new book of photos with a beautiful accompanying poem by Helen Frost, fireflies.

Kickstarting a history of women and free speech in comics from CBLDF

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Charles from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund sez, "CBLDF is kickstarting She Changed Comics, a history of how women changed free expression in comics!" Read the rest

Whatever happened to utopian architecture?

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The Tale of Tomorrow: Utopian Architecture in the Modernist Realm collects photos and commentary about the mid-century heyday of utopian architecture, from Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti to Bangladesh's National Assembly Building. Read the rest

Science Comics: Dinosaurs!

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Every volume of Science Comics offers a complete introduction to a particular topic -- dinosaurs, coral reefs, volcanoes, the solar system, bats, flying machines, and more.

How to Talk About Videogames: a book that is serious (but never dull) about games

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Ian Bogost's How to Talk About Videogames isn't just a book about games -- it's a book about criticism, and where it fits in our wider culture. Bogost is the rare academic writer whose work is as clear and exciting as the best of the mainstream, and whose critical exercises backfire by becoming enormous commercial/popular successes.

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