Philosopher Jacob Böhme had a small but enthusiastic following who created stunning fan art of his ideas. The William Law editions of his writing have beautifully designed plates that open up thirteen successive layers of illustrations nested inside one another. Read the rest
Didier Ghez is a dedicated Disney historian who has embarked on a massive, multi-volume history of the art of Disney in his They Drew As They Pleased
series from Chronicle Books; I enjoyed the first three volumes of the series, but volume 4, The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era: The 1950s
took my breath away.
Coffee Lids: Peel, Pinch, Pucker, Puncture is a beautifully-shot new book showcasing the world's largest collection of plastic coffee lids. Read the rest
Calista Brill is a legendary comics and picture-book editor, part of the powerhouse team at Firstsecond (she's my editor!), and with Cat Wishes
, a picture book that's sweet and surprising, she shows just how well she understands the form she practices.
The Aurora Award Bundle 4 includes ten books that were finalists for, or won, Canada's Aurora Award for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, including the outstanding Napier's Bones and Sean Stewart's monumental Resurrection Man. (Thanks, Derryl!)
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A decade ago, when Amazon acquired Audible, the two companies promised that they'd phase out their DRM
, which locked listeners into using their proprietary software and devices to enjoy the books they purchased. Audible never made good on that promise, and stonewalled press queries and industry requests
about when, exactly, this fairtrade version of their industry-dominating audiobook store would finally emerge.
Elly Blue (previously) writes, "Will toilet paper be a valuable commodity after society collapses? Who will help you with your reproductive rights in the coming patriarchal dystopia? Why are humans so obsessed with gender? Are bots human? These questions and many more are answered with bicycles (and feminism!) in the eleven stories found in Bikes Not Rockets, the fifth volume in the Bikes in Space series. More relevant than ever, stories in this genre inspire visions of a future beyond the narrow status quo."
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For centuries, many fine books have held a magical secret not within their pages but on the edges. Stunning fore-edge paintings are only visible when the book's pages are slightly fanned. Great Big Story introduces us to Martin Frost, one of the world's last fore-edge painters.
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It wasn't until she became an adult and a librarian, Nancy Pearl writes, that she "began to question my commitment to finishing each and every book that I began." Now she has a simple method for dropping a bad one, one obvious and plain and yet fair enough: the Rule of 50.
Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you're really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you're not, then put it down and look for another. (Always keep in mind that there's nothing to stop you from going back to it later, whether that might be in six days or six years. Or 60 years. There is many a book that I couldn't get into the first time, or even two, that I tried to read it, and then, giving it one more chance, totally fell under its spell. The book obviously hadn't changed - but I had.)
All my books will henceforth be 50 pages long, thereby obligating Nancy Pearl to read them in their entirety.
Photo: Nancy Pearl by Seattle Civic Council (CC0 1.0) Read the rest
Librairie Mollat has a lovely ongoing project where they try to match patrons and staff with book covers, and the results are often inspired. Read the rest
It's been nearly four years since the first crowdfunded collection
of Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag's webcomic Strong Female Protagonist
was published; the second volume
, published this week, traces not just the evolution of its protagonist, the superhero Alison "Mega Girl" Green, but of its creators, who have found new and amazing depths to plumb and heights to soar to.
John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night
, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.
Cyriak Harris is writing a novel titled "Horse Destroys the Universe." Cyriak has been creating strange animated GIFs and videos for more than a decade so he made a promo animation for his book-in-progress. Guess what? It's incredibly weird and amazing. From the novel description:
Life was simple for Buttercup the horse. Chewing grass in a field, gazing dreamily at passing clouds or standing at a hedge to watch the world go by. Perhaps a light nap followed by a gentle canter and more grazing, and then off to the stable for a programme of psychological tests designed to expand the boundaries of horse consciousness.
For Betty and Tim, life was also simple. Or at least as simple as life could be when you are scientists conducting neurological experiments on a horse. That is until the day they discovered their horse was conducting an experiment of its own.
Life became rather more complicated after that for Tim, Betty and Buttercup, and the ensuing struggle for control over one horse's destiny results in an intellectual arms race that takes all three of them to the edge of reality and beyond. It is a struggle that threatens to shake the foundations of civilisation and unravel the fabric of time and space. Can anyone stop this horse from destroying the universe?
Pledge on Unbound to support the completion of "Horse Destroys the Universe"
(Thanks, Paul Di Filippo!) Read the rest
In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (published in 2016, just out in paperback), Alex Soojung-Kim Pang painstakingly investigates the working lives of the likes of Charles Darwin and finds that history's most productive high-performers were working about four hours a day and slacking off the rest of the time: napping, strolling, having leisurely lunches.
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Back in May, the romance writing community was rocked by a scandal after author Faleena Hopkins started enforcing a trademark over the common word "COCKY" in the titles of romance novels; I predicted then that there would be some sociopaths who would observe the controversy and decide that it was an inspiration, rather than a warning, and start trying to use trademark to steal other words from writers and their titles.
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Peter Watts (previously
) is a brilliant bastard of a science fiction writer, whose grim scenarios are matched by their scientific speculation; in his latest, a novella called The Freeze-Frame Revolution
, Watts imagines a mutiny that stretches out across aeons, fought against a seemingly omnipotent AI.