Medieval book opens six ways, revealing six different texts

A XVIth Century book held in the National Library of Sweden's collection features a "sixfold dos-a-dos binding," meaning that the book could be opened in six different ways to reveal six different texts ("devotional texts printed in Germany during the 1550s and 1570s,including Martin Luther, Der kleine Catechismus"), with the hinges doubling as latches. Read the rest

The most magical little free library is inside a hollowed-out tree stump

Librarian, artist, and bookbinder Sharalee Armitage Howard of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho decided that rather than dig up the stump of the 110-year-old cottonwood tree in her yard, she'd transform it into a little free library, or rather little tree library. Her creation sparks the imagination and exudes a sense of wonder and welcoming. Like a good book.

(via Bored Panda) Read the rest

Lin-Manuel Miranda rescues New York's beloved, century-old Drama Book Shop

For more than 100 years, New York City's Tony-award-winning Drama Book Shop has been a stalwart of the city's thronging theater community; but like so many independent bookstores, it has struggled (it recently announced that it would have to leave its Times Square location on January 20 due to rent hikes). Read the rest

America's Fiber Future: Susan Crawford on how America's wired future is slipping away

No one in America explains the importance of good network policy than Susan Crawford (previously), a one-woman good sense factory when it comes to Network Neutrality, municipal fiber, and reining in the excesses of the goddamned ISP industry. Her latest book is Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution―and Why America Might Miss It, a timely and urgent look at how America is sacrificing its digital future, productivity, connectivity, social mobility, entrepreneurial growth, education, and every other public good, thanks to rapacious telcos, scumbag lobbyists, and negligent, cash-hungry politicians. Crawford and her publisher, Yale University Press, were kind enough to give us an excerpt (below) so you can get a sense of why you should be reading this. Read the rest

Why Do Birds: Damon Knight's amazing, underappreciated science fiction novel about putting all of humanity in a box

In 2002, a mysterious man is arrested for illegally occupying a hotel room: he says his name is Ed Stone, and that he was kidnapped by aliens from the same hotel room in 1931 and has just been returned to Earth, not having aged a day; the aliens have told him that Earth will be destroyed in 12 years and that before then, the entire human race has to put itself in a giant box (presumably for transport to somewhere else, though Ed is a little shaky on the details), and to help Ed with this task, the aliens have given him a ring that makes anyone who touches it fill with overwhelming good feelings for him and a desire to help him. Read the rest

Independent study guide to logic for philosophers and mathematicians

Retired Cambridge professor Peter Smith has distilled his experience in teaching philosophers and mathematicians about formal logic into a free, frequently updated (last updated: 2017) study guide to logic, constructed to be easily accessible, with quick-start guides for different kinds of learners, written on the assumption of very little education in either maths or philosophy. Read the rest

The latest Facebook scandal might explain why Amazon wrongfully banned book-reviewers

Yesterday, we learned that Facebook granted extraordinary user-data access to a handful of blue-chip companies, including Amazon. Read the rest

The new Neuromancer cover is amazing

Designed by Jon Gray and available for pre-order next week (ISBN: 9780441007462): Gibson loves it. Read the rest

Douglas Rushkoff: Join "Team Human!"

Boing Boing pal Douglas Rushkoff's new book, Team Human, is a fiery, inspiring, and ultimately optimistic call for us to fight against the divisive, commodifying agenda built into our technology, reassert what it really means to be human, and then, as Timothy Leary urged, "find the others." Above, watch Doug lay it all out in a TED Salon talk.

From TED:

Humans are no longer valued for our creativity, says media theorist Douglas Rushkoff -- in a world dominated by digital technology, we're now just valued for our data. In a passionate talk, Rushkoff urges us to stop using technology to optimize people for the market and start using it to build a future centered on our pre-digital values of connection, creativity and respect.

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Best book covers of 2018

A roundup from Lithub of the best cover art on books from this year, with commentary. There's a strong trend toward in-camera or handmade graphics and natural media, with computers only showing up to do things that you don't need computers to do. I think this is a good thing, but it inspires me to pick out Joan Wong's art for Sam Munson's Dog Symphony, which is perfectly, surreally computerized. Read the rest

Paper Girls 5: fate and free will (and dinosaurs and monsters)

For two years now, Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang have been knocking my socks off with their Paper Girls graphic novel, a mysterious, all-girl, Stranger-Things-esque romp through 1980s pop culture, time travel, conspiracies, clones, paradoxes, and you know, all that amazing coming-of-age/friendship-is-magic jazz. Now, the pair have released the fifth collection, and it's a doozy. Read the rest

Is it better to read a book or listen to it?

Daniel Willingham, a University of Virginia psychologist who wrote "The Reading Mind," says that the most common question he receives these days is the following: “Is it cheating if I listen to an audiobook for my book club?” In a New York Times essay, Willingham parses the benefits and drawbacks of both formats. Which one is better? Of course personally preference and convenience matter, but Willingham argues that generally right now when it comes to listening or reading a book, there is "equivalence for easy texts and an advantage to print for hard ones." For example, audio books provide prosody, the intonation, tone, and rhythm of the words. Sometimes, hearing those cues helps us understand the material. But not always. From the NYT:

For example, one study compared how well students learned about a scientific subject from a 22-minute podcast versus a printed article. Although students spent equivalent time with each format, on a written quiz two days later the readers scored 81 percent and the listeners 59 percent.

What happened? Note that the subject matter was difficult, and the goal wasn’t pleasure but learning. Both factors make us read differently. When we focus, we slow down. We reread the hard bits. We stop and think. Each is easier with print than with a podcast.

Print also supports readers through difficult content via signals to organization like paragraphs and headings, conventions missing from audio. Experiments show readers actually take longer to read the first sentence of a paragraph because they know it probably contains the foundational idea for what’s to come.

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3D printable Walkaway bookmarks!

Joel Bonasera liked my novel Walkaway so much that he made a 3D-printable bookmark based on Will Stahle's amazing cover art! Read the rest

A guide to the Socialist Modernist Architecture of Romania and Moldova

The BACU Association -- the folks behind the incredible brutalist Socialist Modernism Tumblr -- have announced a limited run, 800-copy book collecting photos and details on 242 Socialist Modernist "objects" in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. Read the rest

One More For the Road: The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats are back!

Back in 2007, Adam "Apelad" Koford created a marvellous, funny, weird alternate history for the then-viral phenomenon of LOLcats, running-gag memes of cats whose superimposed dialog had many odd grammatical quirks: the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats," a pair of comic-strip hobo cats straight out of the 1930s, who found obscure and clever ways to riff on our contemporary LOLcats. Read the rest

The secret history of science fiction's women writers: The Future is Female!

Eminent science fiction scholar Lisa Yaszek (Georgia Tech Professor of Science Fiction in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication) has edited "The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin," a forthcoming anthology of science fiction (and scientifiction!) by woman writers from the 1920s published last month by Library of America. Read the rest

The Fifth Risk: Michael Lewis explains how the "deep state" is just nerds versus grifters

Michael Lewis is a national treasure, whose gift for explaining how finance grifters think and operate has spawned a whole genre, which he dominates with books like Liar's Poker (an insider view of the S&L crisis); The Big Short (a character-driven, crystal-clear explainer on the financial engineering that led to the 2008 crisis), and Flash Boys (the shitty math and bafflegab behind high-speed trading); and now, The Fifth Risk: an astounding and terrifying book about the experts who fill the ranks in the US government and the Trump-administration grifters who are destroying the work they do to keep us from dying of tornadoes, nuclear accident, food poisoning and a million other dangers, large and small. Read the rest

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