readers advisory

January 2, 2008


This blog isn’t dead, it’s sleeping. Or it has Seasonal Affective Disorder, or is consumed by learning French, or is training for a marathon. In the case of our Leets, she’s a mother to a brand new baby boy, and we’re so proud.

Anyway, in this slow season, I am inclined to draw on time-tested pastimes, namely, leisure reading. Kristy prolifically book-blogs all year-round, but for me the fire comes and goes. I never understand the things about beach reading, because for me in the summer, it’s getting tan, drinking beer and chasing boys, but in the winter, its books, books, books. One of the gestures I wish I had made more as a librarian is trying to engage my colleagues with questions about what they were reading. I mean, I don’t really understand the modern sci-fi/fantasy genre, aside from Octavia Butler, but a lot of librarians love it, and I wish I had gotten someone to passionately explain it to me. Unbashful book-talking is one of the things they teach you in YA and kid lit classes, but it seems like such an innate skill to me, and one that’s so socially conditional. Why do you think Nancy Pearl is so beloved? Like, you can talk to your friends for hours about sneakers, Stevie Nicks, Willa Cather, Herzog movies, and what you want to eat for brunch,  but can you talk to a stranger, on demand about those things?

So, fellow librarians, how do you book-talk sucessfully? And more importantly, what are you reading now? I’m rereading Seduction and Betrayal in memoriam of Elizabeth Hardwick, and am slowly working through Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Summer Will Show. I’ve run through John Cheever’s stories and am halfway through a copy of Falconer  I found on the street in Park Slope a month ago. And last, but not least, have spent the past few nights buried in Ceruzzi’s A History of Modern Computing.


The greatest in Italian design since Brunelleschi’s dome.

October 10, 2007

Only your cutest volumes are allowed on nobody&co’s Bibliochaise!



September 26, 2007

Although my physical body has returned from France, I’m pretty sure my brain cells are still floating somewhere in the the Mediterranean. While I think of something brilliant and prescient to post, take a gander at this cute thing.


Say your walking to the gare in St Raphael and left your book on the beach and need something to read on the train to Nice. Cruise by this big unattended table of used books, 1 euro each. And because it works on the honor system, there’s no one around to judge you when you pick up some trashy romance novel or Ramona la peste.

And I love the signage: BookS 1 euro Don’t forget the rules!……Thanks


Back to School Shopping

August 21, 2007

In the words of my former retail manager, “I think JCrew does fall best.” Meaning that their clothes in the fall season are better than their clothes in spring or summer.
Evidence– the August 2007 catalog. As is appropriate for Back to School, there’s a whole library/book/reading theme happening–cashmere tees folded in the stacks alongside old bound issues of Pennsylvania Magazine, boots displayed on the h-k drawer of the card catalog, etc.


So committed to the reading theme, JCrew folks did a photo shoot in an actual library. On page 028 we have two young ladies perched precariously in the alcoves wearing a not-very-flattering combo of the cropped pants and deep v neck sweaters. The butch one is wearing the “men’s tartan patchwork driving cap” and the femme one has her hair in an oh-so authentic co-ed messy bun. She passes a book down from the balcony to her eagerly awaiting tartan clad friend. And there’s a little bit of trivia in the right hand corner, and suddenly its like reading Martha Stewat Living, “WHO KNEW? The library pictured here is one of the world’s oldest, most distinguished independent libraries…Can you guess the name of this beautiful Boston landmark?”

Well I was hoping to flip the catalog upside down, Highlights style, to find the answer, but instead I had to look it up. Why of course! Its the Boston Athenaeum. Any self respecting back to schooler would know.


July 29, 2007

Tiny book

Ever wished you could move yourself through works of public domain fiction and non-fiction just a bit at a time? Nostalgic for the days of serialization? Just want something to read on your e-mail when you’ve finished reading the Internet? Then sign up for one of the hundreds of books available on DailyLit and have small chunks sent to your email at the frequency of your choosing.

I’m trying out Alice in Wonderland in daily chunks — I haven’t read it since I was a kid, and it seemed somehow appropriate to the medium.

You can read more about the DailyLit project here.

[Tiny book photo comes from here.]

What’s WACK? No index.

July 17, 2007

Ever since the WACK! catalogue hit the shelves of my museum’s gift shop a few months ago I have been pretty obsessed. So thick it is with information about feminist art! And so lovely to look at! The different sections of the book are printed on different types of paper, so you get that nice stripy effect when you look at it from the side**. The book jacket features Martha Rosler’s Body Beautiful…, 1966–72, and there has been a bit of a hubbub over all those naked ladies (totally busted staring at it by coworker). But the thing about the catalogue that gets me in a huff is this: NO INDEX!.

Maybe the editors felt that the organizational structure of the catalogue was sufficient. Maybe critical essays are too much of a pain to index. Maybe they ran out of money and/or time. Now, I did not see the exhibition at LA MoCA and it isn’t scheduled to dock on the east coast until this Fall, but from what I’ve read the exhibition is purposely dense and loosely organized, freeing the visitor from the didactic chains of, say, wall text or chronology. Maybe the indexlessness of the WACK! catalogue is supposed to mimic this experience–which is said to mimic the experience of the feminist art movement itself–forcing its readers to re-experience what Carol Armstrong in May’s Artforum depicts as “the thrilling (and exasperating) chaos of the moment, the all-over-the-place-free-for-all that was those two decades,” liberated from “lame categories.”


I could talk forever about whether or not categories are lame, but there is a general expectation that any volume hovering around 500 pages should have an index. It’d be nice if, for example, while reading Howardena Pindell’s bio on page 281, I could flip to the index, learn that she’s in an essay on page 429, and see shiny reproductions of her works on page 167. I propose that, in the spirit of the movement, we organize a collective indexing effort. Contributions welcome. I’m serious.

**color reproductions of the art (white glossy); brief bios of the artists (beige matte, purple text!); critical essays (off white matte, black text and purple footnotes!, color reproductions); a chronology of all-women group shows and WACK! checklist (beige matte, purple text!)


andy hates the lottery, loves antiquarian book dealers

May 21, 2007


Just in case anyone missed 60 Minutes last night (!), Andy Rooney’s sesh took him to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, and contained Mr. Rooney’s brief analysis of the rare book trade.