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You eat too fast, and I understand why your antidyspeptic pill-makers cover your walls, your forests even, with their advertisements.

In 1891 author and lecturer ”Max O’Rell” (being the pen name of one Léon Paul Blouet) published an amusing account of his travels through the States and Eastern Canada - "A Frenchman In America" - that, along with the charming illustrations, reflect on then popular national stereotypes and character and is presented on Project Gutenberg in its entirely. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Jul 7, 2012 - 16 comments

Epilogue: The Future of Print

This documentary is a humble exploration of the world of print, as it scratches the surface of its future. It is built upon interviews with individuals who are active in the Toronto print community and question whether or not they expect to see the disappearance of the physical book within our lifetime. The act of reading a “tangible tome” has devolved from being a popular and common pastime to one that no longer is. I hope for the film to stir thought and elicit discussion about the immersive reading experience and the lost craft of the book arts, from the people who are still passionate about reading on paper.” — Hannah Ryu Chung, the filmaker [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Jun 26, 2012 - 20 comments

This country will self-destruct in 3 .. 2 ..

"McPhee describes two things: how Switzerland requires military service from every able-bodied male Swiss citizen—a model later emulated and expanded by Israel—and how the Swiss military has, in effect, wired the entire country to blow in the event of foreign invasion. To keep enemy armies out, bridges will be dynamited and, whenever possible, deliberately collapsed onto other roads and bridges below; hills have been weaponized to be activated as valley-sweeping artificial landslides; mountain tunnels will be sealed from within to act as nuclear-proof air raid shelters; and much more." (via)
posted by vidur on Jun 20, 2012 - 100 comments

Reading Along the Lines

Underground New York Public Library, a photo tumblr of NYC Subway riders and the books they read.
posted by zamboni on Jun 15, 2012 - 98 comments

—Money...?

Remember Infinite Summer? New challenge: Join Lee Konstantinou and the LA Review of Books in reading Gaddis’s classic 1975 novel J R this summer. They're calling it #OccupyGaddis. [more inside]
posted by skilar on Jun 11, 2012 - 20 comments

One of the best books about America I've read in a long while

Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple, in which Brown attends Jerry Falwell's evangelical Liberty University for a semester (excerpt), has been featured on MetaFilter previously, but it deserves to be looked at in more detail. What distinguishes the book is Roose's determination to look at the people behind the belief rather than just lampooning the belief itself; he writes about interviewing Falwell (and he was in fact the last person to interview Falwell before his death), and about his uneasiness about finding the likable, human elements that went alongside the fanaticism. After publication, Liberty University allowed the book in its bookstore, but inserted a three-paragraph disclaimer warning readers of inaccuracies and telling them to be skeptical; Roose rebuts the disclaimer. An English professor at Liberty University offers an interesting perspective. Meanwhile, Roose runs a blog series called Meet Jerry's Kids, in which he interviews LU students, and The Jonah Project, where he encourages people who disagree politically or religiously to have reasoned, yelling-free discussions about the novel.
posted by Rory Marinich on May 31, 2012 - 43 comments

“It's about as far from the theme as you could possibly get.”

A Grade 11 student, with a summary of Sean Dixon's novel The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal due in two days, gets help from the author. It does not go particularly well.
posted by scruss on May 16, 2012 - 138 comments

“I suppose the first thing I should do is apologize for the billions of dead.”

A famously reclusive writer, John Swartzwelder is responsible for many of The Simpson's iconic episodes. He stopped writing for the show in '04 and began to self-publish a series of increasingly absurd Sci-Fi Detective novels.
posted by The Whelk on May 16, 2012 - 47 comments

Read No Evil

Dalal al-Mutairi, the senior book censor for the Kuwaiti government, sits down for a chat about her job and what it entails.
posted by reenum on May 15, 2012 - 38 comments

This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike’ by Augusten Burroughs

This is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. is Augusten Burroughs' new self-help book (reviews here, here, and here), one which scorns the genre cliches of goal-setting and affirmations in favor of a hard-nosed philosophy of self-honesty based on lessons learned from his own background of abuse, neglect, and rape. In an interview with CNN, he gives snippets of his views on subjects like the harm of people "clinging to a dream which maybe they don't actually have the talent to do", suicide ("it doesn't release you, it adds a new layer of horror") and the quest for thinness ("the brain is magnificent and to focus on your gastrointestinal track is a complete waste"). (previously)
posted by shivohum on May 14, 2012 - 42 comments

The Use Of Aslan Or Morpheus Is Cheating

Tor.com asks: So Who Would Make Up The Epic Fantasy Version Of The Avengers?
posted by The Whelk on May 10, 2012 - 169 comments

est est est!

Founder of est, Werner Erhard has a new project [more inside]
posted by Ideefixe on May 6, 2012 - 85 comments

The History of Bowie in 100 Objects

With fans struggling to come to terms with David Bowie's musical hiatus and likely retirement, any new Bowie-related material has been eagerly pursued. Last year, the leak of the unreleased album Toy (previously) slaked the thirst of those needing a Bowie fix. Last week, an unauthorized preview of another Bowie project emerged— Bowie: Object. First announced in 2010, the book features 100 objects from Bowie's archive, with text written by the man himself.
posted by kimdog on Apr 25, 2012 - 12 comments

I married adventure

Before Joy Adamson went to Africa, before Margaret Mead sailed to Samoa, before Dian Fossey was even born, a Kansas teenager named Osa Leighty married Martin Johnson. Whether dancing to jazz in Congorilla or meeting headhunters in Borneo, her life with Martin ultimately led to hours of pioneering documentary footage, books, movies and more. Her autobiography inspired a Kate Spade purse, a perfume and her marriage an entire line of clothing while her joie de vivre put her on the cover of a book on trailblazing women of history. Osa Johnson went on to become a character in a play, in a poem while her married life gave birth to a museum (or two). When Osa met Martin, she married adventure.
posted by infini on Apr 19, 2012 - 4 comments

"...for the next tour, I’ll either be calm and collected or nervous with a dangerously out-of-control boner."

The Awl: Nine Writers and Publicists Tell All About Readings and Book Tours
posted by zarq on Apr 12, 2012 - 18 comments

"That roars so loud and thunders in the index."

Birth of a Book [Vimeo] A short vignette of a book being created using traditional printing methods. For the Daily Telegraph. Shot at Smith-Settle Printers, Leeds, England. The book being printed is Suzanne St Albans’ 'Mango and Mimosa' published as part of the Slightly Foxed series. Shot, Directed & Edited by @Glen Milner
posted by Fizz on Mar 30, 2012 - 4 comments

Good thing he didn't hack that box open with a carpet knife!

In 2007, a 15th-century illuminated manuscript returned to the George Peabody Library in Baltimore after going missing over 40 years ago. [more inside]
posted by Quietgal on Mar 29, 2012 - 12 comments

The wizard under the hill

Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen trilogy is to be concluded with Boneland, over 50 years after it started.
posted by Artw on Mar 16, 2012 - 30 comments

Purim Schpiel 2012!

The Book of Purim (Hasa Diga Eebowai). The students from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Year-in-Israel class 2011-2012 present, "The Book of Purim!" A Purim Parody of "The Book of Mormon" (SLYT, long but worth it.)
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Mar 8, 2012 - 7 comments

LBJ, Saint

JFK, Monster? [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Feb 10, 2012 - 114 comments

Yugo Lada

To get one large point out of the way: In the new book, The Socialist Car: Automobility in the Eastern Bloc, several contributors rapidly acknowledge the oxymoron of the title as well as the practice of owning a car in the former Soviet Empire. The private automobile, that avatar of western individualism, is difficult to square with collectivist notions. And once its owners were at the wheel, these socialist automobiles were often difficult to reconcile with notions of mechanical reliability. More than one contemporary joke appears in the text; the introduction, for instance offers, “Why does a Trabant have a heated rear window? To keep your hands warm when pushing it.” All that aside, the collection of essays edited by Lewis Siegelbaum, is a fascinating look at automobile use, production, and urban planning behind the Iron Curtain. It reveals a system that, if far from socialist or egalitarian in origin, created a culture of automobile use distinct from the western world.
posted by infini on Jan 28, 2012 - 23 comments

Present Tense!

First recorded 50 years ago, Peter Paul and Mary's Puff the Magic Dragon has a rather sad ending: Puff 'sadly slips into his cave' while little Jackie Paper grows up and puts his childhood behind him. But in 2007, Peter Yarrow published a book, Puff, the Magic Dragon, in which the classic song remains the same, but whose illustrations give us a new glimpse into Puff's future. Here is Mr. Yarrow, performing the song with his daughter Bethany at Woodstock's Bearsville Theatre, in '07. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 27, 2012 - 49 comments

How thick is your bubble?

Charles Murray, author of the controversial 1994 work The Bell Curve, has a new book coming out, entitled Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010. He's included a twenty-five question, weighted quiz to get a feel for how in touch you are with mainstream, blue-collar American culture. It's not automated, so you'll need pen and paper. [more inside]
posted by valkyryn on Jan 26, 2012 - 358 comments

When a benefit is suggested for men, the question asked is: "Will it benefit men?" When a benefit is suggested for women, the question is: "Will it benefit men?"

Are Women People? A writer for The Hairpin discovers the satirical poetry of Alice Duer Miller.
posted by flex on Jan 20, 2012 - 44 comments

10 Alternative Book Covers/Film Posters

10 Alternative Book Covers/Film Posters to celebrate the launch of the Penguin Design Award 2012.
posted by Pilly on Jan 17, 2012 - 10 comments

Plotto

William Wallace Cook, seeking to help mechanize the art of novel writing, came up with the 1462 possible plots for all stories. He then devised the Plotto system, whereby an author need only consult the book of plots to construct the next best seller.
posted by reenum on Jan 8, 2012 - 58 comments

Googly-enheim.

The Guggenheim Museum is claiming to be the first museum to begin issuing new exhibit catalogues as e-books for purchase. But even more exciting to the 20th century art history nerd, they've also partnered with the Internet Archive to offer free digitized versions of out-of-print catalogues going back to the 1930s. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Jan 8, 2012 - 12 comments

Deus Est Machina

In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 27, 2011 - 39 comments

A not so uplifting work...

David Brin on Atlas Shrugged, the book and movie
posted by Artw on Dec 20, 2011 - 66 comments

The Hobbit - There in 1977 and Back Again in 2012

As the trailer for Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Hobbit premieres online, it's worth remembering that this isn't the first take on the journey of one Bilbo Baggins. There was the 1977 animated version as well. Here's some screencaps and a trailer. Of course, if that's not enough for you, you could just watch it on Youtube (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). And before it was a film, it was something called... a book? Here's pictures of the cover of this 'book' thing from all over the world.
posted by Effigy2000 on Dec 20, 2011 - 126 comments

Dear Batman, Please send me a Batman button. The only button I have says vote for Goldwater.

Dear batman,
Your television program is keen. The greatest thing is the theme song. Could you please tell me which opera your theme song is from.
Yours truly, Barbara L., Long Beach. Calif.

So begins one of the many missives written to Batman and catalogued in Bill Adler's 1966 book, Funniest Fan Letters to Batman. Featured in this week's episode of WireTap (MP3 link) where you can hear some of the letters read (starting around 15:20).
posted by goingonit on Dec 19, 2011 - 24 comments

Don’t Support Your Local Bookseller

Farhad Manjoo of Slate argues that buying books from Amazon is better than buying from local bookstores.
posted by reenum on Dec 15, 2011 - 183 comments

The Little Anarchist Collective That Could

George Whitman, founder of the Parisian landmark bookstore Shakespeare And Company, has died at the age of 98
posted by The Whelk on Dec 14, 2011 - 49 comments

Voynich Manuscript, Online

The Voynich Manuscript (many previously) has been uploaded in its entirety online for your leisurely perusal by Yale's Beinecke Rare Book Library. [via]
posted by SomaSoda on Nov 29, 2011 - 19 comments

Audubon - Birds of America

Audubon's "The Birds of America" has been mentioned here before (1 2). The University of Pittsburgh's digital library has now made available zoomable high-resolution scans of each page of the first 'double elephant' folio edition, as well as a scanned copy of his Ornothological Biography, which is an entertaining read in itself. [more inside]
posted by carter on Nov 27, 2011 - 18 comments

From IDEA to SOCIAL MEDIA.

Life Cycle of a Book: Writer. Editorial. Agent. Production. Design. Marketing. Publicity. Sales. Book Buyer. Distribution. Author Publicity. Full Life Cycle [PDF]
posted by Fizz on Nov 14, 2011 - 9 comments

All Hallow's Read: because there aren't enough traditions that involve giving books

"This Halloween, give somebody a scary book, to read. That's it. That's the idea. It's going to be a tradition." It's an idea Neil Gaiman came up a year ago. It's called All Hallow's Read, with a website and everything, which has book recommendations of all sorts, plus stickers, bookmarks, cards, and a small story you can print off, as well as a poster contest for next year's event. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 31, 2011 - 22 comments

"Gotta peel the banana before you can eat it!"

How the Joy of Sex was illustrated. [BBC] Forty years ago, a London publisher was working on a groundbreaking sex manual - a "gourmet guide" to sexual pleasure, with copious and detailed illustrations. But how could this be done tastefully and legally?
posted by Fizz on Oct 27, 2011 - 26 comments

"IT TOOK 'EM A YEAR TO CHEW THE GUM ! !"

The Most Peculiar History of the Chewing Gum Man, by Gelett Burgess
posted by boygeorge on Oct 21, 2011 - 4 comments

It Was A Pleasure To Burn

6 Reasons We're In Another 'Book-Burning' Period in History isn't the usual Cracked list. S Peter Davis talks about his job walking through library warehouses and destroying tens of thousands of often old and irreplaceable books.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn on Oct 11, 2011 - 152 comments

"...coppers are easy to write for; they tend to run on rails."

Snuff, Sir Terry Pratchett's 50th book (and 37th Discworld book) will be released in the U.S. tomorrow, and Neil Gaiman has interviewed him for Boing Boing. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 10, 2011 - 47 comments

Bookseller/Zine Publisher/Free Speech Hero

"Born Shigeyoshi Murao in 1926, he was universally known as Shig. His playful demeanor—not to mention his signature beard, Pendleton shirts, Royal Air Force exercise vest, horn-rimmed glasses, and bowler—rendered him unforgettable. But that did not make him easy to know. Shig, who died in 1999, is largely remembered for an event that occurred on June 3, 1957, when two undercover agents from the San Francisco Police Juvenile Squad showed up at City Lights to buy a seventy-five-cent book of poetry." [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Oct 5, 2011 - 10 comments

Make Picard human again

The Star Trek Quiet Book, by the author of The Jedi Quiet Book
posted by Toekneesan on Sep 30, 2011 - 35 comments

Reamde by Neal Stephenson has been released

Reamde - Neal Stephenson's much anticipated book, has just been released. Perhaps you can ask Neal questions at one of his book-signings. I know I've got some questions about Bitcoin and what he thinks of his 1995 predictions now with the latest happenings over at Mt Gox. :)
posted by jackspace on Sep 20, 2011 - 169 comments

Obama White House called "hostile workplace to women"

A new book says women have been marginalized in Obama's White House, according to an article in the Washington Post. Former communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying the White House "fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women." The book also quotes an unnamed official saying that "the boys' club" was not "just Larry [Summers] and Rahm [Emanuel]," but that Obama himself was responsible: "The president has a real woman problem." [more inside]
posted by John Cohen on Sep 18, 2011 - 117 comments

The Gift to Humanity That Keeps on Giving to Lawyers

The Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, the Union Des Écrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois (UNEQ) along with 8 individual authors (including Fay Weldon) has sued the university consortium HathiTrust over its plans to allow internal institutional access to book scans that HathiTrust members received from Google which HathiTrust believes to be orphaned works. As usual, MeFi's own James Grimmelmann has the best analysis of the suit.
posted by Toekneesan on Sep 13, 2011 - 10 comments

Alright, so for our happy little desert, we're going to want to start with some "blue of the ibad" on our brush...

The many covers of the Dune series. / Dune fan art found on deviantart, and other, different fan art, and some even more fan art. (Dune art previously)
posted by curious nu on Sep 1, 2011 - 32 comments

The plane the plane

This month Penguin launches a redesigned series of six classic titles, called Penguin Ink. But the ‘ink’ is not printers ink, but that of a more visceral kind.
posted by infini on Aug 27, 2011 - 54 comments

Tell my wife I love her very much

Illustrator Andrew Kolb asks Have you ever listened to a song and your mind's eye is immediately filled with visuals? David Bowie's Space oddity as a childrens book. [more inside]
posted by Sailormom on Aug 27, 2011 - 61 comments

We are all a bunch of Winnie the Poohs

Jed Perl reviews "Thomas Kinkade: The Artist in the Mall"
posted by vidur on Jul 18, 2011 - 67 comments

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