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Like taking a cold bath with someone you dislike

Reviews of classic books, culled from the internet's think tank.
posted by Too-Ticky on Aug 22, 2014 - 64 comments

You're gonna need a bigger haringbuis.

Selected pages from Adriaen Coenen's Visboek, an illustrated guide to the strange and wonderful world of fish. No sixteenth-century mariner should leave shore without it. The National Library of the Netherlands has the complete book, with commentary.
posted by prize bull octorok on Aug 13, 2014 - 8 comments

"This is a book for both the new and experienced reader."

Deep Chords: Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ [New York Times] Patti Smith reviews Haruki Murakami's latest novel. Book Trailer
posted by Fizz on Aug 12, 2014 - 40 comments

Out of thousands of typefaces, all we need are a few basic ones…

…and trash the rest. Massimo Vignelli's design canon circa 2008, in PDF form.
posted by klangklangston on Aug 11, 2014 - 38 comments

The Digitized Medieval Manuscripts App

The DMMapp (Digitized Medieval Manuscripts App) is a website that links to more than 300 libraries in the world. Each one of these contains medieval manuscripts that can be browsed for free. The DMMapp is a product of Sexy Codicology, an independent project focused on medieval illuminated manuscripts and social media. It maintains a great blog about medieval manuscripts, especially those that are available online.
posted by jedicus on Aug 5, 2014 - 6 comments

Draculas? Draculae? Draculii?

The gals at Anglo-Filles have an entertaining (and epicly long) talk about the history of Dracula and vampires as characters and symbols throughout the ages and throughout fiction - topics discussed include Varney The Vampire, The Vienna Vampire Scare, Where Does Sunlight Killing Vampires Come From, The Secret Spanish Dracula, and Jonathan Harker As An Abuse Survivor.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 24, 2014 - 30 comments

“I think it was such a fluke that I got published at all,”

You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollmann: [The New Republic] Home to goddesses, dreams, and a dangerously uncorrupted literary mind.
posted by Fizz on Jul 24, 2014 - 27 comments

Mothers

Long-Lost Photos Show What Hasn't Changed About Motherhood In 50 Years. Is a collection of 50 year old photos from around the world by Ken Heyman. Taken originally for the pulitzer-nominated book Family (co-authored with Margaret Mead), they were left sitting in a storage container for decades.
posted by blue_beetle on Jul 18, 2014 - 16 comments

Illustrated Skills of the Traveller, Physician, Sailor, Martial Artist

The Art of Shen Ku is a rambling, eccentric website displaying pages of an illustrated instructional book of the same name. The site is roughly divided into four topics: Traveller, Physician, Sailor, and Martial Artist. It features heavily notated illustrations that demonstrate everything from using healthy breathing techniques and using aloe vera to learning martial art hand strikes, avoiding shark attacks, making survival shelters, and navigating. The author, Zeek, seems to be a sailor who spent much time in Asia. [more inside]
posted by ShanShen on Jul 17, 2014 - 10 comments

The Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery

The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery is an annual weekend conference discussing food, its history, and culture. Since 1981 the papers presented at the Symposium have been collected into a conference volume called the Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, most of which have been made available for free in their entirety via Google Books. Each volume consists of about 25-40 papers surrounding the theme of that year's Symposium (e.g. Eggs, Authenticity, or The Meal). [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Jul 17, 2014 - 8 comments

Also Monster Haikus

Childhood - a hand-bound book of Japanese styled illustrations paying homage to nostalgic activities and toys. From artist Chet Phillips.
posted by Lou Stuells on Jun 17, 2014 - 6 comments

The Last Shot, 20 Years On

Amos Barshad of Grantland talks to Darcy Frey and the basketball players featured in the classic book The Last Shot 20 years after the book's release.
posted by reenum on May 15, 2014 - 1 comment

Fuck Yeah 1692's Version Of Pantone!

"In over 700 pages of handwritten Dutch, the author, who identifies himself as A. Boogert, describes how to make watercolour paints. He explains how to mix the colours and how to change their tone by adding “one, two or three portions of water”. To illustrate his point he fills each facing page with various shades of the colour in question. To top it he made an index of all the colours he described, which in itself is a feast to look at. In the 17th century, an age known as the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, this manual would have hit the right spot. It makes sense, then, that the author explains in the introduction that he wrote the book for educational purposes. Remarkably, because the manual is written by hand and therefore literally one of a kind, it did not get the “reach” among painters - or attention among modern art historians - it deserves." Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian in the Netherlands, spotted scans of the book in a French scholarly database and posted it to his blog a few days ago. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on May 7, 2014 - 10 comments

Ever imagine a bug is crawling on you? I do. A lot.

A book about human reaction to insects I have trouble in the summer because I am usually suppressing the urge to scream and freak out due to the imaginary bugs that are crawling on me.
posted by Yellow on Apr 15, 2014 - 39 comments

Oxford University Press Celebrates National Library Week

In honor of National Library Week, Oxford University Press is making all of its non-journal products available online for free for the week of April 13th-19th, 2014. This includes the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Handbook series. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Apr 14, 2014 - 20 comments

Famine, Cholera, Opium, Romanticism and the Volcano That Binds Them

On 10 April 1815, Tambora produced the largest eruption known on the planet during the past 10,000 years. As described in Gillen D'Arcy Wood's new book, the explosion was only the first dose of Tambora's destructive power. In terms of its enduring presence in folklore, as well as its status in the scientific literature, 1816’s cold summer was the most significant meteorological event of the nineteenth century. After the tsunami and famine came cholera, opium, and failed Arctic expeditions. [more inside]
posted by shoesfullofdust on Apr 13, 2014 - 14 comments

The "Community" Weblog

Classic Book Titles with Sarcastic Quotation Marks [SLListicle]
posted by schmod on Apr 3, 2014 - 161 comments

Sketchbooks del Toro

Late in 2013, Guillermo del Toro released a voluminous book, entitled Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions. As he explains in the video, the 256-page hardcover is a selection from his notebooks, where the director developed many of the monstrosities we’ve seen on screen. The Guardian notes that there’s something of da Vinci’s notebooks in del Toro’s records: the small, neat script, mixed in with the wonderfully detailed sketches, combine to give the impression of del Toro doing his best to record the torrent of his imagination before the thoughts disappear. In this post, we include a number of these images.
Previously [more inside]
posted by infini on Mar 5, 2014 - 4 comments

Lord Cobham was burnt alive, but I forget what for

15 year old Jane Austen wrote a satrical history of English monarchs and now you can read it.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 25, 2014 - 19 comments

Expand your mind

Hallucinogenic Plants: A Golden Guide [PDF]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 24, 2014 - 26 comments

The Book, the Medium and the Library.

Medium has made available the first book-length content (perhaps) on its writing platform. Demanding Better Libraries For Today’s Complex World by R. David Lankes is cited as a 164 minute read. For works of this length, Medium offer a feature for bookmarking where you have read to. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Feb 20, 2014 - 3 comments

Plain But Sturdy Frontier Cake

Celebrate author Laura Ingalls Wilder's 147th birthday with a recipe for Laura's Wedding Cake, taken from Little House Cookbook, Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories. (The Hairpin)
posted by The Whelk on Feb 8, 2014 - 30 comments

New attempt to decipher the Voynich manuscript.

A new attempt to decipher the Voynich manuscript has been made - this time from a botanical perspective. The Voynich manuscript, is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The book has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer who purchased it in 1912.[Wiki]. [more inside]
posted by yoyo_nyc on Feb 4, 2014 - 89 comments

"The neighborhood has all gone t' hell"

Visiting the Big Apple? "Don't ask a pedestrian where a certain street is. He is usually too busy to stop, and if polite enough to stop, won't know. No New Yorker knows anything about New York." And another kind reminder: "Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable, notwithstanding and nevertheless. They are also smart." Advice from Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book, published in 1920. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 29, 2014 - 51 comments

Real vs. Unreal, Grotesque vs. Gorgeous

or the inner Grotesque and Gorgeous, and outer fantastic world of The End of Times: The Apocalyptic Book revealed, as it was imagined "couple" years ago. To be seen with your morning coffee.
posted by gbenard on Jan 25, 2014 - 8 comments

Incomplete, apparently

Here she discovered photographs of several of the absent illuminations, a partial ownership history, and a surprising fact: Christie’s had listed the book as “APPARENTLY COMPLETE.” In other words, the devotional had been taken apart—“broken” is the industry term—not a hundred years ago, but within the last three years. Its leaves had been stripped for individual sale by a modern-day dealer. “I was almost physically sick,” Treharne told me. “I could not believe what I had in front of me.”
posted by PussKillian on Jan 12, 2014 - 66 comments

With the usual amount of salt

The Circle of Useful Knowledge (single serving Tumblr) [via mefi projects]
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering on Jan 8, 2014 - 9 comments

Top Chef, Old Master

"If there is an assassination planned for the meal, then it is seemliest that the assassin should be seated next to he who is to become the subject of his craft" - Leonardo da Vinci: head of the kitchen, designer of horse-pulled nut-crushers, inventor of napkins, and assassination etiquette expert.
posted by The Whelk on Jan 7, 2014 - 20 comments

This is Mr Maupin. He invented San Francisco.

On January 21, The Days of Anna Madrigal, the last in the Tales of the City series, will be released. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jan 5, 2014 - 25 comments

Happy Holidays

About the only place this book hasn't been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that's about to change. Because I'm going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that's how long it takes for a batch of my mother's Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I'm going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more. And I think it's fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote. - Dan Savage reviews Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
posted by Artw on Dec 22, 2013 - 91 comments

Your tax dollars at work

The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
posted by aniola on Dec 14, 2013 - 15 comments

you can love me if you want it's not my problem

"Alt lit [previously] is accused of navel-gazing myopia, but technically any writing occurring outside of traditional institutions qualifies for the label. Everyone I know has written alt lit: every status update, every blog post, everything that has ever been said on Twitter. And Twitter, unbeknown to Jonathan Franzen, is especially literary...Which brings me to Heiko Julien," Author (and composer) of "I Am Ready To Die A Violent Death." [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 6, 2013 - 21 comments

“Storm from a clear sky”

Researchers have located a sunken World War II Imperial Japanese submarine on the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii. [more inside]
posted by bryon on Dec 3, 2013 - 33 comments

Your desert island reading list. Now with affiliate links!

Just One Book is a site that asks for the single book you'd recommend to someone. [more inside]
posted by DigDoug on Nov 25, 2013 - 42 comments

"Here's Johnny!" vs. "Boo!"

In celebration of Halloween, The Dissolve has devoted three long posts to The Shining: a keynote examining the film and King's relationship to it, a staff discussion, and a critical comparison of the film with the 1997 TV miniseries written by King. (Scrubbed the show from your brain? Let this episode of Nostalgia Critic refresh your memory.)
posted by Going To Maine on Oct 31, 2013 - 38 comments

Bras in Space

Bras in Space: The Incredible True Story Behind Upcoming Film "Spacesuit"
When we think of the Apollo 11 moon landing, what do we think of? President Kennedy’s bold vision. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s heroism (unfortunately we rarely think about Command Module Pilot Michael Collins). Perhaps we even think of the incredible engineers, rocket scientists, astrophysicists and all the other geniuses at NASA who made it possible. Now we want you to think about your grandma’s bra.
[more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Oct 29, 2013 - 20 comments

Wonderbook

Infographic shows you how award-winning science fiction is born - From Jeff Vandermeer (and collaborators) Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Trailer, website, interview.
posted by Artw on Oct 25, 2013 - 3 comments

The New York Review of Books turns 50

In February 1963, a new publication took advantage of the New York City printers strike and launched with a daring editorial: It does not, however, seek merely to fill the gap created by the printers’ strike in New York City but to take the opportunity which the strike has presented to publish the sort of literary journal which the editors and contributors feel is needed in America. The New York Review of Books is now 50. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Oct 21, 2013 - 7 comments

Andrew Wylie on publishing

"Not very many people read. Most of them drag their knuckles around and quarrel and make money. We’re selling books. It’s a tiny little business. It doesn’t have to be Walmartized." Superagent Andrew Wylie, who represents Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Elmore Leonard, and Philip Roth, among others, talks about the future of publishing, his on-again-off-again relationship with Amazon, and "effete, educated snobs who read," with the New Republic.
posted by escabeche on Oct 7, 2013 - 30 comments

"A mind as curious, subtle, and complex as yours, as mine, as anyone’s."

The book that helped me understand my son. Author David Mitchell's introduction to The Reason I Jump, a newly-translated memoir by thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida on what it's like to have autism.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 8, 2013 - 13 comments

Looking for a Restroom? Try Amazon.

Conversations with Booksellers Extensive conversations with booksellers representing nine great American bookstores. From tiny Faulkner House Books in New Orleans to goliath Powell's City of Books in Portland, discussing issues relating to bookselling in these modern times.
posted by Toekneesan on Sep 5, 2013 - 19 comments

A new library for an old city

The new central library of Birmingham (England), the largest public building of its type in Europe, is officially opened tomorrow by Malala Yousafzai. Reviews, pre-opening, have been largely positive [Independent] [Telegraph] [Guardian] [Residents] [Financial Times]. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Sep 2, 2013 - 19 comments

"In a rare feat..."

The pseudonymous author behind the critically-acclaimed mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling has been outed. And it's J. K. Rowling.
posted by Rory Marinich on Jul 13, 2013 - 140 comments

"Indiana Jones and the Book of Solomon!"

"A search that will save his love. A search that will save his life. A search that will save the world." Google Operating System uncovers an old Google/Airtel commercial from 2007 that references Indiana Jones (a bit) and is at least half as entertaining as Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. These were the tie-in billboards, here are the storyboards and this is a contemporary news article about the production.
posted by feelinglistless on Jul 3, 2013 - 11 comments

A propensity to self-subversion.

Malcolm Gladwell on the biography of economist Albert O. Hirschman.
posted by holmesian on Jun 28, 2013 - 8 comments

"I move for a 'bad court thingy'."

Scarlett Johansson is suing the author of a best-selling French novel that features her “doppelgänger.”
"The American star is challenging writer Gregoire Delacourt, and his publisher JC Lattes, after he described a character in his novel as being her "doppelgänger", or exact double. The case — if it comes to court — could make legal and literary history."

posted by Fizz on Jun 18, 2013 - 83 comments

Daily curated Tumblr of the Harvard Houghton Library

The Houghton Library is Harvard's largest for rare books and manuscripts, and the tumbler currently showcases an image a day, with a link to the record in the online catalog for anyone who wants to know more about the source or come in to see it in person.

Teddy and Alice
Abraham's homework
Ingenious Headpieces
(street scene)
What's a holometer?

posted by the Real Dan on Jun 16, 2013 - 19 comments

"It felt like I had driven back in time."

The Guardian has an excerpt of Neil Gaiman's latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. You can also watch him reading an excerpt of it, and he writes about it a bit (and links to several reviews) on his blog.
posted by Athanassiel on Jun 10, 2013 - 12 comments

The Monster of Colors Doesn't Have a Mouth

"One day I dreamed that my parents, my brothers and I went to visit three islands and I jumped into the water without protection," she wrote in her diary. "I felt like I could be in the water and not drown. I was curious and I swam into the deep water and then I saw my skeleton with my name written on it." Roger Omar collects children's dreams, and asks artists to illustrate them. [more inside]
posted by taz on Jun 9, 2013 - 18 comments

World War II’s Strangest Battle: When Americans and Germans Fought Toget

Days after Hitler’s suicide a group of American soldiers, French prisoners, and, yes, German soldiers defended an Austrian castle against an SS division—the only time Germans and Allies fought together in World War II. Andrew Roberts on a story so wild that it has to be made into a movie.
posted by cthuljew on May 13, 2013 - 26 comments

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