Thursday, October 29, 2009

chronicles of narnia

I read The Chronicles of Narnia to my son, over the course of the last year or so. We have the one volume, paperback version, illustrated by Pauline Baynes.

It is well known that the Chronicles are morality stories for children based both on the Christian bible and a romantic system of justice where the power of God is enforced by the sword, in hands of children, hand picked by the Son of God to root out evil. The seed of which was let loose into the world by the same God.

Lots of parallels and allegory here, but buried in escapist fun for kids. The stories are dream-inspiring, and in lots of ways dream-fulfilling because of their common basis in our real world. Lewis makes his Narnia accessible to children in the way Lewis Carroll did with Wonderland, or J. M. Barrie did for Neverland, but with a difference; Narnia has a realness, a seriousness to it, more like Tolkien's Middle-earth.

But Narnia is unique. Narnia is both accessible and 'real' but what I think really connects Narnia with it's readers, is how children are not only welcomed, but embraced, heralded, included, and indeed, relied upon to bring about real change by the adults they interact with in Narnia. And not only adults, but God himself! Kids in Narnia are respected, trusted, confident and brave. They have human failings, that any child can relate to, but work through them, and in the end, triumph.

What child, no matter their age, wouldn't be smitten. And ready to give themselves to Aslan.

Reading the Chronicles was like grandmother's cooking. I loved it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

niall de buitlear

I'm delighted to make the following correction. A week or so ago I wrote about found bookmarks and mentioned an exhibit by Irish artist Niall de Buitlear. I'm very happy to report that this exhibit is currently underway at the National Library of Ireland and runs until the end of October.

I would like to thank Niall de Buitlear for commenting on my entry and pointing out my error, and I apologize for the confusion. I found the listing at the library's website, not under current events, but in the archive. I should have read more closely.

So anyone who is interested, you still have an opportunity to see this intriguing exhibit made up of small pieces of peoples lives, left in the books they read. You can find all of the correct information at Niall de Buitlear's web site by clicking here.

de Buitlear's Found Bookmark Project is part of a larger, twenty-one location exhibition put on by the Douglas Hyde Gallery, called Preponderance of the Small, which features work by young artists in Ireland.

Cheers to Niall de Buitlear. Go see his show!

john adams - ii

I finished John Adams last night after work. I thought it was great. This book isn't a page turner; I didn't find this book taking over my life and squeezing out all my spare time, as some books do, but the story was very gratifying in any case.

Abigail Adams, by Benjamin Blythe, 1766

I wrote about this book about a week ago, and talked about how the story was fleshed out using all the different source materials the author could find. In the acknowledgments at the end of the book, McCullough states that the Adamses left behind more personal, written material than any of their contemporaries. Adams loved books, and he also marked in them in the margins. Treating the written word more like a conversation with the author, he would respond to the authors statements with his pen in the margins. McCullough says one book has over 12,000 words in the margins!

The other thing I felt strongly, was how the personal correspondence and diary entries, grounded Adams for me. I was delighted to read, near the end of the book, that others felt this way. After witnessing the re-acquaintance of his grand aunt, late in life, with her old friend, Adams, Josiah Quincy wrote, "It is a surprise to find a great personage so simple, so perfectly natural, so thoroughly human."

I've included the pastel of Abigail Adams done just after they were married, by a Salem artist, because she figures so greatly in the story and in Adams' life. She's his anchor, and his greatest friend. She was smart, well read, opinionated, funny, strong willed, and helped to guide Adams when he got caught up emotionally in an issue.

If you have any interest in the way the United States struggled for independence, and then struggled to stay that way, or about the men and women who worked so hard for it, I can't recommend this book enough. I learned more than all of my American History classes together, and had fun doing it. Read this book.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

dragon tattoo

I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a little while ago, before I began my month-long slog through John Adams. I've been reading a lot of crime/mystery/suspense drama in the last year. My wife loves the genre and she reads really fast, so there are lots of books to choose from. Because I've read so many of them, they have a certain sameness to them. Similar to watching a TV series: you get comfortable with the characters. Writers know this of course and characters are written into series all the time. The sameness I'm talking about, is from author to author, and character to character. They all have similarities that tend to bubble up when reading lots of books like this. I often feel that they are are part of some super-series.

Stieg Larsson's characters were refreshing for me because they broke that mold. The writing is strong, and face-paced. Which for me means

Friday, October 23, 2009


I went to the New England Library Association conference this past weekend in Hartford, CT. My office had a display and we were down there meeting the folks and letting them know what we do. As an exhibitor myself, I'm not sure the goodies that folks like booksellers put out for their potential clients, mainly librarians, are up for grabs, but I did mosey on up to a few and snagged some prime bookmarks, like this one.

Zeus, according to the text on the reverse, is one of the topics covered in "The Lincoln Library of Greek & Roman Mythology", which this bookmark is advertising. The Lincoln Library sells reference materials to schools and libraries. Bookmarks seem like a natural advertising tool for them.

The NELA conference brings lots of librarians and related professionals together to learn about whats new and see the new products available for library service. We were one of four architects with displays up during the conference. Most of us design types know each other, and so its also a chance for us to catch up and see what the competition is working on.

American Library Association ALA:Midwinter is coming up in January 2010 in Boston this year, so that's close for us. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

weird book room

The American Libraries Direct newsletter is usually full of all kinds of fun stuff in their 'Seen Online' section, and this week doesn't disappoint. The Weird Book Room at the online bookstore is a gem for the secret reader in all of us. We've all seen funky book titles at yard sales (tag sale or garage sale, if you're more than 30 miles from me), library weeding sales and the local Salvation Army store. Books that makes you say things like, "I should really write that book I've been thinking about," and, "How do things like this get published?".

Its so great to look at title after title of the craziest books out there. And yes, you can buy them! Where else are you going to find "Why Do I Vomit?", "A History of Orgies", "Help! A Bear is Eating Me!", "Is your Dog Gay?" or "The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories" all in one place?

Thanks to AbeBooks for providing this much-needed community service.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

john adams - i

So I'm reading John Adams, and I've been pounding through it for weeks. That's not to say I'm not enjoying it, because I am, but the book is dense. I haven't read a lot of biography, so I'm out of my element, but McCullough has shown me a founding father in a way that's accessible, real and human.

This story of Adams' live is amazing as a history lesson, but his personal thoughts, interests and feelings layer the story and give it depth. McCullough uses personal correspondence and journal entries from not only Adams, but his wife Abigail, his friends, neighbors, and contemporaries, which help us see the mind of the man. But it doesn't stop there, the history is there, not only in the emerging America, but in Europe. Details from local politics, competing and sometimes warring foreign governments, news outlets of the day, and even the private thoughts of his adversaries, help fill in the history to create an amazingly rich description of Adams, the world he lived in, and what he did to make America what it is today.

I'm about three-quarters through, but I wanted to get my thoughts down. More later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

russian bookmarks

This blog has caused my interest in bookmarks to escalate in recent weeks, and I find myself blabbing about it and boring my friends with things about my grandmother's book and my small but fun bookmark collection. So I'm boring a co-worker about this and she tells me she has a link for me and gives me this: the Bookmark Collection of the Library of the Urals. I don't speak Russian, and maybe you don't either, so if you're interested, this is what I did.

I went to Yahoo BabelFish and pasted in the web address, chose "Russian to English" from the pull down menu and hit the translate button. Boom. Crazy, BabelFish translation of very cool Russian bookmark site. When you click on the links for "Skin" (leather) and "Tree" (wood bookmarks) you're taken to the sub-sections, and each subsequent page is also translated. [Sweet.]

Thanks to Natalie for the link. She sent me three more that I haven't even looked at yet!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

found bookmarks

One of my favorite types of bookmark is the found bookmark, which is to say that the marker itself wasn't originally intended to serve as a bookmark, but was conscripted to perform the function. Items include anything and everything available, ranging from ticket stubs, to business card, to gum wrappers. Anything but a dog ear.

This found bookmark is a recent one of mine from a trip this past summer to New York. Its a ticket stub from the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island and Liberty Island. The ticket was a small little bit torn from the end, and the stub is this long, thin strip of heavy paper, whose proportions seemed to have been designed for the specific purpose of being a found bookmark. That may have been the case when

d bookmark

"Vampire Hunter D", by Japanese writer Hideyuki Kikuchi was published in Japan in 1983, and was translated into English in 2005. The story takes place far in the future and the protagonist is, of course, a vampire hunter. This bookmark is an advertising tool, there's some text on the reverse that appears to be back-cover-teaser material, but also notes that D appears in "new prose novels", so it does seems as though it looks forward to the franchise of sequel novels that have since appeared in English.

I’m not sure where I picked this one up, whether it was a bookstore or a library. Bookmarks are often in the funniest places. I may have picked this one

Thursday, October 15, 2009

quantum colors matter

Lorraine Ingersoll's book is short and to the point. It is a collection of theories on the interrelated states of energy and matter, where all energy is matter, and vice versa, and the two constantly move back and forth between the two states, as energy is added and subtracted. The vehicle for how this is done is encoded in the spectra of the light energy involved, and its impacts reach from the thoughts in our brains to the creation of the universe.

The book is short, due mainly to the author's reliance on her readers to be intelligent enough to carry their share of the load. Mrs. Ingersoll's style is one of simplicity, almost to a fault. Ingersoll doesn't argue her points, but simply presents them, along with supporting data and quotes from a plethora of sources, and leaves it to her readers to follow along, and make the connections she has made. While this method is efficient, and

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

dewey bookmark

Given that Dewey has become embattled in recent years for its rigidity, and failure to allow for new topics to be introduced, I thought I'd give a nod to the Dewey Decimal System and old Melvil Dewey while I had the chance. It may be that we'll see less and less of Dewey in libraries in the future--especially those that

summer road trip

pee pee in the woods.
pee pee in the woods.
stopping by highway,
for pee pee in the woods.

I wrote this on the way to the beach with the family years ago, and recorded it on a digital recorder I used to keep in the car for ideas I had while driving. It was inspired by a sight at the edge of the road. One of those huge

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

raisin bread universe

So I’ve downloaded a series of lectures from iTunes U about astronomy. UC Berkeley’s Alex Filippenko teaches a course called Astronomy C10: Introduction to General Astronomy. On my computer, the lectures in this series are all neatly numbered, but on my phone, it’s a jumble. So I pick one at random. Not only does this end up being lecture number 32 out of the 41 lectures in this course, I am actually admonished by Professor Filippenko during this lecture, who warns his students to listen to the lectures in order, if they can’t attend class.

Great. First day and I’m getting an F.

raisin bread universe

So I've downloaded

Monday, October 12, 2009

haston bookmark

The Haston Free Public Library is in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. The original building was designed by Fuller and Delano, Architects, and completed in 1894, by Norcross Brothers, for a cost of $34,000. The cost for construction was donated by Erasmus and Elvira Haston, of North Brookfield. My office just completed the building’s first major renovation and addition, last year.

Fuller & Delano, Architects, of Worcester, Massachusetts, was a partnership between James E. Fuller, and Ward P. Delano, begun in 1878. Fuller & Delano designed

Sunday, October 11, 2009

bookmark history

A bookmark, sometimes called a bookmarker, or just a marker, is a device used to mark one's place in a book, most commonly, by simple insertion between the leaves. Modern bookmarks are often relatively simple in design, and made of printed heavy paper or card stock. Bookmarks are also made of other materials ranging from silk, ribbons and other fabrics, to leather, thin strips of wood or metal, to celluloid, ivory, plastic and parchment, and are often further decorated with ribbons, cords, tassels, and other three-dimensional objects, designed to hang out of the book, making one’s place easier to find.

Many bookmarks can be clipped on or slid over the edge of the page with the aid of a flap cut into the body of the bookmark. This is often the case with thin wood or metal bookmarks, which act like

Saturday, October 10, 2009

chinatown bookmark

This is a bookmark from the Chinatown Storefront Library in Boston, MA. This isn't a branch of the Boston Public Library, the Chinatown Branch was demolished to make way for a highway project in 1956. Chinatown has been without a library since then.

The Storefront Library project is just what it sounds like; a temporary library in a vacant storefront, to bring library services back to Chinatown, if only for a few months.


This is a place for me to keep track of my interests, and share them with others who may be interested. I have a few ideas about where this may go, but only vague ones. I like to read, I like to write, and I also collect a few things. I thought it might be fun to write about where these interests, and maybe others, intersect. I'm hoping this place will help me to organize my thoughts, explore my interests, find commonalities, and share them.