Posts Tagged ‘books’
“The real questions are: Does it solve a problem? Is it serviceable? How is it going to look in ten years?”*…
Ziba, a Portland-based design firm, asked each staff member to submit his/her “top five” list of designs that have changed the way we think about the world over the organization’s 29-year history– back to 1983. They clustered the submissions around thematic statements that characterize the innovations, e.g. “The mundane shall be celebrated,” or “Connectivity is like oxygen.” Then, they captured the results in an infographic (a detail of which is above).
Explore a larger version here, and note that there are a number of things that didn’t make the cut: Napster? the GIF? Yelp?… but then, that’s the fun– and the useful provocation– of lists like this, encouraging us to make our own nominations.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
- Douglas Adams
* Charles Eames
As we noodle on the new new thing, we might celebrate the emergence of a design, an innovation, a technology that took on a life of its own and changed… well, everything: this date in 1455 is the traditionally-given date of the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type.
(Lest we think that there’s actually anything new under the sun, we might recall that The Jikji– the world’s oldest known extant movable metal type printed book– was published in Korea in 1377; and that Bi Sheng created the first known moveable type– out of wood– in China in 1040.)
“From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it…”*
If the diagram above makes sense to you, you may have succumbed to one of the most pernicious perils of our time. Check the list of symptoms at “25 Signs You’re Addicted To Books.”
And on that subject, enjoy this lionizing of libraries…
* Groucho Marx
As we keep up with the jones, we might spare a thought for Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he died on this date in 1991. After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of nascent young readers.
The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)
Book jackets are supposed to do heavy sales duty: evocative art, enticing text– it’s all supposed to instill an irresistible urge to “buy me, read me.” Facsimile Dust Jackets is a colossal collection of covers, mostly from the 1920s-1950s, that one can buy to wrap around one’s own old books, frame as the works of art that they are… or simply browse for the pleasure of peaking through a colorful window back in time.
* Charles Dickens
As we dust our dust jackets, we might send sentimental birthday greetings to James Hilton; he was born on this date in 1900. While Hilton capped his career as a successful screenwriter (Mrs. Miniver, Foreign Correspondent, Camille, and many others), he is probably best remembered as a novelist– especially as the author of Lost Horizon (thus, the creator of Shangri-La) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
This map, by social realist artist William Gropper, was created to showcase the diversity of national myths and folk stories and was distributed abroad through the U.S. Department of State starting in 1946…
Gropper, born in New York City’s Lower East Side to a working-class family, deeply identified with labor movements and the Left throughout his life. He worked as a cartoonist for mainstream publications New York Tribune and Vanity Fair, as well as the leftist and radical newspapers Rebel Worker, New Masses, and Daily Worker. During the Depression, like many other out-of-work artists, Gropper designed murals for the Works Progress Administration.
The “folklore” on display in this richly illustrated map is a soup of history, music, myth, and literature. Frankie and Johnny are cheek-by-jowl with a wild-eyed John Brown; General Custer coexists with “Git Along Little Dogies.” Utah is simply host to a group of “Mormons,” in which a bearded man holds up stigmata-marked hands to a small group of wives and children, while a figure labeled “New England Witches” flies over New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont…
As we revel in regional differences, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Theodor Geisel– Dr. Seuss– published The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Geisel had published And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street the prior year; 500 Hats was his second children’s book and the first of three (it was followed by The King’s Stilts and The Seven Lady Godivas in 1939), all of which were, atypically for him, in prose. He returned to the rhyming form for which he’s known with his fifth book, Horton Hatches the Egg.
The folks at the blog Book Riot surveyed over 800 of their readers, asking what books they pretend to have read. The “winners”…
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (85 mentions)
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- The Bible
- 1984 by George Orwell
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (21 mentions)
The full list does contain some (though not much) non-fiction; Critique of Pure Reason and The Communist Manifesto make the top 50. Still, it’s a surprise not to see A Brief History of Time near the top…
Read the full story here– and enjoy the comparisons with their “best-loved” and “intended to read” lists.
[Image above sourced here.]
As we rethink our Kindle queues, we might send elegantly-printed birthday greetings to William Caxton; he was born on this date in 1422… or so tradition holds; his actual birthday was surely around this time, but is unknown. Caxton worked as a merchant, diplomat, writer, and translator; but is best remembered as a printer– the first English printer. Caxton and the dissemination of his printed works are credited with helping to standardize the English language (to homogenize regional differences); he’s also credited with establishing the spelling of “ghost” with a silent h (a function of his familiarity with the Flemish spelling).