Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just some really cool books. . .

With the best of intentions, I've had dozens of spring preview blog posts twirling in my mind, because honestly, there are some really terrific books coming in the next few months. And I'm working on it, even though it's now already the middle of February - where does the time go? Ah, well, good books coming in the summer too. And in the fall, which seems to be hitting my desk with some regularity each day. Some days blogging just takes a long time. . .

While I try and pull the best out of tons of catalogues (stay tuned) and organize them into coherent categories, here - appropos of nothing - are three just really interesting books that have recently been published. The fact that their covers all contain a bluish hue is entirely accidental.

It's pretty strange to think that kids today may grow up without writers' bumps and possibly not being able to read cursive handwriting, though they will have really great texting thumbs. But what are they going to make of letters and manuscripts in museums, or even in their own family attics? Kitty Burns Florey shows what they are missing in Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting - an ode to the lost art of penmanship.
Which begs the question: with so many beautiful notebooks, diaries and stationary available in retail stores everywhere, who is still writing? Or are we a nation of blankbook packrats?

Well, here's another use for blank paper. If you (or kids you know) can handle an exacto knife with ease, or are origami enthusiasts, then The Paper Architect: Fold-it-Yourself Buildings and Structures is just the coolest thing ever. The authors have provided templates and instructions to create twenty, three dimensional replicas of famous landmarks from the Eiffel Tower to the Taj Mahal, The Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Colosseum. Each project is graded for difficulty from easy (the Parthenon) to advanced (Gaudi's Sagrada Familia). Hours of fun and papercuts await.

And finally, there's Simon Critchley's The Book of Dead Philosophers which on the surface may look to be a downer, but is actually a fascinating series of entries on the various bizarre and frequently ironic ways in which philosophers met their end. To get a flavour of the book, you can read his list of top ten philosophers' deaths here.

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