Your Book is Alive!

Do you ever wonder if books have personalities? Do they act like the stories inside them? Well one artist sees beyond the words (and pulpy pages) to the soul of the book.

Terry Border is an artist who specializes in sculptures using paperclips. His series Wiry Limbs, Paper Backs shows us the book coming alive. Now if you’ve never experienced a paperback, then you should know that back would bend into a curve after many reading (especially if it was a long book) leading to the pages falling out. They weren’t wonderful, but they were cheap. The Kindle ebooks of their day. I’ve personally read most of the books Mr. Border uses in his art series (most with the same paperback covers as depicted).

rosemarysbaby

Mr. Border first came up with this idea when he spied a rack of paperbacks at his local bookstore (yup, those spiral racks were where I used to see them). He loved the personality of the covers and wanted to transform the books into little book people.

FANTASTICFOUR

This one is particularly dear to me. Having collected Fantastic Four most of my life, I really does capture the whimsy of the comic. Mr. Fantastic is the only superhero from the group you could possibly create with wire.

WARofWORLDS

Mr. Border does more than fantasy and horror, but these are my favs. I read War of the Worlds as a preteen and it still sticks with me. I’m a Wells over Verne sort of fella.

small mini-wheats

It’t not all paperback art. This picture is titled “Late to Breakfast” and shows a twisted sense of humor I can firmly get behind.

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Finally, before I add every single image from his site, I wanted to show that it’s not all bent wire that makes up Mr. Border’s whimsey. I love this that is titled “Where Pasta Shells Come From.”

Check out his site to see more. And don’t forget that behind every single object is a creature waiting to burst out.

Tim Kane

Six Second Reading List

I wondered what my reading list would look like if I compressed it all into one, six second burst. Now, there were some problems. Namely, I read mostly ebooks now and they didn’t show up so well on the video.

Here’s a list of the books I was able to cram in:

  1. Cattus Petasatus by Doctore Seuss (A Latin translation of The Cat in the Hat)
  2. Fantastic Four #112 “Hulk vs Thing” (I own more than 500 issues)
  3. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King (I own four versions of this: paper back, hard pack, audio, and a pop-up: shown here)
  4. Pandora in the Congo by Albert Sánchez Piñol (A fantastic book)
  5. Barlowe’s Guide to Fantasy by Wayne Douglas Barlowe (Had this book as a kid)
  6. The Giver by Lois Lowry (Why this hasn’t become a movie yet is beyond me)
  7. The Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway (His shorts are his best work)
  8. Ulysses by James Joyce (I took a class in college where we simply read and analyzed this book. The only way to get through it.)
  9. Holes by Louis Sachar (A genius piece of fiction)
  10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Loved it as a kid. Sparked my interest in dimensions.)
  11. Howl by Allen Ginsberg (Saw this guy perform in person, not this poem though.)
  12. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig (I’ve read this book several times)
  13. Dracula by Bram Stoker (Surprisingly action packed for its time)
  14. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein (The whole darn series needs to be in here)
  15. Hell House by Richard Matheson (A superb tale of terror)
  16. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Such a stunning example of voice)
  17. The Wave by Todd Strasser (I chanced upon this in a bookstore and then couldn’t stop reading)
  18. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (I have all these books either in my classroom or on audio. Therefore I had to pick up the graphic novel for the video)
  19. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Read this in middle school. Then it haunted me until I could find it and read it again in my thirties)
  20. Dune by Frank Herbert (Hits all the marks for great Science Fiction)
  21. Dr. Grordbort presents Victory by Greg Broadmore (A cunning work of steampunk satire)
  22. Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart (I also own Wicked Plants)
  23. The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges He pulls these creatures from mythology, but so great to read)
  24. After Man: A Zoology of the Future by Douglas Dixon (This one really sparks the imagination)
  25. You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense by Charles Bukowski (I own and have read multiple Bukowski books. This one simply had the most Post It notes attached.)
  26. The Complete Poems of John Keats (My fav is Ode to a Nightingale)
  27. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Yes, I love the dictionary)
  28. The Elements by Theodore Gray (This makes science addictive)
  29. The Changing Vampire of Film and Television (I had to slip my own book in there)
  30. Olympians: Zeus by George O’Connor (Not only mythology, but written as a kick-butt graphic novel)
  31. Wired Magazine (Okay, so not a book, but it’s the only magazine I read)
  32. Hellboy by Mike Mignola (One day he’s going to take that crown)
  33. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (The book is a work of philosophy mixed with horror)
  34. Bag of Bones by Stephen King (Yes, he made the list twice)
  35. The Complete Science Fiction Treasury of H. G. Wells (My Granddad gave this to me when was a tween. Loved the way the stories expanded my imagination.)
  36. Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol (He also made the list twice. You should read his stuff.)

Happy Reading

Tim Kane

Protect Your Books at All Costs

I recently saw in the news that librarians in the African city of Timbuktu are stashing away ancient books to prevent rebels from looting and burning them. Just think about it. These folks are putting their lives at risk for books. That’s awesome.

I nabbed this photo from Arab News. Click on the picture to view their article.

I nabbed this photo from Arab News. Click on the picture to view their article.

For those of you who don’t know (and I was one of them) Timbuktu is dead center in Mali.

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This area has a long tradition of hiding texts. People first hid early Islamic works from Moroccans, then the Europeans. So these folk know what they’re doing. The main library that’s been affects is the Ahmed Baba Institute. It houses all sorts of delicate, museum quality text.

Don’t know who Ahmed Baba is? Neither did I. This fella is the greatest medieval West African writers. He lived from 1556 to 1627, making him a contemporary to Shakespeare (though he didn’t get to run a playhouse). He was a major scholar in the Songhai Empire, which ruled most of West Africa. Too bad that the Arabs rushed in and destroyed the empire, imprisoning all the teachers, including this fella. After everyone, I mean everyone, petitioned for his release, Ahmed Baba was able to head back to Timbuktu. Check out his picture.

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I’m sorry, but when I look at this, only one thing comes to mind.

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Just like the character Jules (at the end of the flick), Ahmed Baba was soft spoken and gave credit to the Almighty. It seems the current librarians in Timbuktu are taking a cue and busting some ass to protect priceless works of literature.

Tim Kane

Readophile

I love everything that has to do with books. Most of my love exhibits itself in clever sayings or aphorisms about reading and books. At incidental comics, I stumbled upon an amazing comic about adopting books. Check out Stray Books:

I makes me want to adopt books. Now, how about books as a wall. In 2005, Swiss artist Jan Reymond began constructing elaborate installations each year, made of the old, unsold books as a last hurrah for the soon-to-be discarded objects. He also made a tree out of books. That’s dedication.

Then I found a photographer Kirsty Mitchell. Following her mother’s death from a brain tumour in 2008, Kirsty channelled her grief into her passion for photography. She retreated behind the lens of her camera and created Wonderland, an ethereal fantasy world.

Below is The Storyteller: A reference to Kirsten’s English teacher mother, a model sits elegantly on a carpet of bluebells enveloped by books.

Finally, we have artist Robert The (yes, that’s his name). He takes books and then cuts them up to create new symbols. A lobster. A broom. A cake. And yes, a gun.

I still love to read books too. Now, mostly ebooks. But sometimes there’s something special about glue and paper. If the picture below doesn’t make you shiver with excitement, then real, physical books, aren’t for you.

Tim Kane

What to Read: Three Different Categories of Fiction

You have to know yourself as a reader. Which type of fiction do you lean toward? Knowing the different kinds of fiction can certainly help. I get totally into this—my Master’s thesis being on genre studies. But I’ll save wordy for a doctoral thesis and give you the reader’s perspective.

Realistic or Literary Fiction
These are the books that deal with real life. They’re usually called literary fiction in bookstores, but I also lump in realistic fiction, because that applies better to young adult books. Basically these books focus more on characters and their personal problems over plot. There is a line that divides literary form realistic. Literary can often be very self-absorbed and even be devoid of plot. Realistic fiction typically has some semblance of a problem and resolution.

Some good examples (pulled from my favs) are:

Genre
These books are defined by their plot structures. Characters can be secondary and will sometimes follow stereotypes. Readers return to these books because we know what to expect. Certain situations and settings reoccur over and over. There are many different types of genres, such as: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Romance, and Mystery.

Some more favs:

Genre Pastiche
This is where things get interesting. Since the 1980s, films had run the gamut of genre and began mashing them up. Books are doing the same. One of the most popular pastiches is paranormal romance (horror and romance). This allows readers who love genre, to mix things up.

Final set of favs:

  • Horror + Realistic Fiction: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Science Fiction + Fantasy: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  • Fantasy + Realistic Fiction: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Next time you look for a good read, think about the type of read you are. Choose your book based on your tastes. If you have a writing bent, then check out how to write for each genre.

Tim Kane

How Do You Find a Good Book to Read in the eBook Age?

Some folk lament the fact that physical bookstores, with their collections of paper and glue, are vanishing. Heck, my city has only one bookstore. I relate. I love wandering the aisles of the bookstores, just picking something up and giving it a page through. But I’ll tell you a secret. Often, the books I pick up and then buy from a bookstore are not the ones I really love. I’ve been disappointed more than once.

What I do relish in bookstores are the recommendations by the employees. These people have read and loved these books and want you to read them too. Ignore the tables with the covers all facing up. The book placement there is often paid for by the publisher.

Alfred Hitchcock enjoying Tom Prideaux’s Love or Nothing: The Life and Times of Ellen Terry.

You can get that same sort of recommendation in the digital age. Often, I look up a book I’ve already read and loved on Amazon. Then I see what else the site recommends. Or I ask my reading friends (on Facebook or Twitter). The best part, I can download a sample of the ebook and read enough to get hooked (or bored).

The final resource for book hunters is book blogs. Check out these three blogs to help find your next read.

SPA Middle School Blog: This site shows recommendations from actual seventh and eight graders. Awesome to know I have similar tastes.

Young Adult Books Central Blog: This place is massive. It reviews books as well as tracks reader reviews. You can sort books in many ways with plenty to choose from.

We Need Reads Blog: A great review blog by a pair of avid readers. Their review of Speak says it all.

Tim Kane