Category Archives: Book Column

Best Book Covers of 2014

The learned and eagle eyed folks over at Design Observer have released their list of the 50 Best Book Covers of 2014. It’s quite a list! There are 50 of them, so click through to see them all.

Seeing this Chip Kidd cover for Murakami online doesn’t do it justice. The colors pop and the die-cut holes to the map below really make this cover. It’s a fun trim size too.



It’s a fun ranking and worth scrolling through. It seems to be a great mix of ones seen often in shops and other lesser known ones that have it made it to the front-of-bookstore tables yet. I’m always glad Design Observer does these lists as I’d miss out on quite a few of these books.

This raised 3D slip cover is C-R-A-Z-Y.


The Best Books ranking/competition goes back around 90 years. Here are the Best Book Covers from previous years as well:

Design Observer also compiles a list of the 50 Best Books of each year, where the whole design is judged and not just the cover. And it’s fun to see who made the list as well, but when online, I enjoy the covers more. Anyway, here’s their choices for 50 Best Books of 2014. To get an idea what this is about, the book ODD VOLUMES got a nod in both the cover competition and the book competition. The folds really show how the book is organized and speaks to the subject of the book which is book art.

I was glad to see The Martian on there as the paper used really made it glitter as if covered in martian dust. So you have 50 to choose from – which book cover is your favorite from last year?

The Fold – Book Review

Title: The Fold
Author: Peter Clines
Publisher: Random House, 2015
Where I heard about this book: I received this book directly from the publisher.

For years a government agency has been trying to get high school science teacher Leland “Mike” Erikson to come work for them. But he always turned them down until they asked him to investigate a secret physics installation in southern California. A place that “folds” the fabric of space/time, allowing people to walk across the universe in the blink of an eye. At least, that’s what they think it does.


I really enjoyed the whole build up of The Fold as Mike, who has been assigned the task of figuring out what is going on and how it’s being done, is piecing clues together, grappling with the science and coming around to believing the impossible. And when the impossible happens, people start dying. Fast. And then things get weird. Fast.

Clines does a decent job with the science with this story, leaving just enough in the realm of WTF and fuzzy thinking to make it fun and plausible. Just make sure you’re reading with an open mind and you’ll enjoy.

If you’re a fan of Sherlock I think you’ll like The Fold as Mike (who, in the book, is compared to both Holmes brothers) has one hugely useful talent – his eidetic memory. He remembers everything as if he’s skimming through a DVD with time codes and everything. It makes piecing together crime scenes, looking for patterns and eliminating variables fast and easy. And he can sound like a jerk. But so did Sherlock at times.

While it all wraps up quickly, you can’t be sure how it’ll end or even who will be standing when it does.

I give Peter Clines’ The Fold three out of five stars and recommend it to fans of the Stargate series, time travel movies and anyone else who already realizes that there are some things mankind just shouldn’t mess with.

Hoopla Adds eBooks and Comics

I just noticed last night that the Hoopla app/service I use (thanks Hoover Library!) has expanded its offerings. Movies, music and TV shows have been readily available for download since day one. But now we have access to eBooks and comics as well.

* please note I have not tried to read or view comics in the Hoopla app. I am simply comparing catalogs and services at this point. eBook readers and comic apps are hard and I do not know yet if Hoopla has a good one.

I am always interested in finding new things to read and am pretty excited at seeing what the eBooks section will offer.


So far it does seem to be a little different than what’s over on OverDrive which the library supports as well (thanks again, Hoover Library, you guys rock!). There seems to be a difference in publishers. Many of what is on Hoopla (while not big names) are not titles that I have access to on OverDrive. I only spot checked five books so far, but this seems to be the case. And I’m glad for it. The less overlap the better.

Hoopla eBooks so far as I can see seems stronger in the cooking, self-help, and Christian categories. Though there are lots of romance, kids, and some fiction as well. But OverDrive shares these strengths and is currently a little stronger in the mainstream categories.

I’m not a comic book/graphic novel reader. I wish I was because I hear such great things, but I just can’t get into the groove. It’s not a snob thing, they’re just too slow for me (maybe another post on this thinking soon?)


Noticably absent are Marvel comics. I have no idea if they’ll come on board or not. They’re all Disney-owned and working with Amazon, who knows. But DC Comics is testing the waters here. There are about 30 comics presented in the “Featured” area. Most of these are “digest issues” so each book contains 4-15 comics in there. Which is handy if you’re trying to catch up on a series or something.

What they’re lacking in Marvel characters they make up for with. . .  a Bill & Melinda Gates comic? a Kate Middleton comic? I even saw an Amy Winehouse comic book.


So the stock and quality is all over the map with Hoopla’s comic book offerings. No doubt it’ll get better.

I assume Hoopla is the same everywhere, but maybe it is dependent on each library’s contract. How it works here is that we’re allowed 10 downloads a month. That allotment can be made up of any mix of movies, music, TV, audiobooks, and now eBooks and comics.

Let me just say – libraries are awesome. I hope you live someplace with access to something like the JCLC system. To use Hoopla just load the app on your device and log-in with your library card number. You will instantly be able to access any content/services that your local library supports.

Do you use Hoopla?

By The Book – Book Review

Title: By The Book
Author: Pamela Paul
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co., 2014
Where I heard about this book: I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

This is such a fun read. If you enjoy books or if you enjoy authors or if you enjoy writing or any combination of those then I think you’ll think the same.


By The Book features un-edited Q&A sessions with 65 very well-known writers. It’s as if you get to flit about during the epic dinner party of ALL epic dinner parties and eavesdrop on conversations. Names like Grisham, Tyson, Tartt, Chabon, Gaiman and Rowling is just as sampling of who is on the invite list.

The book is a collection of Pamela Paul’s column for The New York Times Book Review of the same title – By The Book. Throughout the pages and sidebars we learn which books inspired these authors, which writers they can’t stand and which books they think are overrated.

This is a book that every book lover will enjoy. Each profile is only 2-3 pages. So it’s great for snacking on when you have a few minutes. Each bite is full of insights into what makes these high profile wordsmiths tick and what pushes them to put pen to paper. If there were ever a book to leave on the nightstand in the guest room, this is it. It’s so much fun.

I’m recommending this book to all my friends who enjoy reading and books. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.