Category Archives: Book Column

Books Arts Documentary

PBS has a great new documentary-short series out with the latest installments focusing on a handful of book artists. This video is under six minutes long. The film starts with a paper engineer who has helped make some of the world’s best pop-up books as well as a paper sculptor (timecode 2:08) who cuts books and images into “book tunnels”. They also talk to an artist (timecode 3:37) that tears, glues, weaves and re-molds books into new collages and forms, in an effort to make her artistic point. It’s all very fascinating. PBS posted the documentary to YouTube and I have embedded it here:


Typographic Calendars for 2012

Here are three of my favorite typographic calendars available this year. It’s amazing what type designers are doing in the way of font choices and materials. I admit that 99% of my “calendaring” is done via computer, but these three pieces almost elevate the calendar to the level of art.

Heather Lins’ A Year in Caps

This one is $32 and is printed on 12 different wooden cards. Each screen-printed with colorful inks and starkly different fonts.

365 Typography Calendar

This one has been around for over a decade (it’s been known as Pentagram’s calendar) and the designers are branching out with this one. The 2012 edition is comprised of original fonts that are not for sale anywhere. The fonts were designed by contemporary designers who used landmarks, technology and pop culture as inspiration. This is sold in two sizes for $35 and $55.

Harald Geisler’s Typographic Wall Calendar

This one is by far my favorite. Geisler successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign to push his calendar into production. His calendar is massive as he used 2012 computer keys to list out every day of the year. No doubt this one would be one heck of a conversation piece. It’s pretty fun. There are various prices. A single calendar runs for $35 (including shipping). Prices go up if you want signed copies or the actual keyboard keys. It’s worth watching the video just to get an idea of the artist and how the calendar is laid out.



Book Review: “The Unit” by Ninni Holmqvist

I just finished The Unit by Ninni Homqvist and published by Other Press. It’s a great read that shines a light on what can happen when society starts looking at the population as numbers and statistics and quits seeing the people behind the numbers.

I picked up this book because I really liked the thought-provoking premise: society’s older members, who have no family or crucial job are taken to a utopian campus where every whim, wish and need are catered too. They get to live out their final years as comfortable as possible. The only catch: they are expected to participate in medical experiments and donate their body parts, for as long as they can… until their “final donation”. This society sees it as humane as it takes their poorest members, gives them the best in art and creature comforts, while maximizing their contributions to society.

It’s absurd. Sure. Crazy. But still, a great premise for this story. It’s an idea I was hoping the book would dive deep into, but it doesn’t. Instead it swirls around on the lives of the “dispensables” that are inside “The Unit” and focuses on the main character, Dorritt. All of the people in the Unit completely understand what is going on and they don’t put up a fight when they have to participate in a psychological exam, drug test, donate a kidney or even donate their lungs and heart. They see it as finally being of value to their community, on the outside.

It doesn’t take you long to accept the rules of this community and start living alongside Dorritt in the dome. The writing in this book is fantastic. It just flows in and out of conversations and offering insights into love, loss, society, ethics, etc. I was truly impressed with the author. The book flies through every emotion you can think of and every type of relationship as these people lean on each other and help each other deal with loosing body parts, going crazy, love, politics, pregnancy…

Towards the end, I knew the clock is ticking and I just wanted to know, does Dorritt escape? Does she die? But also towards the end, I didn’t wasn’t quite ready for it to be over. I enjoyed the many conversations and personalities in The Unit.

This one gets three out five stars and will be recommended often.

Book Collecting 101

I encourage you to check out this post on book collecting over on Exile Bibliophile. I recently discovered that blog while clicking around the discussions over on LibraryThing. Here’s one of my favorite snippets:

“Not everyone who owns a lot of books is a book collector.  Granted.  I wear pants most days, and own many pairs, yet don’t think of myself as a pants connoisseur.  Book collectors are the same way.  A book collection has a purpose beyond accumulating, beyond, even, reading.  A book collection has a purpose.  What should the focus be?  That’s the beauty of it.”

I like people who group their books in some logical or at least interesting fashion. I REALLY like people who dive deep into a category or genre or author. Those are always great conversationalists. And indeed. That is the beauty of it.