Category Archives: Recommendations

Be the Expert: Books About Bookshelves

It’s hard to believe how quickly this year’s Nonfiction November #nonficnov is blowing past as we’re already posting for Week Three. This week is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey and carries the assignment of – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert.

Here is the prompt:

You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

In the past, I’ve offered up titles for becoming an expert on book covers as well as good reads for becoming an expert on bookshops.

This week’s prompt is always my favorite topic each November. Not only do I enjoy taking a deep dive on whatever I’m doing or reading, this week gives us a glimpse at what else a fellow book blogger is into and thinks about. It’s really fun. In case you can’t tell: I like books. Keeping with that theme, here are three books I’d recommend to help you become an expert on bookshelves.

Three books all about bookshelves

Be An Expert on Bookshelves

Let’s start with the definitive book, on the subject, by Henry Petroski, The Book on the Bookshelf. This book, was published in 1999, and covers it all in a very accessible manner. Petroski is an engineer and it’s useful to see the changing construction of bookshelves and well as the cultural implications of the evolution of bookshelves through an engineer’s lens. There are some really fun and wacky illustrations in the book and is a great place to start.

Lydia Pyne’s 2016 essay-length book, simply titled Bookshelf, is the next book on the list. Pyne approaches the subject with a creative’s and historian’s perspective. So it dovetails nicely with Petroski’s book. In Pyne, you’ll find a kindred bookish spirit who helps explore what a bookshelf says about the owner as well as the impact bookshelves have when displayed for all to see. If you’ve ever been caught scanning a friend’s bookcase, trying to figure out what they like to read, this is a good book for you.

The third book is one of my absolute favorites. At Home with Books by Estelle Ellis, Caroline Seebohm and Christopher Sykes is a visual delight. This is a book you’ll want to leave open on the coffee table all the time. The photography is excellent and all of the interviews, short essays and sidebars deliver on the promise of the subtitle ”How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries”. Inside you’ll find houses crammed with books as well as million dollar lavish libraries. The bookshelves are all full, regardless of who owns them. You’ll meet book collectors that look for everything from fiction, to art books, to books on buildings and toys as well as poetry. It’s so much fun to see how these professional and hobbyist bibliophiles use their shelves and all the nooks and crannies they find to place bookshelves.

Those are the three I’d recommend for becoming an expert on bookshelves. Please, let me know if you know of any other good books on the topic of bookshelves or home libraries. I can never dive deep enough into a pile of books about books. Hope your Nonfiction November is going well.

WEEK 2: BOOK PAIRING #NONFICNOV

This week’s host for Nonfiction November 2019 is Sarah over at Sarah’s Book Shelves. This week all of the participants are are to offer a couple of books that dovetail nicely following Sarah’s directions: “It can be a ‘If you loved this book, read this!’ or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.”

The last time I participated in Nonfiction November I offered up a books-about-books pairing. For 2019, I’d like to pair up two books that talk about change. Specifically the fear of change while standing in the shadow of the rapidly evolving world of technology. It’s all moving so fast!

David Sax’s The Revenge of the Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter is a couple of years old and a very good read. While Sax never gets overly romantic over the things and ideas he covers, he does a good job of highlighting the benefits and uniqueness of vinyl recordings, paper, board games, etc. I recently heard a technologist say something along the lines of “… the better digital tools get at helping us, the more relevant and needed analog tools are.” It almost sounds like a contradiction, but it’s really about what it means to have a worthwhile experience and experience the world your body lives in. These are themes that Sax covers with humor, understanding and critically all at the same time. I highly recommend this book.

A wonderful counter balance to Sax’s book is Laurence Scott’s The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World . This nonfiction book came out in 2015 and is a wonderful (almost philosophical) take on what it means to walk around with a computer in your pocket, with the ability to instantly be connected digitally to anyone on the planet. There’s a ton being thrown at us every day and it can be tough to navigate. Scott’s writing is beautiful and full of empathy and understanding as he shares some of his experiences with an “always on” lifestyle. I mean the technology is here, how do we learn to cope with it and keep it in check while using it to its fullest potential to better our world.

Where David Sax offers up a summary judgement in The Revenge of the Analog Laurence Scott offers a slower “we’re all in this together so let’s try to get it right because I don’t know either” take in The Four-Dimensional Human.

If you ever find yourself wondering or worrying about the phone, music, books, ebooks, Spotify, etc. I think you’d enjoy both of these books.

AND THE FICTION PARING FOR EITHER OF THOSE. . .

If fiction is what you’re in the mood for, then check out Tim Mason’s The Darwin Affair . I’ve been recommending it to friends that enjoy historical fiction. As a thriller/mystery it’s a fair read, but it all centers on the real world release of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and the effect it had on the world at the time. Talk about a world that was afraid of change and newly rapidly evolving ideas! It was crazy times, for sure.

AND AS A NONFICTION NOVEMBER BONUS FOCUSING ON BOOKS AND FEAR OF CULTURAL CHANGE. . .

If podcasts are your current jam, then I’d recommend listening to the Pessimists Archive episode titled The Novel. Click through to their page and check out a couple of the highlights from the show notes:

  • “Too Much Reading is Harmful” by Angelo Patri (1938)
  • Novel Reading: A Cause of Female Depravity, The Monthly Mirror, 1797
  • Thomas Jefferson worries about children reading novels

Can you imagine being scared of the affect “longer books” would have on society? Talk about crazy times!?

Happy Nonfiction November!

Week 5: My Full NonFicNov Recap

This week officially wrap’s up Nonfiction November 2017. I had a lot of fun over the past few weeks. I’ve bumped into some very cool bookish folks, found some new blogs to follow and most importantly – found some interesting books to read. I mean Mount TBR is never big enough, you know?

These future reads are what make up the closing week’s writing prompt for #nonficnov, which is being hosted by Lory over at The Emerald City Book Review:

It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

Here are the books, with links to the blog posts mentioning them, that I ran into this month. The topics are all over the map and all had some very cool things said about them.

Thanks to LibraryThing, I have been tracking lots of data about the books on my shelves. Over the past few years I have been tracking not only where I buy a book from, but how I heard about the book. This piece of any reader’s journey fascinates me. How do we find the books we choose to read? A few years ago it was all Twitter for me. Looking at the numbers, I see that, for two years, podcasts were my #1 source for book recommendations.

But this year is shaping up to be mostly books recommended by bloggers I follow or books I stumbled upon while visiting the library. There’s still a month to go and it’s too close to call. But either way, I think I like the way this is trending for me.

I hope you found some interesting reads this past month. If you missed out on the all the fun, you can search for #nonficnov on all the platforms and I bet you’ll bump into someone there talking about good books.

Thanks again to all the organizers of this year’s Nonfiction November.

Bookmarks Magazine

It’s a special day when my issue of Bookmarks magazine arrives in the mailbox every couple of months. It’s one of the few magazine subscriptions that I have held onto over the years and I can say with certainty that I will keep it as long as they stay in print.

I’m always surprised how many bookish friends are unfamiliar with the magazine. Have you heard of it?

It only comes out 6 times a year, but every issue is dripping with bookish info. At their core, they are a book review aggregator. For every book listed in each issue, they offer a brief synopsis, their collection of snippets from well known newspapers and online book sections, and a brief synopsis rolling up all of those  reviews they read and collected.

I have to say it’s been fun reading the reviews over the years and having a sense of how The NY Times and Washington Post and Huffington Post may differ on genre’s or authors or writing techniques. You really start to get a feel for the people behind the reviews, simply by paying attention to the trends over time.

Every issue always features a Book Club. This is always the first thing I turn to in each issue. It’s fun to read how all of the book clubs got started and how long they’ve been together. It’s also neat to read which books worked and did not work for their group discussions.

Bookmarks magazine also runs features each month. These spend a few pages talking about an author and their work as a whole, going title by title. Or (November/December 2017 issue) they’re focusing on “Books for Library Lovers”, which is a topic I will show up for!

If you keep up with the ‘book space’ then you’ll probably recognize 40% of the names, books, stories, etc. in each issue. I mean, all those books and authors are popular for a reason. But the rest of it is made up of reader-submitted lists, collections, recommendations and of course, the aggregated book review list.

It’s so fun. I’m always looking for other Bookmarks readers to converse with.

Do you read Bookmarks magazine?