Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Books as Objects

It seems to me that sculpting books into art is a somewhat newish trend in the art world. Given some people's reverence for "the book," this trend would seem almost sacrilegious. However, there are so many old, unwanted, worn, dirty books going into landfills, that to me this use of books seems like a creative, if provocative solution to dealing with the piles of paper an information society produces.

Check out the book sculptures below and see what you think.

Jonathan Callan is a British artist whose work as been featured recently on the Rag and Bone blog. The color and form of some pieces are very organic, reminding me of tree rings. Other pieces are more surrealistic. The piece below suggests to me some of the more difficult books we've read in Readers Roundtable.

You can see more of Callan's work on London's Houldworth Gallery website.

Jim Rosenau is a Berkeley artist who describes his work as "funny and functional art made from vintage books." To appreciate the wit of his pieces, look closely at the titles of the books and consider how they relate to each other as well as to any other objects he incorporates into the sculpture.

Finally, Brian Dettmer cuts the book cover so it frames the contents of the book. Then he painstakingly sculpts down through the pages inside (without actually cutting out the pages) to reveal the various pictures and text contained within.

Check out his work at the Aron Packer Gallery website. He also works with maps and cassette tapes. I love the name of his show: Altered States (explorations in media modification).

Thanks Reference Librarian Pam for turning me on to Rosenau's and Dettmer's works.

Book Talk: Black Artists in Oakland

Arcadia Publishing has a very nice set of local history books. This particular title, Black Artists in Oakland, was just published in July, and it's on order here at the library. Here's the description:
Oakland's famous and vibrant arts heritage is known throughout the country, but many people are unaware of the extent of this city's contribution to the national stage in terms of music, dance, visual arts, and literature. Black Artists in Oakland celebrates this amazing story over the past half century through vintage images, from the early days of Slim Jenkinss nightclub to the changing styles of Esthers Orbit Room and the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. More than 200 photographs lift the curtain on many inspiring artistsmasters in their chosen aesthetic and neighbors to the community. Among the artists highlighted in these pages are Ruth Beckford, Raymond Saunders, Alice Walker, and E. W. Wainwright
Books , Inc. in Alameda will be hosting a talk and signing with the book's authors on Friday, September 7 at 7:30. I think it'll be a fascinating hour of local culture and history, and maybe I'll see you there.
Jerry Thompson and Duane Deterville at Books Inc. in Alameda

Time: Friday, September 7, 2007 7:30 PM
Location: Books Inc. in Alameda, 1344 Park Street, Alameda, 510-522-2226
Jerry Thompson and Duane Deterville authors of Black Artists in Oakland will discuss Oakland’s famous and vibrant arts heritage is known throughout the country, but many people are unaware of the extent of this city’s contribution to the national stage in terms of music, dance, visual arts and literature. Black Artists in Oakland celebrates this amazing story over the past half century.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


If you like going to author book talks, you may want to visit and subscribe to BookTour.com. It's an easy to use website that tells you which authors are currently speaking in your area. You can also use this site to contact authors who you want to speak at your organization or event. Find out more in the About Us section of the website.

I subscribed to their newsletter and they sent me this email notice today:
Greetings from BookTour.com! This week we introduced a new section of the site devoted to stories of authors' misadventures on the road: http://booktour.com/stories.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How many books did you read last year?

I'd guess considerably more than the average American. Here's the new AP poll on America's reading habits.
Here's the story on CNN's web site:
And the poll from AP/Ipsos:

Thanks Kelly!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Article about Uyghur People of Western China

Elizabeth forwarded this link to an article about the Uyghur people, which she mentioned in our Heaven Lake book discussion. It's a fascinating, but sad article. It doesn't sound like the Uyghur are living the happy, nomadic existence that Vincent witnessed.
"In Heaven Lake, the Uyghur people of western China figure prominently.

This is a link to an article by Ted Rall that I ready recently. He's basically a political cartoonist, but he has taken a particular interest in Central Asia, and has traveled there quite a bit."


- Elizabeth Kallquist

Movie Trailer: The Kite Runner

The movie version of The Kite Runner is scheduled for a November 2 release. Here's the preview.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Another Library Blog

The Williamsburg Regional Library in Virgina has very nice blog of librarian-authored book reviews called Blogging for Books. The reviews are well-written, insightful, and fun to read. If you find a reviewer whose literary tastes are similar to yours, you can click on their name at the end of the review to get a list of other reviews they've written.

So, if you like to browsing for books, check it out.
Blogging for Books
Read a new review every day, Monday through Friday! The staff of the in Virginia bring you short reviews of books, movies, and more!
A different staff member picks favorite reviews for each different week.

Thanks for the tip Kelly!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Book Suggestions

I've just been given a 9/18 deadline for selecting the Spring 2008 booklist for Readers Roundtable. So, please email me with any books suggestions you have or bring them to our next Readers Roundtable meeting on September 6. We'll be selecting 4 books for the months February to May.

I've received a few suggestions so far. One person proposed that we read more African-American authors. Good idea! Does anyone have any favorite titles/authors they'd like to recommend? I'd think it'd be interesting to read something by a contemporary African-American author on current day issues. But whatever title/s the group picks is fine by me. There's lots to choose from. I'll also bring some suggestions to the next meeting.

Here's a list of other books (in no particular order) I've gotten so far from Roundtable members and librarians. Please review. We can discuss them at the next meeting.
  • The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai This book about India won the 2006 Man Booker Prize and the National Critics Circle Award.
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. Taryn, a Reference Librarian, just gave this an intriguing write up in "Staff Recommendations."
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Anne Dillard. A meditation on nature that won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize and as since become a modern classic.
  • Carmelo by Sandra Cisneros. Apparently a good, sprawling read on the Mexican immigrant experience in 20th century America.
  • Timothy, or Notes on an Abject Reptile by Verlyn Klinkenborg. An unusual book that was enthusiastically recommended to me by several people and the critics also loved it...and its only 200 pages.
  • Half of the Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book was a finalist for several prizes and won the Orange Prize for Fiction. The person who recommended it liked it for its well-drawn characters and history of West Africa. I'd like to read it for these reasons and because I've read so few books about Africa actually written by Africans.
So, look these over and see what interests you, and feel free to suggest more titles.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

News: "Austen on YouTube"

For those who enjoy Jane Austen movies, Linda forwarded me a New York Times article on a new trend that might tickle your fancy:
Austen on YouTube
Published: July 29, 2007

"A look at a few clever YouTube videos that capture Jane Austen in a
contemporary way."
If you don't have time to read the article, below are two of the YouTube videos mentioned in the article that I thought were good, silly fun. Each video is roughly 4 minutes long and consists of Jane Austen movies outtakes edited to current pop music hits. The editing is done by amateurs so it's a tad rough, but the enthusiasm shines though and the song choices are amusingly apt.

"Jane Austen Ladies 'Maneater'"

"Regency Men Bringing Sexy Back"

Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Linda alerted me that the longlist for England's Man Booker Prize for Fiction was just announced yesterday.
"The longlist of 13 books, the ‘Man Booker Dozen’, was chosen from 110 entries; 92 were submitted for the prize and 18 were called in by the judges....The 2007 shortlist will be announced on Thursday 6th September at a press conference at Man Group’s London office. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 16th October at an awards ceremony at Guildhall, London. (Link to full article.)"
Let me know if there's any on the list that you've read and liked. I only recognize two titles on the list: On Chesil Beach and The Reluctant Fundamentalist--neither of which I've read yet.

You may also want to check out the Man Booker Prize for Fiction online magazine called Perspective. It features author interviews and news as well as a debate section where readers can hold interactive debates.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Reminder: Book Club Meeting

Just a reminder that the Reader's Roundtable will be meeting this Saturday, August 4 at 2 pm to discuss the novel Heaven Lake.

If you have time, visit the author's, John Dalton's, website. Besides some reviews and interviews, there's also a link to pictures of India and China, including the real Heaven Lake.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Which do you prefer? Print or Audio?

Do you listen to audiobooks? Generally, I don't because they don't hold my attention the way print does. My focus wanders, and I lose my place too often to keep track of the narrative. Also, I've held onto the habit formed in college of underlining key passages and making comments in the margin. And finally, I just find it restful to occasionally look up from the page now and then and mull over what I've read.

But I know many people who prefer listening to books and they seem to get just as much out of listening as I do from reading. This makes me a bit envious since listening to books allows them to multi-task. They can take care of mundane tasks like cleaning, cooking, exercising, driving, etc. all the while being entertained by an audiobook. So now, some of my audiobook-listening friends not only lead more productive lives than me, they actually look forward to doing their chores!

But according to an article in today's New York Times, Your Cheatin' Listenin' Ways (8/2/07), some hardcore readers sneer at those who listen to audiobooks. And some book clubs don't even allow their members to listen to books. This seems a tad extreme to me. Okay, maybe if the club is a scholarly group, then yes, you should probably read the book in print. Otherwise, lighten up folks. To my mind, it's the content of the book, not the format that matters.

And for some, listening is not only a time saver, it's also an easier way to absorb information. Whether from deteriorating eyesight or learning differences, some people hear better than they read.

So for the record, I don't care if you read or listen to a book for the Readers Roundtable Book Club. What makes the book club worthwhile is that we enjoy thinking about and discussng the ideas, experiences, and information contained in the books we read--or listen to.

Your Cheatin' Listenin' Ways
JANICE RASPEN, a librarian at an elementary school in Fredericksburg, Va., came clean with her book club a couple years ago. They were discussing “A Fine Balance,” a novel set in India in the 1970s by Rohinton Mistry and an Oprah’s Book Club pick, when she told the group — all fellow teachers — that rather than read the book, she had listened to an audio version.

“My statement was met with stunned silence,” said Ms. Raspen, 38. Link to article.

Illustration by Christopher Sharp, The New York Times.