Friday, February 29, 2008

Judging a book by its cover

This is one of my all-time favorite book covers (technically it's the front cover of a jacket). I'm not sure exactly what it is about it that makes me so drawn to it. The first time UNP designer Annie Shahan showed it to me I said that I would buy that book for the jacket alone. I love the colors, the image, and especially the way she handled the type.

In the Shadow of Memory
by Floyd Skloot
University of Nebraska Press

In December 1988 Floyd Skloot was stricken by a virus that targeted his brain, leaving him totally disabled and utterly changed. In the Shadow of Memory is an intimate picture of what it is like to find oneself possessed of a ravaged memory and unstable balance and confronted by wholesale changes in both cognitive and emotional powers. Skloot also explores the gradual reassembling of himself, putting together his scattered memories, rediscovering the meaning of childhood and family history, and learning a new way to be at home in the world. Combining the author’s skills as a poet and novelist, this book finds humor, meaning, and hope in the story of a fragmented life made whole by love and the courage to thrive.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


A new typographic term meaning the result of improper kerning.
from Ironic Sans via Boing Boing

Teeny Project Runway

A couple of my favorites

The entries are in and it's time to vote in Mason-Dixon Knitting's teeny project runway contest. You can see all of the entries in a flickr group here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New craft projects

This tutorial shows how to make these rings:

They're homemade ShrinkyDinks!! I love them. I'm going to try it—is anyone else interested?

Also, this no-sew jersey scarf (instructions here):

I ran across both of these via the craft and found blog.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscars 2008

One of the things I most look forward to after the Oscars: Cintra Wilson's column the day after. You really should go read the whole thing (and ones from previous years, as well).

Here are some highlights:

The third "Enchanted" number had waltzing couples dressed like Cinderella and Prince Charming, which could only have been choreographed by John Ashcroft or a 6-year-old girl.

To karmically rebalance these mortal offenses, Bob Fosse must rise and vengefully return from his grave to fan-kick down the door of Robert Iger's summer home and terrorize him with zombie jazz hands.


In a year where most of the actresses were shielded from their own regrettable taste by professional stylists like Rachel Zoe, best supporting actress winner Tilda Swinton, at least, was bravely and refreshingly fashion-forward enough to look bonkers. She wore no makeup and what looked like a velvet Isamu Noguchi coffee table, and spoke in insouciant, artistic free verse about Oscar's naked buttocks in the great weirdo-artiste tradition of Dustin Hoffman.


Real life, for all its broken noses, cigarette butts and bad decisions, is more beautiful than the L'OrĂ©al illusion, or six hours in the grip of Rachel Zoe—provided you can muster enough emotional intelligence to feel your way out of a paper bag, and you're not so desperately afraid of offending people or not looking pretty that you can't move your face or be funny anymore.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oddest book title of the year

The Bookseller magazine has announced the shortlist for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year:

I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
How to Write a How to Write Book
Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues
Cheese Problems Solved
If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs
People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Dr Feelgood

(thanks, Courtney)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

New books

I haven't read anything by these authors before so I can't wait to dig in.

Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin
(ebook from

The Learners: A Novel by Chip Kidd
(cloth from the University Bookstore at UNL)

Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by by Leonie Swann
(cloth from the University Bookstore at UNL)

I finished Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

I purchased it as an ebook for $8.99 from (Amazon shows a list price of $15.00 and their price of $10.20 for a regular book). I use the free version of the eReader software on my Palm Treo (also downloaded from I order and download the ebook on my computer and then install it on my Treo. However, there are some issues with Microsoft Vista so I can't install the ebook in the usual way. That's ok, though, because the work-around is just as easy: I email the ebook file to myself as an attachment then just open the attachment on my Treo and it installs automatically.

I read my first Jodi Picoult book a couple of years ago and right away I was hooked. They sound so obvious (and sort of ridiculous) in a short description, but I'm usually amazed at how interesting, subtle, and multi-layered they are. That said, Salem Falls is probably my least favorite so far—I found it particularly unbelievable in places (one—or two—too many coincidences) and much more predictable than the others.

Salem Falls was published in 2001 and was a Booksense 76 Pick. Here is the brief synopsis:
Jack St. Bride was once a beloved teacher and soccer coach at a girls' prep school - until a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his career and reputation. Now, after a devastatingly public ordeal that left him with an eight-month jail sentence and no job, Jack resolves to pick up the pieces of his life. He takes a job washing dishes at Addie Peabody's diner and slowly starts to form a relationship with her in the quiet New England village of Salem Falls. But just when Jack thinks he has outrun his past, a quartet of teenage girls with a secret turn his world upside down once again, triggering a modern-day witch hunt in a town haunted by its own history…

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bday party

We had my birthday party Saturday night. Thanks to everyone who attended—and if you couldn't make it this year we hope to see you next time.

My bookshelf

This is part of a shelf in our living room. As you can see, my books are not at all organized. I could come up with some excuses for this, but it's just laziness.

My dream is to some day have them all not only organized but cataloged. I want the catalog to be elecronic but I also want to print the records on cards so I can have my own little card catalog. I really should be looking for old card drawers—I'd imagine they're only going to get harder to find. If you spot some, be sure to let me know.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I finished Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

This was the first novel for Kallos who is apparently a Lincoln native. I agree with an Amazon review I read: I loved the first half, but the second became too manipulative and obvious for my tastes. Over all, though, I would say that my enjoyment outweighed my annoyance.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One for the crafters

Over at Mason-Dixon Knitting they're holding a teeny Project Runway contest. Some of the rules:
  • Your choice of NON-BEAR, non-human stuffed animal, statue, figurine, taxidermy, whatever.
  • It can be any size from teeny to a maximum of 24" (60 cm). We don't care what sort of animal it is, so long as it's not a bear.
  • Your garment must be completely your own creation. Nothing made from a pattern.
  • The garment must be knitted. Crocheters can go make up their own contest.
For more details, and the rest of the rules, see the Mason-Dixon Knitting website.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sedaris bio

"Charting a course from Marcel Proust to Tony Danza, Kevin artfully captures the exquisite pleasure and pain of reading David Sedaris. A witty, thoughtful, intimate encounter."
—David Hyde Pierce

"If I were to read a book on David Sedaris it might be this one." —Paul Reubens

Last week a friend told me about Sedaris, a new biography by Kevin Kopelson (University of Minnesota Press). I don't know much about it yet, except that it was chosen for the AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Show. The shows mission is "to 'honor and instruct': honoring the design and production teams whose work furthers a long tradition of excellence in book design, and—through a traveling exhibit and acclaimed annual catalog of selected entries—visually teaching the tenets of good design." The show will be at UNP some time this spring and I can't wait.

Needless to say, I plan to get this book. I'll post more about it and the AAUP book show later.

Ted Kooser's "Valentines"

Last night was the "Valentines" event at the Rococo Theater (oh excuse me, I mean Theatre). Man, I love that place. I would apologize for all of my photos being so dark, but I'm not sorry. In fact, we were all thrilled that they kept the lights down low for the event. It was a lovely evening and a good excuse to get dressed up for a change. (click on the images for bigger ones)

In the introduction, Ted says:

I hope you have fun with these poems. I suppose some of them have a little literary merit but, really, they were written with pleasure and meant for the reader's fun. I hope you enjoy the reading half as much as I enjoyed the writing, the licking of stamps, and the addressing to all those women who were willing to tolerate my foolishness.

The books themselves were beautifully designed by UNP's Andrea Shahan.

That's Debra Winger on the left and Ted on the right. Ms. Winger also read a really wonderful excerpt from her forthcoming book, Undiscovered.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm no psychic

I wrote about Kindle here. While I don't want one now, I would be more interested in a device designed to handle a wide variety of content types: blogs, websites, books, newspapers, magazines, etc. I currently read books and do a little online browsing (checking weather & movie times, email, and Google Reader mostly) on my Treo, but many websites aren't really readable.

I am not, however, going to make any predictions because I am really bad at it. For example, I predicted that there was no way that George W. Bush would become president in 2000.

Also, back in the late 1970s or very early 1980s my brother and I saw something on TV about the new trend of filming rock bands performing their songs and creating little movies out of them. I think the show featured an interview with Michael Nesmith who claimed that these "video records" would be the next big thing. I thought it was possibly the stupidest thing I had ever seen. I predicted the trend would go nowhere.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Top 10 drunk American writers

“Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl's clothes off.” —Raymond Chandler

The top 10 Drunk American Writers from Alternative Reel.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Kooser Valentines event

I'm really excited about the Ted Kooser Valentines event this Saturday. I've been lucky enough to receive valentines from Ted since I started working at the University of Nebraska Press in 2000. I love to hear him read and with Debra Winger hosting it should be an interesting evening.

I'm also excited because I'm attending with my pal Cinnamon from A Novel Idea Bookstore (one of my favorite bookstores). Since both of our birthdays are in February we are pretending that the entire event is in our honor.


I buy and read ebooks on my Palm Treo using the eReader free version. I also still buy a lot of real books. A few years ago I realized that I needed to start being a little more choosy about which books I keep. As a result, I decided that I would try to buy the mysteries I read in mass market paperback whenever possible and that I wouldn't keep them (I generally don't keep paperbacks at all any more. Well, that's my rule but I make a lot of exceptions).

Now I just buy them as ebooks and read them on my phone.
  • I always have a book with me
  • no extra "thing" to carry because it's in my phone which I'd have with me anyway
  • no book to get rid of afterward
  • they're cheaper
Many people say that they wouldn't be able to read a whole book on the tiny screen, but it doesn't bother me at all. One nice feature is that you can adjust the font style and size to your liking.