Category Archives: Things We Like

Back in with the old, still room for the new

I finally got around to reading an interview a friend sent me a while back. Avi Solomon of Boing Boing interviewed Jack Zylkin, inventor of the USB Typewriter. I remember hearing about this thing back when he first announced it to the world, typewriter nerds everywhere rejoiced, including me.

But there seems to be something deeper at work here. More than just some mad scientist who’s fusing the past and future in some unnecessary but novel creation, Zylkin is trying to preserve something that our increasingly fast-paced lives are losing room for. The key is that Zylkin isn’t trying to do away with the conveniences of, say, an iPad; instead, he’s trying to highlight the benefits of a typewriter — nostalgia, sure, but also focus and tangible results — while taking advantage of data backup and storage.

“The other thing is that technology today is so disposable! For example, no one thinks about passing down their iPhone3 as a family heirloom (they probably are selling them to buy iPhone4s) but the typewriters I work on have been around for about 100 years and still look and work great!

Lastly, there is also real nostalgia for the olden days of communication, where you could look forward to receiving a letter or an invitation in the mail (as opposed to a twitter or an evite). Hopefully the USB Typewriter will help reclaim some of the intimacy and specialness of the art of letter writing.”

A man after my own heart. Read the full interview here.

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Everything I needed to know, I learned through literature.

I saw this guest post over at vintch today, and couldn’t help but share it. I love the idea of mapping out the specific things you learned from books over the years. I mean, it’s pretty much the goal of this little blog right here, but I’m working on a more specific list similar to Cara-Mia‘s. Check out the post and tell me, what books and lessons would be on your list?

Happy Friday! One week from tomorrow is the Boston Book Fest! Will I see you there?


Come on baby, light my fire.

I haven’t yet jumped onto the eReader bandwagon. It’s not because I want to defend physical books to the death. Nor do I subscribe to some conspiracy theory about how, once physical books are replaced by digital books, our history of knowledge will be unpluggable. (Did that make sense? It’s a scary thought, and one someone should write a book about — Margaret Atwood busy these days? — and one I don’t care to flesh out in my mind.) The real reason is that I don’t have the money — not only for the physical eReader, but for all of the digital goodies thereafter. I’m a library rat, and I think strong partnerships between publishers and libraries is necessary to equalize the digital consumer market (and usher it into public right rather than commodity). Until I can easily borrow a book from my local library and load it onto my (affordable) eReader, I don’t see myself making the investment.

Enter the Kindle Fire, Continue reading

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Stand up for your books.

While I have never been Jewish or sat shiva, I found other themes and situations relatable in Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave YouThe same goes for young adults. Who are we to say what a young teenager can handle? There are no censors on life; there is no age discrimination for when a person might experience death, poverty, or sexual assault, and so a censor on literature labeled “young adult” is just as arbitrary. Which is why when I read Tahleen’s defense of YA literature and its themes, I thought it was a great example of the necessity of the scope of literature and its themes.  Whether a young adult has experienced firsthand any of the dark themes outlined by Meghan Cox Gurdon or not, its presence in their reading material can serve as the beginning of a very necessary dialogue.

I’d love to hear what you think, as I’m sure would Tahleen.

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Librarians speak up; McGraw-Hill listens

McGraw Hill’s e-book policy with libraries finally takes into consideration those that know libraries the best: Librarians.

The McGraw-Hill eBook Library will offer about 1500 titles in pre-assembled collections covering engineering, computing, business, medicine, and study aids. New books will be added at no additional cost, but custom collections are not available.

“Once you subscribe to a specific collection, you would get access only for this collection,” Ann Pryor, a senior publicity manager for McGraw Hill, told LJ. “For example if you bought one-year subscription to the Business Library, you would get access for one year to 406 titles and the additional front-list updates that are going to be added to this collection throughout the year,” she said.

The company chose the unlimited concurrent usage model based on market research with librarians and patrons, Pryor said.

“We believe that in this stage of the digital transformation and the way content is currently consumed in libraries and corporations, the unlimited concurrent usage model addresses the needs of our customers in the most effective way,” she said. “For example, during ‘high-demand’ seasons, like midterms or finals, all the interested students in the academic libraries will have access to our content without limitation. We expect that to improve patrons’ performance, the librarians’ satisfaction level from this product, and our position in this market segment,” Pryor said.

Launched on May 13, McGraw Hill’s policy supports the rich tradition of libraries and ushers in the digital age.

What do you think?

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One Week Away!

The list for the Boston Book Bloggers Summer Reading Suggestions is up at the Porter Square Books blog! I’ll presenting alongside some wonderful book bloggers, which means a very nerve-wracking and humbling experience, for sure. If not to see my sweaty hands, come for these guys and gals: 3 Guys One Book; Books on the Nightstand; Boston Bibliophile; and Boston Book Bums. Check them out, check out their recommendations, and get excited. Come join us at 7pm at Porter Square Books for book talk and The Things They Read stickers!

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Humming Ulysses.

Thanks to Today’s Letters for the heads up on this guy. His album is about to be released (for free), but I couldn’t help but share this literary song sneak peek. Enjoy!

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Interview with a Librarian

Sorry, Brad Pitt’s not in this one. Instead, there’s a witty librarian who hails from Mississippi named B. David.  HTMLGiant’s Sean Lovelace called up “10 public libraries in 10 random states” and asked to interview a librarian via email. Out of all ten he received several hang ups, several email addresses, but only one full email interview.

Some of the highlights:

HTMLGiant: Have you seen a major shift lately in reader tastes and the types of books they read?

David: This is impossible to answer….Every community has its needs though. I mean, you travel to one library, and paranormal fiction is their thing. You drive to a little town filled with Yuppies, and they got tons of books on how to shop at Whole Foods and buy J. Crew. It really just depends. So, no…No major shift.

Out of his little lottery, it seems that Lovelace got an interview from one of the best candidates. Check out more of the insightful and optimistic interview at HTMLGiant.

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What I’ll be reading very soon.

Like I’ve said I keep saying, I’m almost done with the Oates memoir. Last night, I picked up two books from the library to ease my fear that I will be without reading material while I’m away again this weekend. Both of my picks are short story collections to continue my celebration of Short Story Month 2011, and to hopefully find some fodder for more short story reviews. What’s on the docket? I’m glad you asked…
Continue reading

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A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka

 It’s sunny out! I took advantage of working from home today and went for a little walk to the coffeeshop here in Ludlow, The Radical Roaster. It’s adorable and serves peanut butter + nutella lattes. It was the perfect inspiration to get reading and writing today, to start off the weekend right!

As a continued celebration of Short Story Month 2011, I revisited Franz Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist.” I was reminded of this story in Joyce Carol Oates’s A Widow’s Story, which I’m currently reading. The story is amply available on the internet.

David Foster Wallace talked about Kafka’s humor in his speech, aptly titled, “Laughing with Kafka.” He talked about how many of his literature students missed the point, that Kafka was painfully funny, but not in the way many people these days are funny: Continue reading

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