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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Making an Orchestra

This week, your correspondent cut up a first edition signed copy of 1931's Making an Orchestra by Dorothy Berliner Commins.  How could he do it? Only because someone in the 30's had already begun the cutting!  He was simply completing a work in progress.  And what a work-- kind of a cross between an obsessive-compulsive disorder (not that there is anything wrong with that) and a Kafka novel (ditto).

Printed on good-quality paper that hasn't been seen since the war, this book features drawings of all the members of a standard symphony orchestra, and a few outliers, meant to be cut out and pasted onto a diagram, where they stand up with the maestro at their head.

Delightfully, every string section is made up entirely of clones.  Also, there is only one horn player, though even Haydn used two, and Mahler generally required eight.  But, there is one of every percussion instrument.  There is even a basset horn, which apparently is an alto clarinet, and is certainly arcane by today's standards.  But then, so is the orchestra getting to be.

Noteworthy is that there is not one woman, not even playing harp (a notoriously feminine instrument-- or perhaps of undetermined gender, like the angels that traditionally play it).

Ms. Commins was a pianist and the author of several books.  She lived until the ripe age of 102. Times may have changed since the 1930's, but Making an Orchestra lives on, now in 3 dimensions.

--written by Kam

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Museum of Weird Books: The Poodle

It is no surprise that man's best friend has many volumes devoted to him/her/it.

Nonetheless, with the passage of time, certain tomes achieve the status required for incorporation in Pistil's Museum of Weird Books. To wit:  Poodle Books.

The Poodle, 1984 incarnation:

Has the poodle had its day?  In 2017, your correspondent judges that the soi disant Labradoodle is more   popular than his sire.

To contemporary eyes, the poodle of 1971 looks like a marshmallow confection (and that goes for the moustaches of the poodle handlers as well).

The poodle of 1966 looks like certain big-haired celebrities we can all call to mind.

The future of poodle books?  It is too early to speculate.  Maybe the poodle will have a comeback, sporting the sophisticated, digital- and laser-cuts of the 21st century.

Au revoir, Fifi!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Apropos Bookplate

Today we listed a little book from 1910 called, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, by the British writer Arnold Bennett which contains advice on the problem of time-expenditure.  I was amused to open it up and find the following bookplate:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December Sale

December Book Sale -
20% Off Everything
Over 14,000 titles in all categories are 20% Off through the month of December if you order directly from Pistil Books.   Local customers can make an appointment to pick up your order to eliminate shipping costs, or have your books shipped to you.

Fiction, art, poetry, nature, do-it-yourself, science, history, cooking, children's, architecture, poetry... and much more are all on sale.

We have lots of delightful vintage books, as well as recent like-new titles that would make perfect holiday gifts.  Check out our sturdy, colorful blank books made from recycled ex-library and other old books.

Wishing you wonderful winter reading,

Amy, Sean, Tim, Troy, and Kam, Pistil Staff

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mushrooms and Toadstools

Happy Thanksgiving!  We are spending the holiday in the San Juan Islands where we're experiencing an exciting windstorm.  Looking out the window from our cozy cabin, the water is choppy on the bay, a raven is struggly to fly against the gusts, and madrona berries are scattered festively over the front porch.  It is not raining.... yet.

We are planning an afternoon hike in the autumn woods, where we know from previous Thanksgiving vacations we will see a variety of fungi.  At Pistil Books, nature guidebooks are one of our specialties and we have a good collection of mushroom books (in part thanks to staff member Tim, who pared down his personal collection not long ago).

Perhaps we'll see a certain caterpillar with a hookah on our excursion.

To help you celebrate, here's a link to some great holiday sales deals from the Etsy Vintage Team.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Buckram Beauty

I recently added a new batch of our handmade recycled blank books made from discarded library books to our inventory.  Most of the old library books that I use have a library binding made from buckram cloth.  Buckram is a stiff cloth usually made from cotton or linen and is very durable.  Library buckram bindings are often bright colors and patterns.

Check out these beauties:

One of the great things about using a recycled book as your journal is it comes with an inspiring title - how about Within the Circle, Poems of Faith and Doubt, or Paradoxes of Order?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gender in the 80's

This week we take a look at 2 books from late-20th century America.

You're Either One or the Other, by Joy Wilt (Word, Inc., Waco, TX, 1980), would certainly never pass muster in 2016, when you are not necessarily one or the other.  But the book is politically correct according to the lights of the time.

 It does not go so far as to suggest that boys can try on their mothers' clothing (see cover), but it does suggest that while some boys enjoy driving nails, others enjoy thinking about having babies (vicariously, of course).

 As for women's issues, though the drawing illustrating a girl's development shows her going from cheerleader through graduate to leather-booted shopper, she can also decide to surprise her husband by taking faulty electronics in to the repair shop.

The Assertive Librarian, by Janette S. Caputo (Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ, 1984), also dates itself by its title.  "Assertive" would hardly be part of a job description in today's library environments.

This book is curious because it is 242 pages long, includes detailed analyses of eyebrow positions as indicators of mood, and seems like a general guide to functioning in a work setting.  And yet, every so often the word "librarian" makes its appearance, suggesting a very specific, not to say narrow, targeted reading audience. 

The author is careful to point out that assertiveness is not to be confused with aggression, and avoids using any pronouns that would assign a gender to the assertive librarian in question.

Coming up: Bodily Secretion Books, alternativley styled BS Books or TMI Books.