A fine example of a marvelous "book as object" came across my desk the other day: A New Guide to the Birds of Taiwan, published in Taiwan in 1976. The book's cover is a vibrant blue printed on textured (linen?) paper, and a cool windshield-wiper-swipe shape frames the showcased cover bird. The pages inside are a thin newsprint-like paper (often found in books printed in China and India), and features descriptions in English and Chinese of some 200 bird species, with black and white line drawings of many, and a section of color plates in the middle. When I was flipping through this delightful book, a typed postcard dated 1979 fell out. The postcard was from the editor of a journal called The Condor: "Your corrections of the spelling errors are much appreciated. I should have caught the format of the personal names myself, and am glad you pointed it out. Since our journal tries to be scholarly, we should be correct in all details, ornithological and otherwise." Having been an editorial assistant for a magazine in college, in the days when typewriters were still used in offices, this bit of ephemera from the past was appreciated.
I have to say I have a soft spot for nature guide books, which by nature (ha) have lovely illustrations. And I'm not the only one. Surrealist painter Mark Ryden's book The Tree Show opens with a lovely spread of tree guide books (and quite a few books on drawing trees) printed on the endpapers. I hadn't even realized until I saw these endpapers that I had my own collection of arboreal books growing on my personal shelves; they were kind of scattered about and hadn't been collected consciously, just randomly gathered one at a time by virtue of their graphic appeal.
The reading aloud of True History of the Kelly Gang continues slowly. We usually read after dinner on the sofa in front of the fire, or upstairs in bed. Sean loves being read aloud to, and almost immediatley falls asleep when he gets his wish. This makes for slow going, even though the book is pretty exciting.
I have put aside The End of Oil, planning to get back to it, and have started a book of short stories Do Not Deny Me (that I actually checked out of the library; quite unusual) by Jean Thompson, an author I discovered only a month or so ago, who has been compared to Alice Munro.