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Friday, April 22, 2011


Sean and I just returned from a trip to Istanbul, Turkey.  We saw amazing mosques, walked down tiny twisty roads that also somehow accommodated cars (a bumper passing by inches from your ankles was normal), ate delicious Turkish food, visited a fishing village on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and an island with only horse-drawn carriages (no cars!).  We also went to quite a few museums, one of which was the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum where we saw many beautiful illuminated Korans, like the Ottoman period one in the photo.  These, of course, were under glass and so open to only one set of pages, making us wonder if all the pages in the thick books were as intricately gilded and decorated.

Reading Notes
I have been continuing to make my way through the reading list for a course I'll be taking in June on the History of the Book, 200-2000 at Rare Book School at the University of Virginia:

John Carter. ABC for Book Collectors.
Christopher de Hamel. Scribes and Illuminators
Michael Twyman. The British Library Guide to Printing: History and Techniques.
Warren Chappell. A Short History of the Printed Word.
Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe.

Scribes and Illuminators was quite interesting (especially in light of seeing the illuminated Korans), describing the creation of a book from the  preparation of the vellum or parchment,  the quill pens, paints and inks used, to the writing of the scripts and the final gilt and ink decoration and illumination of the book and the distribution by stationers and booksellers.  I must say The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe is slow going -- very academic and clunkily written, in my opinion.

For run, I read The Best American Short Stories 2010, edited by Richard Russo, which was quite hit-or-miss (and the series editor speaks of the disappearance of literary magazines in America, perhaps leading to fewer submissions to choose from?).  One story I quite enjoyed was "All Boy" by Lori Ostlund, about a gay eleven-year-old boy, a voracious reader, who starts the story literally in the closet.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Just got our first order from Japan since the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster:  Nuke-Rebuke: Writers and Artists Against Nuclear Energy & Weapons.  A little heart-wrenching.  I'm sending along a copy of Helen Caldicott's Nuclear Power is Not the Answer as a gift.

On a completely different note, we just received our first check from Book-It Repertory Theatre from sales of books we filled their newly launched lobby book cart with.  The books are selling for $3 each and we are splitting the proceeds with Book-It.  I'm really happy to have such a good venue for passing along books that aren't up to snuff for the extremely competitive internet sales market, but are perfectly good, readable and valuable.  Their next show is Sense and Sensibility in June.