Friday, August 11, 2017

Gutenberg's Fingerprint - Merilyn Simonds

Sub-title: Paper, pixels and the lasting impression of books

What a great read!  The author takes us through the publication process of a new book of her short stories with a letterpress printer, interwoven with the history of paper, print, ink and books.  I must have used over a dozen sticky notes to mark comments I wanted to re-visit.  Just going to record them here and go buy the book on Amazon!


 [On reading from paper vs screen] "Touching the thickness of paper and turning it leaves a kind of fingerprint in the mind, a marker of what has been read." p.36

What's a wayzgoose?  [The printer explains] "the proprietor of the print shop would throw a going-away goose dinner [for apprentice going out on his own]. After a while, any party for the printers at a print shop or a newspaper was called a wayzgoose." [One is held in April in Grimsby, Ontario].

"One of the most common ligatures, the ampersand (&), was originally made by joining "e" and "t" which spelled "et" Latin for "and."."

[A good Scrabble word] Then he inserts a small key into the quoin a word I've used often in Scrabble although I didn't know it meant "corner", from the French "coin".

[Discussion of using blood as an ink] "The Scottish Convenanters signed their call for a Presbyterian Scotland in their own blood, wearing red neckerchiefs as their insignia (the genesis of the term redneck, which originally meant a Scottish dissenter)."

[First paperback] "David Smyth patented his book sewing machine in 1879.  Perfect binding - gluing instead of stitching - was invented twenty years later, but it was rarely used until 1931, when Germany's Albatross Books introduced the first paperback."

On page 298 there is a whole list of futuristic ideas for enjoying books; from a service that tracks what you read and organizes those reads in different ways to one that maps all the locations you've read about in books.  Yes, yes!

There's even a candle that smells like a book on Amazon (p.327)!

In the end, there is a party to celebrate the publication of her book of short stories with all the people that were involved in its creation.

A wonderful read, highly recommended!

Published: 2017   Read: August 2017  Genre: Non-fiction

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer

I thought I was going to like this book.  It's a story of a little girl in a red coat (reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood) who is abducted and struggles in captivity to maintain her identify.  It's told in parallel with the story of her grieving mother who is attempting to go on living.  I liked the way the characters personalities evolved as time passed and cheered for the child as I felt sorrow for the Mom.  But the author got lazy and wrapped up the story in a few short pages at the end that read like she was in a rush to finish.

Published: 2016  Read: August 2017  Genre: Fiction