Video SparkNote: 1984 by George Orwell

While growing up I held the impression that SparkNotes were something to be avoided, a scheme for cheaters who didn’t read their assignments. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I finally read a guide out of curiosity. It discussed George Orwell’s 1984.

I wish I had known before the value of these little books. I now purchase guides for all of my favorite literary classics. (SparkNotes covers a lot of other subjects also.)

Recently I came across VideoSparkNotes’s Channel on YouTube. Right at the top of the page is an animated video covering 1984. It contains a plot summary, an analysis, and a discussion of the major characters and themes from the classic novel. It’s worth a look for its incredible animation alone.

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Possible… or Probable? Future of Books

This short film from French publishing group Editis presents one vision of the future of books. The video doesn’t represent Editis’s digital strategy regarding the epublishing market, but encourages discussion of future possibilities in the market.

Originally filmed in 2007, this appears to be the latest version with english subtitles. You’ll want to skip ahead to the 45 second mark.

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Book to Feature Pics of Literary Tattoos

Blogger Justin Taylor of HTMLGiant and literary agent Eva Talmadge are looking for pictures of literary tattoos for an upcoming book.

Send us your ink! Submissions are open to all kinds of literary tattoo work: quotations from your favorite writer, opening lines of novels, lines of verse, literary portraits or illustrations. From Shakespeare to Bukowski to The Little Prince in a Baobab tree, if it’s a literary tattoo and its on your body, we want to see it.

They’re asking for high quality images, contact info, documentation and a few words on the image’s meaning to its bearer. If you have a literary tattoo you want to see in the book, details and contact info can be found here (NSFW).

I’m not one for tattoos, considering their historical association with witchcraft. (See Leviticus 19:28 if so inclined.) That said, I’m fascinated with the idea of feeling so strongly about a literary reference or motif so as to tattoo it on one’s body.

What do you think? Do you have any literary tattoos? Will you buy the book when it’s published?

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C. S. Richardson on Book Design

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Free Books, Black Activism & Charitable Contributions

My free book from Concord Free Press has arrived. Note the “100% OFF” sticker on the envelope.

Concord Free Press

Push Comes to Shove by Wesley Brown is set in the 1960s and 70s and follows a group of black activists struggling to make their place in the world. Mr. Brown is Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University and currently teaches literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

Push Comes to Shove

Concord Free Press is an experiment in generosity-based publishing. Upon request, books are are shipped anywhere in the world free of charge. There are no shipping and handling fees.

My obligation for receiving a free copy of Push Comes to Shove is three-fold:

  1. I must make a donation to a charity or person in need.
  2. I must chart my donation on the Concord Free Press website.
  3. I must pass the book along to someone else, so that they can give.

My original intent was to donate to 12for12k, but since I’ve chosen to donate to an alternate charity this month I plan to support the Pink Cross Foundation.

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Concord Free Press Experiments in Generosity-Based Publishing

Concord Free Press just released it’s second free book.

A small publisher from Massachusetts, Concord Free Press, is giving away 2,000 copies of Push Comes to Shove by Wesley Brown as part of an ongoing experiment in generosity-based publishing. Their first book was Give + Take by Stona Fitch. In October, the company plans to release a novel by bestselling author Gregory Maguire entitled The Next Queen of Heaven.

The books are reportedly nicely-designed paperbacks, free of ads, written by professional writers. Upon request, they are are shipped anywhere in the world free of charge. There are no shipping and handling fees. So what’s the catch?

All we ask of readers is that they make a voluntary donation to a charity or someone in need. And pass their book along so others can give. It’s a new kind of publishing based on generosity.

Private support, grants and connections within the publishing industry keep Concord Free Press in operation. So far, readers have contributed over $45,000 in donations around the world.

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More Bookish Spoils from Friends of the Library Sale

Books donated to the Ector County Library must go through an acquisitions process. Those which don’t make it into general circulation are donated to the Friends of the Library.

The Friends of the Library educates the public about the value of the library and encourages donations. A service of the organization — the Book Nook — offers books, magazines, software and audio/visual material for low prices.

Once again, the Book Nook hosted a really good sale. I was able to purchase 37 books for three dollars. Now I’m having a bit of a shelf space crisis.

I found three Anthony Trollope novels from his Palliser series, published by Oxford University Press, in good condition and with illustrations: Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux and The Prime Minister. Also, three by Frederick Forsyth — The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File and The Dogs of War — in a single volume from The Viking Press. The title page is embossed with a seal declaring the book to be from the “Library of Richard H. Harrison.” I don’t recall ever having seen an embosser used to mark a book from a personal library. All these items I picked up out of curiosity. I know little about the authors or their work.

Jubilee: One Hundred Years of the Atlantic, published by Atlantic Monthly, collects short writing from 1857 – 1957. It includes pieces from Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Mark Twain, Thornton Wilder, Virginia Wolfe, Eudora Welty and many others (including three U.S. Presidents). This volume is also embossed, but from a ranch library. Two smaller books I purchased are Squire Haggard’s Journal (also embossed from the library of Richard H. Harrison) by Michael Green, published by Prion, and a paperback of Louis L’Amour’s Crossfire Trail from Fawcett Gold Medal. I’ve never read any of L’Amour’s books, but I saw the Crossfire Trail movie starring Tom Selleck. If the book is always better than the movie, this should be quite a fine western novel.

Of course, I kept an eye open for comics. I snatched a second printing (December 1963) of Hey, Peanuts. Published by now-defunct Fawcett Publications, Inc., the book appears to be a reprint of More Peanuts Volume 2, which was published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston perhaps as early as 1952. I’ve never been a fan of MAD, but I brought home a copy of William M. Gaines’ Son of MAD. It’s a first printing from October 1959, published by Signet Books. I also got The Picture Bible from Chariot Books. My wife assures me I still have my childhood copy, so now I have two.

I enjoyed the televised version of The Yellow Wallpaper as a kid, and I was delighted to discover the story a few years ago. I’m not familiar with the author’s other works, but Bantam Books’ The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings by Charlotte Perkins Gilman should rectify the situation. I acquired a seventh printing (August 1959) of The Vintage Mencken (the selected writings are gathered by Alistair Cooke), The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout (Viking), Just One Look by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA, Inc.) and a 1974 Scholastic edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous.

A beautiful hardback edition of Edgar Allen Poe: Tales of Mystery and Imagination from The Franklin Library found it’s way home with me. The faux leather cover is adorned by an inlaid gold design featuring the infamous Gold Bug. The book is a bit dinged here and there, but far too nice to leave behind. Another influential author, Aldous Huxley, penned Eyeless in Gaza. I’ve never heard of it, but I grabbed this Bantam Classic edition from June 1961 as soon as I saw it. And speaking of the classics, World Masterpieces (Revised) Volume 1 has a bent cover and some underlining/notes in the margin, but I couldn’t pass up over 1700 pages of classic literature.

Literature We Appreciate (Charles Scribners Sons) is another thick volume at just over 1000 pages. This textbook by Russell Blankenship, Winifred H. Nash and Pauline Warner once belonged to the North Texas State teachers College in Denton. I picked up three books on the history of the English language — The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil (Penguin Books), Our Marvelous Native Tongue: The Life and Times of the English Language by Robert Clairborne (Times Books) and a gorgeous copy of Altered English by Jeffrey Kacirk (Pomegranate). Guess whose embossed seal I discovered on the title page of The Story of English. I also bought Palindromes and Anagrams by Howard W. Bergerson (Dover Publications, Inc.), Webster’s New World 33,000 Word Book and a Random House Thesaurus on the theory that one can’t have too many word books. Et cetera, Et cetera: Notes of a Word-Watcher (The Akadine Press) by Lewis Thomas came from the library of Richard H. Harrison. I should send this guy a ‘thank you’ note.

An important part of any literary study is the aspect of travel. The cover is a garish two-tone pink, but I’m sure Mark Twain’s Letters from Hawaii (University of Hawaii Press) is worth a read. I also selected Random House’s Literary England: Photographs of Places Made Memorable in English Literature by David E. Scherman and Richard Wilcox with a preface by Christopher Morley. It’s lovely photos are accompanied by selections from English classics. A novel dealing in part with international travel — 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff — was made into a movie starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. I was only vaguely aware of the original book. This copy is an Avon Books first printing from September 1974. For traveller’s tales of the imaginative sort, I picked up a Riverside Editions copy of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and a 1965 E.P. Dutton & Company, Inc. edition of A.A. Milne‘s The Pooh Story Book with full color illustrations by E.H. Shepard.

Yet, lest ye think my interests extend only to great literature, popular novels and old comics… a small hardback of Roberts Rules of Order (Scott, Foresman and Company), An American Heritage Guide: Historical Houses of America from 1971, The Audubon Book of True Nature Stories from 1958, Hooray for Peace, Hurrah for War: The United States During World War I (photos, songs and personal accounts from the period), a Bantam Classics edition of The Federalist Papers, Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss (Gotham Books) and Favorite Subjects in Western Art by A.L. Todd and Dorothy B. Weisbord (E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.). Okay; so that last one was lit-related.

A couple of others to round out my collection: God’s Plan to Protect His People in the Coming Depression, written by David Wilkerson in 1998. Mr. Wilkerson is best known as the author of the autobiographical The Cross and the Switchblade, but has also written books of a prophetic nature. And a 1961 Dolphin Books collection of Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke and The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine.

Now comes the hard part: finding space for all these books on my already burdened shelves.

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