Steven Soderbergh: Seen, Read 2016

All the movies, TV shows, books, and plays Steven Soderbergh saw and read in 2016.

I love this. I’ve been logging books and movies for most of this century, and it’s fun and humbling to look back at the list from time to time. I’ll need to live a very long time to get through all of the stuff I’d like to. Plus, it answers the occasional question, like “Did I read that?,” or “When was the last time I read/saw that?”

01.08.2017Tagged with:    

The End of Borders and the Future of Books

Bad timing and poor management killed Borders, not a lack of interest in physical books.

When Borders declared bankruptcy in February, more than 200 of its 400 outlets were still “highly profitable,” says its final chief executive officer, Mike Edwards. There’s no question that the book industry is in flux, with digital sales last year making up about $900 million of the $28 billion-a-year market and increasing fast. But a sizable portion of the book business is still taking place in actual stores.

11.13.2011Tagged with:    

Mark Twain’s Autobiography

For the last decade of his life, Mark Twain was at work on his personal memoirs, but he left handwritten notes expressing his wish that they not be published until a century after his death. There is some debate as to why the author wanted to let so much time pass.

“He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. He’s also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there.”

In other sections of the autobiography, Twain makes cruel observations about his supposed friends, acquaintances and one of his landladies.

Twain died in 1910, so whatever the reason Twain had for the delay, his complete autobiography is finally going to be published. The University of California, Berkeley, will publish the work in three volumes, the first of which will be released in November.

06.02.2010Tagged with:    


A subject near and dear to my heart. Portable? No. Beautiful? Yes.

I love the look of statement bookshelves. You know….ones that go wall to wall, floor to ceiling, over doors, around windows. And if there’s a big tall ladder involved that’s even better!

Agreed. It’s one of the (many) reasons I’m not a fan of digital books: you don’t need bookshelves.

05.24.2010Tagged with:    

Jacket + Bookmark

Jacket and Bookmark by Igor Udushlivy

Created by designer Igor Udushlivy, these playful dust jackets and bookmarks work in tandem to give the book a unique look that breaks the normal plane of the cover.

01.28.2010Tagged with:    

Dissertations on His Dudeness

The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies is a collection of essays on Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 movie The Big Lebowski.

As a new generation of “Lebowski” fans emerges, Dude Studies may linger for a while. In another of this book’s essays, “Professor Dude: An Inquiry Into the Appeal of His Dudeness for Contemporary College Students,” a bearded, longhaired and rather Dude-like associate professor of English at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., named Richard Gaughran asks this question about his students: “What is it that they see in the Dude that they find so desirable?”

One of Mr. Gaughran’s students came up with this summary, and it’s somehow appropriate for an end-of-the-year reckoning: “He doesn’t stand for what everybody thinks he should stand for, but he has his values. He just does it. He lives in a very disjointed society, but he’s gonna take things as they come, he’s gonna care about his friends, he’s gonna go to somebody’s recital, and that’s it. That’s how you respond.”

12.30.2009Tagged with:    

When Bad Covers Happen to Good Books

Ever thought a book was too ugly to read? Joe Queenan found that he couldn’t get through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a book he knew to be a masterpiece, and one he had read before. What was the problem? The packaging.

Every time I picked up the book, my eyes were lured back to those fulsome photos of Sugarplum Huck. I do not know what Huck looked like as Twain imagined him, any more than I know how F. Scott Fitzgerald envisioned Jay Gatsby. But Gatsby cannot look like Robert Redford, and the most memorable character in American fiction cannot look like the diabolically cuddly Elijah Wood. Cannot, cannot, cannot.

I’ve had my share of books like that over the years. I’ve always felt a little silly about it, but at least I’m not alone.

It works the other way, too: I recently bought an edition of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights just because I liked the cover so much. In my defense, it is a classic and no different than taking a chance on any other book you haven’t read. And, as it turns out, it comes from a collection of deluxe classics from Penguin which includes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

12.08.2009Tagged with:    

Going West

Beautiful animated film from the NZ Book Council to promote reading and the love of books.

(via boing boing)

11.23.2009Tagged with:    

Manhood for Amateurs

Michael Chabon’s new book is out. It’s a collection of personal essays exploring, among other things, parenting and what it means to be a man.

What is the impact of the closing down of the Wilderness on the development of children’s imaginations? This is what I worry about the most. I grew up with a freedom, a liberty that now seems breathtaking and almost impossible. Recently, my younger daughter, after the usual struggle and exhilaration, learned to ride her bicycle. Her joy at her achievement was rapidly followed by a creeping sense of puzzlement and disappointment as it became clear to both of us that there was nowhere for her to ride it—nowhere that I was willing to let her go.

There is an excerpt over at The New York Review of Books.

10.29.2009Tagged with: