Comics, Life, Common Sense, and Maybe Some Wisdom
June 26, 2011

I’ve never outgrown comics, though my tastes have changed over the years. Currently, I am down to six. Three are silly guilts, but the other three—Doonesbury, Sally Forth, and Bo’s Café Life—are genuine pleasures that start the computerized portion of my day off just right.

The latter, Bo’s Café Life, is particularly interesting as it focuses on the unpublished writers’ life. In a café. Every day. The three characters—Bo, Dingbang, and Bella—are desperate to be published. And they talk about it over their coffee cups, which is all that is ever seen of them.

Wayne Pollard, the creator of the strip, recently contacted me to ask if I would be willing to be part of his new regular series in which he has people in the book industry make an appearance. I quickly agreed. A few days later the questions showed up in my in-box.

My “special appearance” will take place on Monday, June 27 (the day after writing this). Even though you’ll see nothing of me except some sort of coffee mug—what will mine look like?—I am nervous. It’s a public appearance of sorts, but wholly my words. Please check us out.

Upcoming Book Festivals and Fairs:
Unfortunately, there are no fairs or festivals coming up this week or next weekend.

The Pub House:
Featherproof Books is a young independent Chicago publisher that is “dedicated to the small-press ideals of finding fresh, urban voices” in “full-length works of fiction and downloadable mini-books.” The latter are free and come with instructions on how to make the printed PDFs into an origami mini-book. Among their full-length books are This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record by Susannah Felts, the story of  two teens who meet and forge a volatile alliance over one of Nashville’s neglected parks. But that alliance dissolves amid questions about identity, class in the New South, and other coming-of-age issues. The Universe in Miniature by Patrick Somerville is a set of loosely connected speculative and science fiction stories revolving around “The Machine of Understanding Other People,” a supernatural helmet bequeathed to a Chicago man. This helmet allows him to peer into the minds of those around him including an art student, idiot extraterrestrials, a retired mercenary, and more. Grow: An Environmentally Friendly Book by Alyson Beaton and K.J. Bradley is designed for children 2-5 years of age. It takes them through a typical day that routinely incorporates environmentally and socially sound practices that will ultimately benefit the child and her world.

Imaging Books & Reading:
This image accompanies an article in Futurity magazine, which talks about the ability of font choices for written material can impact the long-term learning and retention of information presented to students. The theory is based on the concept of disfluency, which occurs when something feels hard, leads people to process information more deeply. Therefore, students would concentrate more carefully on the material, though some of course would just give up. The authors of the study caution that more research is needed, but as one noted, be “a no-cost policy fix that could really improve students’ learning.”

Of Interest:
Bookplates are small prints designed for pasting inside the covers of books to designate ownership. Anyone can buy modern mass-produced or even handcrafted ones, but antique ones that were specially commissioned are spectacular. In The Art of Bookplates—in Pictures, you can see nineteen of them in incredible detail, miniature works of art that actually enhance the books in which they reside.

Until next week, read well, read often and read on!




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