News and commentary on books and writers

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I have to admit I was very lucky growing up to have a little sister who was pretty bearable (at least most of the time). However I definitely could have used a personal assistant.

I wish that THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK: JUNIOR EDITION had been around when I was a teen! 

Check out this fabulous You Tube Video and you too will know why.

What teenage woe do you wish would be included in the next THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK: JUNIOR EDITION?

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Ben Watts, the photographer behind LICKSHOT: A PHOTO SCRAPBOOK (one of the hidden hipster gems of the fall 2009 season in my opinion!), interviewed by the New York Times fashion blog The Moment:

Before we were celebrities—or before we are anything—we are people. We have character or we develop character—we are a character. Each and everyone of us is and I like to think that comes off in photographs regardless of whether that person is a celebrity or not. Everybody’s on equal footing in this journal. To me, I put them in my book because I found the image striking. And it’s because of their personality and who they are rather than sort of what they’ve achieved as far as their celebrity pecking order.

And if you like the sound of LICKSHOT, you might also want to check out Ben’s previous (equally awesome) book BIG UP.


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OK, so I’ve closed our classic typeface poll and we have ties for the first place typefaces: Caslon and Garamond are your top choices for serif typefaces; Gill Sans and Helvetica are your top choices for san serifs.

Thanks to everyone who voted - good choices!


The bumper TYPEFACE: CLASSIC TYPOGRAPHY FOR CONTEMPORARY DESIGN by Tamye Riggs (published by PAPress) which provided the lists of typefaces for the polls is available now.

We also have some other really interesting new typography and graphic design books:

LETTERING AND TYPE: CREATING LETTERS AND DESIGNING TYPEFACES by Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals is a useful how-to book full of relevant theory, history, explanatory diagrams, and exercises.

1000 FONTS: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO FINDING THE RIGHT TYPEFACE by Graham Davis, Robin Dodd and Keith Martin is a handy little book displaying the entire alphabet and numerals for 1000 unique typefaces, making it easy to find the perfect one for your project.

GRAPHIC DESIGN A USER’S MANUAL by Adrian Shaughnessy (with a foreword by Michael Bierut, author of the awesome 79 SHORT ESSAYS ON DESIGN) is an insider’s guide to the complexities of current graphic design practice and thinking.

And if you’re not a graphic designer, but you need to do some design, this might just be the book for you:

GRAPHIC DESIGN FOR NONDESIGNERS by Tony Seddon and Jane Waterhouse, illustrated by Rick Landers, has 20 step-by-step projects for designing everything from websites to business cards to T-shirts, each accompanied by a clear and concise explanation of the basic principles of graphic design—including the effective use of space, color, and type.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finally! Annie Barrows’ sixth Ivy + Bean, IVY AND BEAN: DOOMED DANCE, has been released!

After begging their parents for ballet lessons, Ivy and Bean finally get what they want ... well, not exactly.

Much to their surprise, it turns out ballet doesn’t include karate chops and roundhouse kicks! The girls have no interest in learning how to dance gracefully, but they promised their parents they would finish the entire ballet course! So when it comes time for Ivy and Bean to participate in the ocean-themed class recital, the girls must figure out a way to get out of it without breaking their promises…

And it’s not just us that loves Ivy + Bean: Teachers and students do to!

Also Available:

IVY AND BEAN BOUND TO BAD (new in paperback)



Click here for Chronicle Books’ Ivy + Bean mini-site

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Friday, October 09, 2009

imageNeed something for the kids to do while you’re busy cooking turkey this weekend?

Chronicle Books have posted a free craft project on their blog, excerpted from ARTFUL JEWELRY by Jo Packham.

The book offers 11 jewelry projects inspired by famous works of art: earrings that capture the soft Spring colors of Botticelli’s La Primavera, a necklace celebrating the swirly sky of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and teardrop pearl earrings straight out of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. The kit even includes materials - beads, embroidery floss, earring posts, and more - to make 6 of the projects straight away.

Visit the Chronicle Books blog to download instructions and print-ready templates to make Bewitching Beaded Necklace, was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, which he painted around 1490 when “long, ropy strands of pearls, stones, or beads were very much in vogue.”


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Thursday, October 08, 2009

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, John Anderson author of STAND BY HER: A BREAST CANCER GUIDE FOR MEN and his beautiful wife, breast cancer survivor, Sharon Rapoport were interviewed on The Today Show by Meredith Vieira.

John’s mother, wife, sister and a close family friend all had breast cancer. Unable to find a good source for men on how to help the women in his life battle this horrible disease, John decided to write the book himself.

A few of his tips he discussed in the interview are:

-Follow don’t lead: Men like to take charge of things in their lives. This is her journey. You need to follow her lead.

-Show your love: During this difficult battle more than ever she needs to feel and see your devotion.

-Set up a good support system:  Not just for her but also for yourself. You will need people that you can talk to about your fears.

-Take a cancer leave: Cancer overtakes people’s lives. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and have a minute, an hour or even a day that is cancer free.

Here is the full interview:

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Are you looking for fun and inspiring Thanksgiving dinner ideas? Then take a wander down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of Diane Morgan’s newest book THE NEW THANKSGIVING TABLE.

Here’s one of the many yummy recipes found in her book. This one is for Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Try it out. You won’t be disappointed!

Softened butter for greasing cake pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
1 cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1/3 cup dried currants

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper. Sprinkle the pans with flour, tap the pans to evenly distribute the flour, and then shake off the excess flour. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and vanilla. In another medium bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, coconut, crushed pineapple, and currants.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading it evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely before frosting the cakes. image

To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin purée and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or platter. Using an offset spatula, spread half of the frosting over the top of the first cake layer. Spread the frosting right to the edge of the top without frosting the sides of the cake. Carefully place the second cake on top, lining up the edges. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake without frosting the sides. Swirl the frosting to decorate the top. Refrigerate the cake to set the frosting. Remove from the refrigerator 30 to 40 minutes before serving.

Serves 12

                Looks yummy doesn’t it?!?! Try it yourself.

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Posted by Danielle @ 12:21 PM · (0) Comments · Tell a Friend

I am a huge fan of Andrew Zuckerman. I think his photography is breathtaking, cutting edge and unlike anything else out there. I have shared the beautiful animal photos in CREATURE ABC with my 13 month old daughter and I can’t wait until she is old enough to play with the CREATURE FLOOR PUZZLES . I had never considered sharing his coffee table books with her. Well Strollerderby did!

Strollerderby (The Mother Of All Parenting Blogs) recently named BIRD by Andrew Zuckerman as their Book Of The Week.

She said:

First I should point out that this ain’t no board book. For that matter, you shouldn’t let your kids grimy hands anywhere near it.  But they can look with just their eyes, just make sure not to let them get their marks on the pristine white pages of this magnificent tome to birds in the aptly named book Bird.

I loved how she described her daughter’s reaction to the book:

My 3 ¾ (FYI - that ¾ is very important) and I looked at each and every page and she was completely entranced by the images of her new feathered friends. She blurted out comments about the birds such as “He’s fancy!”, “His beak looks like a spoon”, “She’s doing ballet class”, and “He’s conducting”. Interesting observations from a child’s perspective. Then she proceeded to act out what the birds were doing in each photo, complete with sound effects. Her Southern Ground Hornbill impression was impassioned and just a little scary.

For the full review please visit the Strollerderby Blog. Strollerderby’s review made me reconsider the materials that I will share with my daughter in the future and I thank her for that. There is a whole world of books that we can share with our children in addition to what is in the children’s department.

One series that my daughter loves (that would go very nicely with BIRD) are the BIRD SONG BOOKS. My daughter loves to push the buttons on the BIRD SONGS WALL CALENDARS and hear the calls that each bird makes. The 2010 BIRD SONG WALL CALENDAR would make a great addition to any toddler’s (or grownup’s) wall.

What grownup books do your little ones love?

Lastly, in case you missed it here are the videos of the making of BIRD.

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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS author Ben Winters recently had a brief chat about the new Quirk Classic on NPR’s Morning Edition:

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

This morning on my way to work, I walked by about a dozen people, scattered along the sidewalk, who were holding handwritten cardboard signs. They said things like “I have a home”, “I was warm and dry last night” and “I have a people who support me”. It’s all part of Gratitude Week, an effort to end homelessness in Vancouver.

imageThe campaign is well-timed, with Thanksgiving coming up this weekend. Just this morning, in fact, I was thinking about what Thanksgiving books I might blog about this week—and the first one that came to mind (yes, even before the mouthwatering Thanksgiving cookbooks!) was Chronicle Books’ Gratitude Journal. It’s a place to keep a daily record of life’s little blessings; the small things that are so easy to take for granted—but really are so very important and meaningful. Here’s an explanation on about how to keep a gratitude journal. It seems like a great way to take the time to really appreciate what you have—and also to reflect on what others may not.

In that spirit, please visit the Gratitude Week website to learn more or to get involved.

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Posted by Siobhan @ 10:11 AM · (0) Comments · Tell a Friend


“Porcellino is a master at miniature poignance.” —Entertainment Weekly

If you’re in Montreal or Toronto over the next couple of days, stop in to see John Porcellino!

John Porcellino is the creator of the King Cat Comics, which he started self-publishing back in 1989. His new book, MAP OF MY HEART, is a celebration of King Cat’s 20th anniversary.

Tues. Oct. 6, 2009 at 7pm - Montreal, Quebec
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
211 Rue Bernard Ouest, Montreal, QC H2T 2K5, (514) 279-2221

Weds. Oct. 7, 2009 at 7pm - Toronto, Ontario
The Beguiling
601 Markham Street, Toronto, ON, M6G 2L7, (416) 533-9168

John Porcellino continues his tour in the US: for full listings see the Drawn & Quarterly events page.

Here’s a short preview of MAP OF MY HEART (PDF).

Also check out the King Cat Comics website and become a fan on Facebook.

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Monday, October 05, 2009


“Marc Bell is a riddle wrapped in a conundrum further wrapped in salty bacon.”
(LA Weekly)

Drawn & Quarterly invites you to come out to say hello to Canada’s most beloved hoser artist!

Mark Bell will be on tour to launch his new book, HOT POTATOE: Fine Ahtwerks: 2001-2008.

10/15, 6-8pm > Adam Baumgold Gallery, New York, NY
10/17-18 > APE, San Francisco, CA
10/19, 7-10pm > Lucky’s, Vancouver, BC
10/21, 8-10pm > Family, Los Angeles, CA
10/25, 5-7pm > Desert Island, Brooklyn, NY
11/20, 7-9pm > Magic Pony, Toronto, ON
11/27, 7-9pm > Librairie D+Q Bookstore, Montreal, QC

Get all the details on Drawn & Quarterly’s blog.

You can check out some interior spreads from the book over on My Love for You is a Stampede of Horses and keep up with Marc Bell on his blog.

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Monday, September 28, 2009


Are you excited for the new episode of Top Chef tonight? I am. I just started watching this season - and now I’m hooked.

Of course I am a few season behind, so have a little catching up to do…  I also have a lot of catching up to do in the kitchen, too.

Following up on their TOP CHEF COOKBOOK, Chronicle Books will be publishing a new Top Chef cookbook this Fall, TOP CHEF: THE QUICKFIRE COOKBOOK.

Compiled by the creators of the show, TOP CHEF: THE QUICKFIRE COOKBOOK draws from the first five seasons of the show to feature 75 of the best recipes—from Spike’s Pizza alla Greek to Stephanie’s Bittersweet Chocolate Cake—culled from the Top Chef Quickfire Challenges. The book’s also packed with mouth-watering photos, plus interviews with contestants and fun trivia related to the chefs and their dishes.

And when things get too heated in the kitchen, you can unwind by playing the TOP CHEF QUICKFIRE CHALLENGE GAME, coming in December. Answer questions such as “What part of the pig does ham come from—the belly, the hind leg, or the back?”, and “Which Top Chef judge earned three Michelin stars by the age of 26?” posted a few recipes from the new book, TOP CHEF: THE QUICKFIRE COOKBOOK:

imageOprah also posted recipes from TOP CHEF: THE COOKBOOK:

Still hungry?

There are a couple more recipes over on the Chronicle blog:

Tune in to watch Top Chef on Food Network Canada and Bravo TV.


UPDATE: Also check out Publishers Weekly’s Recipe Report for a splash of Carla’s Cranberry-Ginger Spritzer.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

I was just reading the latest Chronicle Books Art & Design e-Newsletter (sign up here) and had to share this part about how the PICTORIAL WEBSTER’S book came to be:

“In the summer of 1995, while poking around my grandmother’s stone farmhouse, I found a tattered 1898 Webster’s International Dictionary under my grandfather’s favorite reading chair. The disintegrating sheepskin covers were detached and a number of browned and brittle sections were falling out from the back of the book. The loose pages revealed an eighty-page section devoted entirely to the illustrations of the dictionary: a stunning array of odd and wonderful animals and machines printed by categories. The fantastic variety of subjects was matched only by the detail and variety of engraving techniques.”

So begins the story of John Carrera’s quest to bring these nineteenth-century illustrations back to life. The fine-press bookmaker combed and catalogued Merriam-Webster’s archive of more than 10,000 engravings housed at Yale University and over a decade later created Pictorial Webster’s, a visual compendium of 4,000 images reproduced in stunning detail.

In 2007 Carrera published a hand-bound, letterpress limited edition of the book through Quercus Press, documented in this incredible making-of video.

That video is a must-see for bibliophiles and letterpress enthusiasts. It’s such an amazing story… I can’t believe how much work went into carving and casting all the images and type, printing the pages on a letterpress, and binding the original books. The results are certainly worth all the time and effort - the finished book is a thing of beauty and obviously a labour of much love.

I guess that’s why Apartment Therapy freaked out when they first saw it.

You can become a fan of PICTORIAL WEBSTER’S on Facebook.


In the series…




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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The phone has been ringing off the hook with press inquiries about the the new book MANAGING by Henry Mintzberg. It’s no wonder with the global economic crisis that is weighing so heavily on everyone’s mind.

From the Toronto Star:

The outspoken professor reckons the country has been brought to its knees by decades of short-term management on Wall Street and the likes of Nortel and GM, which inflated the importance of CEOs and reduced others to a replaceable commodity.

“The banks and other U.S. corporations were managed by egocentrics who ran companies into the ground. Human resources are downsized at the drop of a share price. What a monumental failure of management.”

From Canadian Business Magazine:

Mintzberg’s latest book, Managing, published this month, just a day before his 70th birthday, promises to be as divisive as ever. It argues that companies are over-led and under-managed; it calls for the elimination of leadership as a separate discipline since good leadership is part of good management; and it says middle managers should help hire top execs. It was a failure to grasp some of these fundamentals that helped trigger the global banking crisis. “How could anyone buy those mortgages? That stuff was obviously junk,” he says. As such, the path to economic recovery won’t be achieved through top-down or bottom-up management strategies, but by middle managers—the very level that has long been gutted by companies struggling to cut costs.

Why are good managers so hard to find? Anyone learning to be a manager should start with this book. From the Globe and Mail:

Managing is sprawling, complicated, contradictory stuff, and Prof. Mintzberg, to his credit, approaches it in that manner. If you’re looking for quick, easy answers, don’t look here. He has spent a decade ruminating over those 29 days he spent following managers, and delights in sharing his thoughts with those who like him admire managers and want some clues - but understand they will never get certainty - on how to do it better. This will be an important textbook in classrooms bringing together not only his own research and thoughts but also weaving in a century of writings by others. It will also reassure individual managers that what they do is important and not easy, and no doubt provoke some changes in their thinking.

So what does it take to be a good manager?

Should we do away with all email?

Has management changed at all in the last 100 years?

What variety of manager are you?

Watch this interview from Karl Moore at The Globe and Mail online where these questions are posed.

MANAGING is just that… managing—pure if not simple. It is the essence of managing. This book is a must read for anyone taking on a management role in life.


Image courtesy of

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