Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Parisology n. The deliberate pursuits of ambiguity in one’s use of language.

A true Renaissance man, Ben Franklin was an expert in the field of Parisology.
Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Parisology appears in the First.

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Intern's Observations

by Katie Turnbloom

Frances Hodgson Burnett's observant robin-on-the-wall
in The Secret Garden
A while back, one of my supervisors joked with me, saying that I’ve had the opportunity to be a “fly on the wall… but an interactive fly!” (or Ben Weatherstaff's robin redbreast on the wall, if we're looking at Godine's edition of Burnett's The Secret Garden) with all of the meetings and out-of-office experiences I’ve been able to observe. And it’s true, in my time as an intern here at David R. Godine, Publisher, I’ve had the privilege of meeting people who occupy all ends of the literary world, the ends that stretch beyond the walls of our tiny Boston office, across the country, and towards bookshelves around the world: from buyers to authors and illustrators (and those aspiring to become such), curators, librarians, bloggers, reviewers, academics, ever-devoted interns, and amazing warehouse workers.

I’ve met and spoken with a vast group of people who encourage a book to thrive, from the very beginning when in the diligent hands of those in the publishing house, to the brave literary patriots (the librarians, buyers, reviewers, sellers, and so many others) who encourage the texts into the hands of loyal readers. Each profession takes on a different role in the life of a book; each is responsible, in myriad ways, for the birth of the book, the growth, the nourishment that allows a text to thrive and, in a best-case scenario, become timeless.

Despite their different responsibilities in the literary world, they intertwine on multiple levels, each being a significant link in the literary chain that connects reader and text. Yes, the business side is important – we have families to provide for, student loans to pay, new books to buy – but in my experiences speaking with the literary enthusiasts we work with here at Godine, the emphasis is still on the book.

One children’s book author expressed her concerns over lunch with David and I one afternoon about how her characters and settings would best capture the essence of the peoples and environments they are meant to emulate and how the visual text, or the illustrations, would effectively narrate the cultural atmosphere in her most recent manuscript. To this David replied that, of course, only an artist who knows the setting and has experienced the culture should be illustrating this particular text; the artist must not just have a vision, but also a relationship with the characters and setting.

Other raised concerns interrogate how books relate to people, where the humanity is in them, what these books actually say. Of utmost importance, too, here at Godine will always be, as it has been for over forty years, the quality of the physical book; Godine readers have come to expect great narratives (cloth)wrapped and (foil)stamped in the highest quality of production materials. On the two sales calls I’ve sat in on, Morgan, our sales manager, only has to let the buyer hold the book and flip through its pages to prove that book needs to be on their shelves. Godine is committed to quality – and our readers know quality.

The people we work with here in our Boston office, our Jaffrey warehouse, and expansively beyond our walls are book people. And at the end of the day it is our relationship with books that keep the gears churning and chain strong: between author/illustrator and their texts; texts and readers; and readers with, and as, librarians, teachers, bloggers, reviewers, theorists, curators, buyers, and, of course, other readers. After all, what good would it do striving to fulfill a motto as strong as “Books that matter, for people who care” without arming ourselves with anyone but those who are most devoted to literary quality for the sake of both the book and, of course, the reader?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Touch Signature n. A dactylogram, i.e., a fingerprint.

A young researcher carefully prepares a colorful touch signature for analysis.
Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Touch signature appears in the Superior Person's Field Guide.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Childhood Adventures

by Ross Wagenhofer

I recently read Winter Holiday, the fourth book in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series. Ransome is the sort of author who is able to capture the imagination of childhood and put in on the page without needing to declare this is a children’s story. In Winter Holiday, a troupe of kids plan and carry out an expedition to the “north pole.” Only in Ransome’s words, it isn’t the “north pole” but the North Pole, quotation marks absent.

I dearly wish I had read these books when I was much younger. Winter Holiday made me nostalgic for a childhood I had all but forgotten about: the large-scale adventure played out in the mind, the thrill that came with simple occurrences and new places, and the unique comradery of others who helped to construct and share, as if psychically, an imaginative world. Reading Ransome’s book made me remember the trips to the “volcano” down the street in suburban Iowa, or the construction of new “homes” out of left-behind construction palates and broken boards.  I remember now when the exploration of the woods behind my grandparent’s home in small-town Iowa was as important a quest as the search for El Dorado through the rainforest, each discarded old tire and tossed aside milk carton another path marker on our way deeper into the unknown wilderness.

Message at Cache Island (from the book)
Reading Winter Holiday as a kid would have been like reading a guidebook. I would have found inspiration in the notion of planning a wintertime trip to the North Pole, may have perhaps rounded my friends together and organized a trip to our own North Pole. I would have also been delighted by Ransome’s style of writing and storytelling. My early childhood reading habits was marked more by volume than by genre or type of book. After picture books I moved straight to things like Harry Potter and Redwall, eating up voraciously these series each made up of lengthy volumes. I wasn’t satiated by shorter books and flimsy adventures; I wanted full-on novels that told complete and engrossing stories.

There’s a large audience of kids who are rabid about reading longer books. The Swallows and Amazons series would have appealed to me, and kids like me, greatly. Even as an adult I find them fun reads with a very charming and likeable cast of characters.

What kinds of adventures did you have as a kid growing up? Did you visit any far off places as well? Drop us a comment below or share a tweet with us at @GodinePub! You can find the entire Swallows and Amazons series on our website, and even a biography of the series' author, Arthur Ransome. Winter Holiday is in the process of being reprinted, but in the meantime you can purchase it as an ebook on Google Play.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

March News and Review Round Up

Here at David R. Godine, Publisher, we strive to produce high quality books above all else. So, when our books and authors are praised, we hope you'll forgive us for acting like proud parents. Please join us in celebrating the recent success of a few of our talented authors.

First and foremost, we are honored to announce Joe McKendry's One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World as a winner of a New York City Book Award for 2012.

For a firsthand look at his beautiful illustrations, find One Times Square on our website.

This past March there were also a host of positive reviews of Godine's books. Photo Life magazine praises not only the formal beauty of the photographs in Karsh: Beyond the Camera but also the book's illuminating content:
. . . this book features many of his beautiful black-and-white photographs. In addition to that, Karsh: Beyond the Camera includes the background stories of the portrait session when the images were taken. This enjoyable text provides insight into how Karsh so successfully connected with his subjects and established a high degree of trust through his "gift for interpersonal exchange and an inquisitive temperament."
There was also a review of Karsh: Beyond the Camera in The Antioch Review, which concurs on the power of the commentary, both from the photographer himself as well as from photo curator David Travis. Travis "places the image in a historical context, but also has the ability to articulate what is special in a photograph and what was involved in getting the image," and his reflections slow the experience of looking at the portraits to thus allow them to speak more forcefully.

We were pleased to celebrate the beauty of Karsh on March 27th in an event at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, put on by the Canadian Consulate. It was a great event, filled with stories about the famous photographer from those who knew him best, including his widow, Estrellita Karsh, and long-time assistant Jerry Fielder.

Estrellita Karsh and David Travis, editor of Karsh: Beyond the Camera.

To learn more, you can purchase Karsh: Beyond the Camera on our website.

Connecticut Today delves into the history of Adam Van Doren's artistic career and shares some of his insights behind the illustrations for An Artist in Venice:
"I saw the buildings as works of art unto themselves and was less interested in their technical aspects," says Van Doren . . ."Venice is conducive to the experience of painting," he says. "It's meditative, with unusual light at all times of the day. There are no tall buildings so you have unobstructed panoramas. You can disappear in time, with no reminders of modernity except tourists."
Read the full article for more of Van Doren's thoughts and past experiences. The book can be found here.

Barbara Paul Robinson continues to be applauded for her brilliant biography Rosemary Verey: The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener. The gardening publication Historic Gardens Review contrasts the pristine picture of Verey painted by another book with the "darker side of Verey" that Robinson describes. The review goes on to say that:
Robinson's crisp narrative emphasizes that in spite of the showbiz element (Elton John was one high-profile client) Verey's work should not be forgotten and was underpinned by considerable scholarship.
Find Rosemary Verey: The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener on our website, and take a look a the homepage of Godine's website for many more new and noteworthy selections!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Ustulate a. Scorched. The Superior Person’s word for sunburned.

It's the sure sign of a bad day when you have ustulate toast for breakfast.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Ustulate appears in the First.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Look at Little Free Libraries

by Jodi Bosin

I discovered my first Little Free Library this past summer in my hometown of Philadelphia, on an undisturbed Old City street filled with quiet stores and restaurant suppliers. The freestanding construction on the sidewalk looked like a large birdhouse on a wooden pole. It was filled with books and inscribed with the words “Take a book, leave a book." I was in awe of this small and wonderful structure. Naturally, I returned the next day to engage immediately in its instructions.

Todd Bol's original Little Free Library
in Hudson, Wisconsin
The phenomenon of the Little Free Library began with Todd Bol's beautiful tribute to his bibliophile mother. Three years ago the Hudson, Wisconsin, native put up a miniature schoolhouse on a post outside his home and filled it with books to be borrowed. A few friends followed suit, and today there are thousands of miniature libraries in over thirty countries across the globe.

The Little Free Library movement is now a nonprofit run out of Wisconsin by Bol and his friend Rick Brooks. Their website offers the chance to register a Little Free Library for a small fee and purchase a pre-built model (although creating a library from scratch is always encouraged). Registration offers the chance to be listed on the Little Free Library Map of the World and receive special offers and updates from the organization.

Cambridge's Little Free Library
run by Roberts and Belove
When I returned to Boston, I instantly sought out all the Little Free Libraries in the area (as you may have already done sometime around the last paragraph), and it turns out that we have a few of these small sanctuaries right here in our city. Laura Roberts and Ed Belove are the stewards of the Little Free Library at 1715 Cambridge Street, and the anonymously created library in Jamaica Plain stands at the corner of South and Bardwell. Jan Gardner writes about the Cambridge edition in the Boston Globe:

Roberts has reported to her what she sees from her window. “People are stocking it. People are stopping and talking and taking pictures,” she said. She and her husband supplied the first few piles of books but now others are making donations. On a recent day, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway stood next to “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris...Roberts and Belove are longtime members of Friends of the Cambridge Public Library. The opening of their own little library is no commentary on its grander relation. “Libraries big and small,” Roberts said. “We love them all."

The full article can be found here.

One might ask, won't the books be stolen, or the libraries vandalized? These things can happen, but a world filled with Little Free Libraries is a world of hope and hungry readers. With Spring coming upon us, it is the perfect time for a pilgrimage to these small treasure troves. Just remember to bring an unwanted book that needs a home.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Nostrificate v. To accept as one’s own. “Don’t lean too far over the edge of the monkey pit, children; they are all too likely to nostrificate you."

Nostrification at its cutest.*

*If you like cute pictures of inter-species friendships, you're in luck – the Internet is loaded with them.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Nostrificate appears in the Second.

Monday, April 1, 2013

World Book Night 2013

World Book Night is celebrated around the world on April 23. The purpose of this worldwide event is to encourage more adults to read. In 2012, almost 80,000 people distributed over 2.5 million books in four different countries.

A report by The National Endowment for the Arts, Reading At Risk: A Survey of Literacy Reading in America states that:

For the first time in modern history, less than half of the adult population now reads literature…While oral culture has a rich immediacy that is not to be dismissed, and electronic media offer the considerable advantages of diversity and access, print culture affords irreplaceable forms of focused attention and contemplation that make complex communications and insights possible. To lose such intellectual capability – and the many sorts of human continuity it allows – would constitute a vast cultural impoverishment.

The report also found that reading improves employability, social interactions, mental health, and happiness. It is with this in mind that World Book Night U.S. strives to help non-readers by inspiring them to read.

This year, an independent panel of booksellers and librarians selected 30 books that include classics like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Willa Cather’s My Antonia, as well as modern bestsellers such as David Benioff’s City of Thieves and David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day. The authors of the chosen books generously agreed to waive royalties, and their publishers agreed to pay the cost of producing the special editions for the event.

Volunteers around the country can apply to be book givers and are chosen based on their ability to reach light and non-readers effectively. It is an amazing opportunity for book enthusiasts to share their passion for reading with those who do not read or do not have proper access to books.

The entire book community comes together for one night each year to promote literacy. While book giver applications are closed for 2013, you can visit the World Book Night website to find out how to become a part of this inspiring movement in the future.