August 13, 2014


This wobbly-looking bookcase is Quake. Designed by Antoine Phelouzat for Eno Studio, it's a modular, stackable shelf system made of sturdy wooden planks and asymmetrical metal cubes. The result is minimalist, ubermodern shelving that looks like nothing else out there — and would be a deathtrap for clumsy people like me.

The cubes are iron — in chrome, white, or black — and you can choose from beech, oak, or walnut for the shelves.
Materials: iron, wood
Measurements: 166cm x 30cm x 130cm
Money: 790€–1780€

You can ogle more photos of the Quake here.

August 12, 2014


The London Review of Books is Britain's most esteemed literary magazine. Published fortnightly, it features essays, reviews and the most outrageous personal ads ever set in type. The following is a selection from the latest issue.

*Marilyn seeks Arthur Miller. Sweet-natured blonde F (28, London) WLTM confident, witty, warm and single older M (45+, ideally) for something special.

*Determined passionate generous married man, mid-50s, seeks thoughtful female reader/writer for mutual appreciation and exploration between the covers.

August 11, 2014


Meet the new 50th anniversary cover of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. No, it's not a joke. And no, someone didn't accidentally switch it with the design for Lolita.

Penguin Books says:

"This new image for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY looks at the children at the centre of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life, ready for Charlie’s debut amongst the adult titles in the Penguin Modern Classics series."

I say: WTF, Penguin? Remove the copy from the cover, and the image does nothing to shine light on the story within. A popular theory was that the cover depicted Violet Beauregarde or Veruca Salt, but Penguin says this isn't the case — making the selection even more bewildering.

Judging from the media storm and comments on Penguin's Facebook and Twitter, most readers aren't fans, although a small minority are defending the publisher.

"I don't think that adults will be saying 'oh look, I've never read that and that new slightly creepy cover is just what I was looking for to read on the train.'"

"This looks like an escapee from some weird children's beauty pageant."

"Maybe Terry Richardson can do James and the Giant Peach next."

"Who can forget that memorable scene in the Chocolate Factory where Charlie stumbles upon Wonka's creepy collection of Oompa Loompa-sized Real Dolls?"

Penguin is standing its ground and says the cover was approved by the Roald Dahl Literary Estate, so it looks like the new edition will still make it onto shelves next month. Whether it will sell is another story.

April 24, 2014


Some of these are photographs of real places, some are imaginary. But all are beautiful. I'd love to know the titles of these forgotten books — are they formerly loved classics? Outdated encyclopedias? Trashy romance novels? We'll never know, and that's part of their mystique.

April 08, 2014


This room is 587 years old. It's where a young William Shakespeare learned Latin and Greek, and even though that was almost 450 years ago, the room looks today exactly as it did then. Surprisingly, for such a culturally significant location, it isn't open to the public — although that may be about to change. 

April 01, 2014


                   { A SARAH GORR REVIEW }

In Ava Dellaira’s Love Letters to the Dead, Laurel is 14 years old, entering high school, and dealing with the sudden loss of her older sister, May. Given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person, and, unsure who else to turn to, Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain. Before long, she’s filled her notebook with letters to people who aren’t here anymore-—and who went too soon. As she goes through freshman year without her sister, Laurel regularly writes to Kurt, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Judy Garland, and others, seeking to make sense of her splintering family, her first love, and her own grief.

On the face of it, I can imagine myself loving this book at 13 or 14. When I was a kid, and into my teens and even college years, my literature of choice always had a dark streak. I never went for comedies. I never picked up romance. Never read a Baby-sitters Club or a Sweet Valley High. If it wasn’t Harry Potter, it was dark (and even Potter got a bit bleak toward the end). I read books about skinheads (Skin Deep), ghosts (The Doll in the Garden), murder (When Dad Killed Mom; Monster), depression (Cut). It’s easy to see that Love Letters to the Dead would have fit in by its title alone.

March 28, 2014


*A billion husbands are about to to be replaced.

*Going on a date with someone new? Be sure to ask them about their favorite book — it can be pretty enlightening. [via the Date Report]

*Lauren Graham fans, here's some exciting news: the actress and now author is already working on the sequel to her book, Someday, Someday, Maybe. [via Reddit]

*Turns out Jane Austen is even more awesome than we thought — when she was 15, she wrote a satirical work called The History of England, which thumbs its nose at the children's schoolbooks of the day. [via Open Culture]

*As a Scot, I love this: a new app called Bookspotting tell you when you're near the location of a scene from Scottish literature. The free app pulls from approximately 3,500 books, and users can search by character, setting, place, theme, and location for recommendations. [via the BBC]

*Why do people have such a fascination with ghost stories? In a semi-secret late-night event at TED 2014, Neil Gaiman presented his theory. [recording via Brain Pickings]

*In I-wish-I-were-a-rich-person news, a letter by Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell went under the hammer yesterday. In it, she discusses the casting rumors swirling around the film adaption of her book. [via GalleyCat]

*Did you know Harriet the Spy is 50 years old?? To celebrate, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., is hosting an exhibition that features original art from the book. [via GalleyCat]

*Hey, YA readers — Holly Black, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments, have something they want to tell you. [via the Guardian]

March 27, 2014


Thank you to everyone who entered to win a copy of Kayce Swigelson's The Grand Adventures of Petit Louis — the lucky recipient (selected by the Randomizer) is Jim in Atlanta! Congratulations, Jim!

The Grand Adventures of Petit Louis is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble; if you haven't checked out my interview with Kayce, you can read it here

March 19, 2014


What a great way to use a space that no one tends to think about. Being short, I do wonder how practical it is — I know I'd have no chance of reaching the shelves that are high up and closest to the wall — but it's a a clever way to maximize space. Although, on second thought, if you have a staircase like this in your property, is it likely you're going to run out of space anytime soon?

But practical issues aside — because book collecting isn't exactly practical to begin with — I'm a fan.

March 18, 2014


As promised (though it's definitely no longer last week; apologies!), I have a signed copy of The Grand Adventures of Petit Louis to give away to one lucky reader! 

Interested? Send an email to, with Louis in the subject line and your name and address in the body of the email. This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. The contest closes at 11:59 p.m. this Friday, and the winner will be announced the following Monday. If you haven't read the book, check out my interview with author Kayce Swigelson here.

Good luck!