Book Review- Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a literary mystery framing a book that’s really about our relationship with technology. The characters are post dot-com stereotypes, and the central mystery often takes a back seat to humorous digs at the pretensions of both luddites and technology evangelizers. That’s another way of saying that Sloan is writing to the high-tech “in” crowd, and some readers may feel a bit alienated. The sentiment, however, is as optimistic as it gets: in the conflict between high-tech and low, both sides can live happily ever after.

Mr. Penumbras… is similar to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, which sets a mystery in the world of video game geekdom, and to Neal Stephenson’s REAMDE, which mixes a similar technophilia with an action-movie plot. The slackers-on-holiday aspect will probably appeal to fans of Douglas Coupland as well.

On this day in 1582, the 18-year-old William Shakespeare and his (somewhat controversial) sweetie Anne Hathaway, 26, paid a 40-pound bond for their marriage license in Stratford-upon-Avon. Why controversial? Well, Anne gave birth to their daughter Susanna just 6 months later, and an entry in the Episcopal Register from November 27th records one Wm. Shaxpere’s intent to marry one ”Annam Whateley” of Temple Grafton. Was the Bard forced into a shotgun wedding, or was it a simple clerical error? Check out our Shakespeare collection at 822.33 on your Dewey dial, and come to your own conclusions.

On this day in 1582, the 18-year-old William Shakespeare and his (somewhat controversial) sweetie Anne Hathaway, 26, paid a 40-pound bond for their marriage license in Stratford-upon-Avon. Why controversial? Well, Anne gave birth to their daughter Susanna just 6 months later, and an entry in the Episcopal Register from November 27th records one Wm. Shaxpere’s intent to marry one ”Annam Whateley” of Temple Grafton. Was the Bard forced into a shotgun wedding, or was it a simple clerical error? Check out our Shakespeare collection at 822.33 on your Dewey dial, and come to your own conclusions.

Let’s do this thing: Book Trailer Tuesday, the snooty poetry edition….sort of. Cats are no strangers to art, of course. (See Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics, the controversial follow-up Why Paint Cats, and the cutting-edge look-book Glamourpuss: The Enchanting World of Kitty Wigs, to name just a few titles.) But I Could Pee On This represents a new pinnacle of artistic achievement, laying bare in just a few choice words the soft, vulnerable underbelly of F. Catus.  Consider: 

I lick your nose / I lick your nose again / I drag my claws down your eyelids / Oh, you’re up? Feed me.

Genius, no? You can find this gem on our New Books shelf up front.

Author and science journalist Lone Frank reveals how insight into our genes can change our personal lives and society. Intrigued? Check out Frank’s book, My Beautiful Genome : Exposing Our Genetic Future, One Quirk at a Timeand come join us for a discussion on Tuesday, December 11th at the Library.

And here’s a tune, to get things going…

It’s Your Genome (After All)
(Sung to the Tune of “It’s A Small World”) 

Verse:

There are just four bases in DNA.
There is G and T, and there’s C and A.
And their sequence in genes
Forms our guts, lungs, and spleens
From our genome after all.

Chorus:

It’s your genome after all,
It’s our genome after all,
It’s our genome after all,
We’ve great gobs of genes.

Verse:

If your ACA turns to ACT
There’s a world of problems
For you and me.
For the bases won’t hold,
And the protein won’t fold,
From your genome after all.

Chorus:

Oh, come on…it’s not that bad. *ahem* Well, anyway…

Next in our Home Library series is Ben- Adult Services Manager. Stay tuned for more inside looks at the books of your local librarians!

“Home library” gives it a grandeur it really doesn’t deserve. My apartment is just full of books—some of which actually reside on “shelves” of one sort or another. Things are roughly organized by subject—by which I mean it’s possible to say “the art books are over there”, while waving one’s hand vaguely at the pile of miscellaneous jumble near the back windows. There is a special bookshelf for my vintage SciFi pulp collection, more as a sort of quarantine than anything else. It would be a terrible thing if the classics got infected with trashy genre fic.

 

Favorite books include an embossed leather bound Family Home Medical Guide from the 1920s; a small collection of mid-century science textbooks; How to Master the Video Games, by Tom Hirschfeld, from 1981; and a copy of Ashtrays by Lukas Tomin, from Twisted Spoon Press in Prague, CZ, purchased at an amazing indie bookstore/café while I was teaching English there in 2001. I suppose I could go on, but that’s what comes to mind first.

Misha Glouberman teaches charades. To grown-ups. Because, it turns out, charades is hard: it requires you to be empathetic, creative, and an effective communicator. Which, curiously enough, is also what’s required to get along in the world. So this book, essentially, is a handy, pocket-sized guide to being a person who doesn’t suck. Not bad for a Canadian charades instructor, eh?
You, too, can better yourself by picking up The Chairs Are Where the People Go at your library today.

Misha Glouberman teaches charades. To grown-ups. Because, it turns out, charades is hard: it requires you to be empathetic, creative, and an effective communicator. Which, curiously enough, is also what’s required to get along in the world. So this book, essentially, is a handy, pocket-sized guide to being a person who doesn’t suck. Not bad for a Canadian charades instructor, eh?

You, too, can better yourself by picking up The Chairs Are Where the People Go at your library today.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of the greatest contemporary art centers in America. In the past 75 years, the Guggenheim has accomplished numerous amazing projects, and the latest is certainly one to fawn over.

A public archive of catalogs from historical art exhibitions which took place at the Guggenheim has recently been published via the gallery’s website. You can now view almost any rare catalog from any exhibition in the Guggenheim’s history at absolutely no cost, and others still are available for download- imagine reading those on the train from your phone, or your e-reader mid-flight. It’s also an exciting use for our public computers at the library, in addition to our already growing collection of large format art books. With these great new resources, you can explore the historical world of art from the library, or in your own home.

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery

Sequined love guns, microbe hankerchiefs, siamese twins… Hoopla offers up 10 chapters of odd, off-the-wall, and delightfully creative embroidery, with a combination of interviews, color plates of finished pieces, advice for novice embroiderers, and DIY projects. Proof that, as one featured artist writes, the embroidery hoop is rolling merrily along into a new generation. Available at the library now!

Chicks With Guns

Cover

“Usually women with guns are turned into comic book characters — Lara Croft, Kill Bill — and I thought it would be fascinating to find out who the real women in our country are who own guns,” says photographer Lindsay McCrum, quoted in Wired. And so she has. These artfully composed photos of strong women and the firearms that are part of their daily lives are accompanied by brief biographies and quotes from the subjects. The collection is both beautiful and culturally, politically, and emotionally charged. (Now available at the library.)