Is It Mold ?

One of the hazards in collecting and/or selling antiquarian and secondhand books is the frequent presence of mold. Active book mold is usually identifiable, as it is typically damp and fuzzy, but inactive mold can often be confused with dirt, staining, or just commonplace foxing. I recently found the very helpful chart below, which was designed to help bibliophiles and librarians to identify signs of mold. A big h/t to the Michigan State University Library for sharing.

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See NYC Like Superman

Architect Candy Chan has created a mindblowing series of “x-ray” maps of New York City subway stations. Each of her elaborate drawings show the station lay-outs and orientation relating to the geography of the surrounding streets above. Check-out Chan’s website for detailed zoomable maps and information on purchasing print copies.


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Bookstore Tourism : Paris

When I’m in Paris, I sometimes find myself paralyzed by the bookstore choices. On my last visit, I counted twelve bookshops on a ten minute bus ride. And while I usually spend a day or two just browsing the fantastic antiquarian shops, I also try and pop-in at some of my favorite independent bookstores, especially shops that stock secondhand titles. One of my longtime favorites is Brian Spence’s Abbey Bookshop, which is situated in a quaint 18th century building on an equally charming little street in the 5ème. 

The Abbey has two jam-packed floors, with more than 35,000 new and used titles in English and French. And unlike some pretentious tourist trap shops—I’m looking at you Shakespeare and Company—Spence’s prices are usually very fair.


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Mother Tongues

The National Geographic’s senior graphics editor Alberto Lucas López created this wonderful pie chart to illustrate the proportional representation of the world’s twenty three most spoken languages. López based the graphic on native speakers, with each language marked by black borders. You can see more of the  project on this website. 

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It was a dark and stormy night

Each year, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest receives hundreds of entrants all competing to craft the worst opening sentence for an imaginary novel. The annual event celebrates English author and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who once penned the infamous line “It was a dark and stormy night”.

This year’s winner is Kat Russo from Colorado, who wrote this memorable opening sentence:

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.

You can learn more about the contest and read some more dreadful openers on the Bulwer-Lytton website. 


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The New Yorker in Tokyo

The Tōkyōiter is a brilliant project from Tokyo-based artists Andrew Joyce and David Roberts, along with a disparate group of Japanese and European illustrators. Riffing on the iconic format of The New Yorker magazine cover, they created an imaginary periodical for Tokyo incorporating clever references to contemporary Japanese culture. You can see the all of the faux covers celebrating Tokyo at the website.

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No Pulp Fictions

TBTP followers already know that I’m a sucker for art installations that incorporate books. So, an artwork that includes rescued discarded books from the last century is right up my alley.

Enclosed Content Chatting Away in the Colour Invisibility by Amsterdam-based Dutch artist Anouk Kruithof is on display at Casemore Kirkeby Gallery in  San Francisco’s Dogpatch District. The installation, which is made-up of Cold War-era abandoned books that were saved from the pulpers, has been on the move since 2008. Each new incarnation of the project is assembled in a unique configuration, with the color of the books determining the form.

Kruithof is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, text, photography, book art, and performance. Her varied, acclaimed works have been shown at such prestigious institutions as MoMA NYC, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and Erata Museum in Saint Petersburg.

photos © Michelle Park

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Beach Read


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Listen to the dark voices

Karel Capek


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Helicopter Camping

We’ve seen lots of airplanes that have been converted into hotel accommodations, but this is the first helicopter to make the transition. The folks at Helicopter Glamping in Stirling, Scotland purchased a decommissioned Sea King search and rescue chopper from the Royal Navy for only £7,000 and transported it by road to a pastoral campsite at Thornhill near Stirling.

After restoring the helicopter’s exterior, they transformed the interior space into a comfortable apartment complete with kitchen and bath. A dome and patio doors were added to admit natural light and the flight deck was kitted-out with comfy chairs.

Rental feels start at £150 per night for this unique hotel room. More information can be found at this website. 

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