Mondays are miscellaneous now

Antiquarian books – from the bookshelf’s view point..

This book records a Buddhist text given to the Qianlong emperor by a Panchen Lama from Tibet. The calligraphy was written by the court official Liang Guozhi (1723–1774) then engraved into the jade pages and painted gold.

[text source: @metmuseum]

I never thought that I would see the French army guarding the iconic Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris.

Most bibliophiles would be secretly happy to be waiting out the pandemic at the B2 Hotel in Zurich; I would not complain.

Just me staying put and self-isolating as requested.



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Free Reading Materials (really pt.2)

While millions of people are staying home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Scribd is making their digital library of ebooks and audiobooks free for everyone:


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Million Cat Caturday

“Millions of Cats” is a picture book written and illustrated by artist Wanda Gag in 1928. The book won a Newberry award in 1929 and is the oldest American picture book still in print.







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Library of Exile

I first discovered the ceramic artist and writer Edmund de Waal through his best-selling book The Hare with the Amber Eyes. If you are not familiar with the memoir, it’s a compelling read that encompasses not only de Waal’s family history, but European history, art,religion,philosophy, and much more. But de Waal may be best known for his installations of  porcelain vessels.

His newest installation, at London’s British Museum, is titled Library of Exile . The work is made up of two thousand books just like the ones you would find in a bookstore or library, but the walls and shelves are made of porcelain. In the installation, the books themselves are the usual board and paper, but de Waal has instructed visitors to write their names on a label tucked inside each book, and encourages people to talk  about books while they are in “The Library.”The artist was inspired to create the installation by the library of his great-grandfather, which was looted by the Nazis in Austria.

The library includes the work of almost 1,500 writers from 58 countries in dozens of languages and is still growing with people encouraged to suggest new titles. After six months at the British Museum the books in the library will be donated to the library of the University of Mosul in Iraq, which is being rebuilt after it was burned to the ground in 2015 by Isis. A million books were lost.



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Bookmobile with an Italian accent

UNA NUOVA INIZIATIVA PER LA DIFFUSIONE DEL LIBRO proclaims the title at the top of the photo, or, in English, A New Initiative for Distributing Books.

The early 1920s bookmobile was actually publisher’s method of selling books to the public, not a library’s program to get books to more citizens. Treves, in the photo’s caption, refers to Emilio Treves (1834-1916), the founder, editor, and publisher of L’Illustrazione Italiana. This publisher/bookseller model for book mobiles seems to have been a mostly Italian phenomenon not found here in North America.


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As above, So below

Dutch artist and printmaker Jaco Putker uses both traditional and digital methods to produce his surreal images. He usually works with photopolymer, or solar plate, etching. This allows him to create photo-realistic depictions. His finished pieces are at once amusing and disturbing.

The Hague-based artist avoids any over interpretation of what his images mean. Even the titles provide few clues, as they are basic descriptive statements like The Girl and The Mushrooms or The Boy and The Masks.

I’m interested in the Hermetic Principles of Correspondence (formulated in the axiom ‘As Above, So Below’; the correlation between macro and micro cosmos) and of Vibration (which states that all is in constant motion. Both in a visually perceivable manner as on a (sub)atomic level. Every part of nature is connected to any other part of nature. These seem to be the parameters within which my work takes place. But within these parameters, I try not to think too much about my work. Defining it sort of kills it for me. In hindsight, I see a development and recurring themes and elements. And it strikes me that I seem to be saying the same thing over and over, regardless of style, medium or technique.


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Conquest of Mars

Here is copy number 55 of the first edition of Edison’s Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss. There were only 1,500 copies in the first edition, and only 1,450 of those were offered for general distribution. Serviss, an astronomer, wrote Conquest in 1898; It was published serially in the New York Journal. This edition was published in 1947, and is the first time the entire serial publication appeared in one volume. The protagonist of Conquest is Thomas Edison, who leads a group of scientists attempting to defend earth against martians. The fantastic cover was done by Russell Swanson, and the equally captivating interior illustrations by Bernard Manley Jr. This is a terrific piece of science fiction history.

Serviss, Garrett P. Edison’s Conquest of Mars. Carcosa House. Los Angeles: 1947. Cover by Russell Swanson. Illustrations by Bernard Manley, Jr.


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How to help indie bookshops survive

The new coronavirus presents a real challenge to bookstores. Here are some ways you can help keep your local bookstore open—during the pandemic and after—without leaving home.

 1.  Pre-Order Books Online

It’s likely that you know a book you want is being released in the coming weeks or montths, so ordering it during a downturn doesn’t cost you any more than you planned to spend, and paying now gives the store cash when they need it.

2. Order More Than What’s on Our Shelves

Many indies can actually have books shipped directly to you from a warehouse.  The other advantage to warehouse fulfillment is booksellers can process these orders from home. They just need to click a button.

3. Listen to Digital Audiobooks Through

Many indie bookstores sell digital audiobooks through You can purchase single audiobooks or get a monthly membership. The files are DRM-free so you actually own them. Libro pays quarterly which can be a challenge for stores, but digital audiobooks represent cash coming in that no one needs to leave the house for.

4. Buy E-books

Many bookstores sell e-books, which are another great “nobody has to touch anything” source of income.

5. Buy a Gift Card

Even if don’t have anything you want to buy now, but still want to support the store. Buy a gift card online. Think of this as a no-interest loan that will give the store income when they need it.

6. Stock Up Now

Most of us have a serious “to be read” pile, but adding a few more books won’t hurt. After all, books are shelf-stable products that last for centuries.


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Unreal City

I rarely post music videos, but I’m a fan of M.Ward, Clémence Poésy (ever since her role as Elise Wasserman in “The Tunnel”), and of course Paris. Filmed on the streets of Paris, the Beatrice Pegard-directed video for M. Ward’s latest release, “Unreal City,” brings the essence of New Wave cinema into the 21st century. Clémence Poésy stars in the love song to the city.“Unreal City” appears in advance of M. Ward’s forthcoming album, Migration Stories, recorded at Arcade Fire’s Montreal studios.

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but oh the museums

At the End of the Endless Decade

Mark Bibbins
For years had anyone needed me
to spell the word commiserateI’d have disappointed them. I envy
people who are more excitedby etymology than I am, but not
the ones who can explain howmusic works—I wonder whether
the critic who wrotethat the Cocteau Twins were the voice
of god still believes it. Why not,what else would god sound like.
Even though I know better, when I see

the word misericordia I still think
suffering, not forgiveness;

when we commiserate we are united
not in mercy but in misery,

so let’s go ahead and call this abscess
of history the Great Commiseration.

The difference
between affliction and affection

is a flick, a lick—but check
again, what lurks in the letters

is “lie,” and what kind of luck
is that. As the years pile up

our friends become more vocal
about their various damages:

Won’t you let me monetize
your affliction, says my friend

the corporation. When I try to enter
the name of any city

it autocorrects to Forever:
I’m spending a week in Forever,

Forever was hotter than ever
this year, Forever’s expensive

but oh the museums,
and all of its misery’s ours.

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