SHELF LIFE: My Pandemic Diary: March 25, 28, 30, & 31, 2021

I’ve spent most of my day supine. Chills and fatigue hit this afternoon and didn’t really let up.

BOOK LAB: Back to High School.

I got in trouble in junior high for making a 'slam book.' The offending questions included: What's your favorite tv show? and How many siblings do you have? and Who's your celebrity crush? My classmates passed it round and round until I had long lovely lists of people's answers. And it made me very happy. But …

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BOOK LAB: Depressed. Addicted. Suicidal.

At 20, she overdosed on sleeping pills in her mother's cellar. At 29, she drove her car into a river. At 30, Sylvia Plath finally killed herself by sticking her head in an oven. Think about that a second. One night, she placed wet towels under the doors to keep her babies safe, turned on …

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BOOK LAB: Ugly Ass Books

We have a recycle bin at the library that should be called the Cornucopia of Surprise.  Mostly, it's trash. Newspaper circulars. Worn paperbacks with detached pages. Broken books. Wet books. Moldy books. Useless donations like roach-nibbled encyclopedias, obsolete plumbing manuals, and Weight Watcher recipe cards from 1974. But sometimes, you find treasure. One time I found the social studies …

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Classics (and Confessions): BOOK LAB experiment 3.

"I'll give you 50 dollars to read Pride and Prejudice!" My Granny loved bribes. It was the only way she'd get me to watch old movies and read certain books. The going rate on movies was 5 bucks. Truth be told, curling up and watching movies with her didn't take coercion. But I was in …

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Book Lab: Judging a Book By Its Cover Is (Mostly) Legit

E. D. Watson

That old axiom about judging books by their covers? It’s bullcrap. You can totally do it—and with a reasonable degree of success. That’s what our most recent Book Lab experiment proved: most of the books we chose lived up to our cover-based expectations. (Click here for the setup.)

This is not to say that the cover is always going to be a good measure of a book’s contents—both Jennifer and I were disappointed in our books, despite their appealing covers. But book designers are trying to depict something about the essence of each book with the covers they create.

November’s mental_floss magazine included an interview with book designer Keith Hayes about this very subject (one of Hayes’ more well-known covers is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch). Contrary to what I’d expected, Hayes says “You can’t start a design from what you think a buyer is going to like….We think about…

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Book Lab: Judging a Book by Its Cover, Part 2

Book Lab’s 2nd Experiment!

E. D. Watson

If book jackets are designed to appeal to the aesthetic of a specific readership, as determined selectingby our first Book Lab experiment, then what appeals to us, individually, as readers? In our follow-up investigation, we examined this question by choosing books from the library’s New Fiction display, based solely on the appeal of their covers. This could include:

  • Art
  • Endorsements by other authors
  • Prize-nomination or award stickers
  • Title
  • Author

jennifer2We were not, however, allowed to read the summary of the novel — we were interested in what compels us to pick up a book in the first place. What assumptions do we make about content or quality based upon the cover?

By limiting our choices to the New Fiction display, we also eliminated outdated aesthetics, which could negatively influence our decision, but are ultimately irrelevant. Remember how in the eighties all the women’s books had big flowers and…

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Blindfolds and Weiner Jokes: BOOK LAB UPDATE

Um. Ya. Careful posting yourself blindfolded on the internet with "weiner" in the title. ---that's all I'm gonna say about that. Thanks for all the traffic, though. I sincerely hope the blindfold 'enthusiasts' come back to read the *ahem* happy ending. (Sorry.) The nerd in me conjured up a book experiment. I wanted to see …

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Blindfolds and Weiner Jokes: First Ever BOOK LAB.

Ya'll know I love reading, right? LOVE it. And I *adore* books. Holding books. Sniffing books. I may've even cuddled a book before. In our house, we regard books like fine china. Carefully placed on a special shelf in a particular way, there for anxious hands and adoring eyes. Yes, yes, come look at them. …

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