Tag Archives: books

It’s A Book (and Also Something Else…)

image source

Behind the boom of new technology and the digital e-book revolution, there is a lingering panicky mantra among longtime book lovers that goes, But what about my pretty hardcovers?? And although I’m excited about the possibilities that the future holds, I’m right there with them – it makes me instinctively sick to think of a world where ITunes replaces bookstores and children grow up staring at screens. Those who agree will argue that there is something wonderfully tactile about the physical book: the cover design, flipping the pages, and oh, that smell… some things are just irreplacable.

But now that more and more readers are in favor of Kindles and IPads over stuffed bookshelves, what’s to become of the precious physical books?  Well, these designers have found some pretty creative ways to celebrate the spirit of the book as an object – by finding a different use for it.

1. The Shelf

What better way to display books than on a shelf of MORE books? Like the designers of this inventive shelf, I totally feel the pangs of abandonment when I see books thrown out instead of “repurposed” in some way.  Plus, this feeds right into my instinct to hoard books… long after I’ve read or have space for them.

2. The Laptop Case

Technology and traditional materials finally go hand-in-hand with these leather laptop cases, appropriately named the BookBook.  For only $80-100, you can swath your MacBook Pro in a hand-crafted faux hardback book.  So not only do you seem really intelligent to that cutie in the coffee shop, but no one has to know that you’re researching your paper on Google instead of at the library.  Go you.

3. The Camera

Pinhole cameras were always a fun experimental diversion in high school photo class, but these made of books, by Erin Paysse at Engrained Works, take the process to a whole new level beyond the average coffee can.  The pinholes even take and advance a roll of 35 mm film, just like a real camera… but so much classier!   I just can’t get over how gorgeous these are.

4. The Flower Pot

Ah, the age-old trick of digging out the inside of a book, the perfect disguise to hide away small treasures and secrets.  This time, though, the “secret treasure”, in the form of potted flowers, seems to announce itself proudly, unable to be contained, by popping out of pages in which it grows.  If only I was the gardening type… or lived in Japan.

5. The Tee

My knowledge of American literature is woefully tiny (thanks, public high school with no AP English), and I can’t be bothered to pick up such classics as Of Mice And Men and Moby Dick now when there are just SO many more fun books out there to read.  Still, I’d sport one of these fab t-shirts from Out Of Print (well, except for the Catcher In The Rye one), since they celebrate iconic book covers and even donate books to Books For Africa for every tee they sell.  Who says book nerds can’t be fashion-forward?


Well, Don’t We All…

This gem is via Found Magazine

Just a little tidbit to start off your morning. Now drag yourself out of that stupor and go get glamorous – there’s a world of books to read!  xoxo

The Summer Reading List 2010

Kicking off the blog with a classic summer tradition – the reading list!

Now that I have a daily commute and plenty of relaxation time at Brighton Beach, I can’t wait to breeze through these picks:

The Girl With The Dragon TattooStieg Larsson / I’m not usually a fan of murder mysteries, but this trilogy has been red-hot for so long, I might as well jump in the fire, too.

An Education – Lynn Barber / Like so many films that leave you wanting more, I can’t wait to dive into the story again – but this time from the inspiration herself.

This Is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper / Maybe I want to read this book because I’m a sucker for bitingly witty takes on deeper truths.  Or maybe I just like the cover design.

Prospect Park West – Amy Sohn / Juicy, juicy summer gossip – Park Slope-style!

Dreaming In Hindi – Katherine Russell Rich / Please let this satisfy my craving for all things reminiscent of Eat Pray Love and Bollywood…

The American Painter – Emma Dial / Woman in the New York art world.  Sold.

The Imperfectionists Tom Rachman / This cast of quirky, complex characters, set in a dying newspaper of bustling Rome, sounds so appealing that I may have to splurge for the hardcover (note: every other book on this list is in paperback, because I’m cheap).

Prep – Curtis Sittenfeld / Don’t judge!  It’s no worse than watching Pretty Little Liars on Hulu…. and obviously everyone does that.

Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs / I’ve read every other author along the lines of Augusten Burroughs – except for the man himself.  It’s like being a punk fan who has never heard The Clash.

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It – Maile Meloy / Since G. P. Putnam’s gets to publish her first YA project, I should probably check out her books for adults.  If she’s any bit as lyrical as her brother (Colin Meloy of the Decemberists), I’ll love it!

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins / I’m only about two years behind the ball on dystopian YA fiction.  Guess I better get started.

Stay tuned to see how all these promising books turn out.  Any suggestions?  Please recommend!

More Literate Than Lauren Conrad!

Thanks to The Longstockings blog for highlighting the “expert” interview of author reality star Lauren “LC” Conrad on EW.com’s Shelf Life.  It’s no surprise that the girl couldn’t have come up with a genuine answer if she tried (Goodnight Moon? Really?), and it’s pretty funny. I feel for her ghost writer.

I decided to show the West Coaster how it’s really done… by filling out the interview for myself.  Read on…

Favorite book as a child / There were SO, so many, but my standard answers as a child were Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco for my favorite picture book, and as I got older, The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White.

Book you’ve gone back to and read over and over again / I’ve probably read the Golden Compass by Philip Pullman dozens of times in my life, and it is fascinating in a completely different way now than when I was 10 years old.

Required reading that you hated / God rest his soul, J. D. Salinger, but I genuinely hated Catcher In The Rye.  I’m sorry, but that’s what I would’ve said last week.

Fictional character you most identify with / She’s not fictional, but Sloane Crosley, whose memoir I Was Told There’d Be Cake had me in stitches for weeks, is the Westchester-Jewish-writer version of myself.

Favorite book by a fellow celebrity / Does David Sedaris count? How about Amy?

Favorite book as a teen / Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, is pretty much the reason I made it through my adolescent years.  She was my role model… I used to read it over and over for reassurance.  My dog-eared copy still sits on my shelf at college, and I’m pretty sure I’ve teared up every time I’ve read it.

Book you’ve faked reading / I try never to use SparkNotes, but I did fake reading Nietszche. He’s not my scene.

Book you’d use as a doorstop / Janson’s A History of Art is the requisite doorstop of any art student.

Book you want to read next / I’m simultaneously reading The Help and Double Take, but the top three books/audiobooks I’ve been dying to get to for months are Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation, Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine.

Book that changed your life / I already mentioned Stargirl, so here is my cheesy runner-up answer to make LC proud: last year, He’s Just Not That Into You became the first and only self-help book to change my life. Seriously. Now, it’s the book that I want to use to slap my girlfriends in the face.

Book with the best movie version / I’ve always had a soft spot for High Fidelity, and the movie adaptation is almost as witty, poignant and entertaining as Nick Hornby’s novel.  More recently, I was blown away by Precious: based on the novel Push by Sapphire, and I keep picking up the book in stores but I don’t think I have the guts to read it (if you can believe it, the movie actually glossed over a lot).

Best author to read on airplanes / I always read short stories, like No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July, that keep my attention, but I can fall asleep and not lose my place if I want. Just make sure the person next to you isn’t reading over your shoulder at the inappropriate parts.

Fictional character you have nightmares about / After reading The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen in 4th grade, I had nightmares about the Holocaust for the rest of the year!

Iranian Children’s Literature



Last week, I went to a Sufi (a sect of Islam) whirling ritual for my Iranian cinema class. Know the term whirling dervishes?  Yep, I did that (minus the really sweet skirts)!  It was completely outside the range of anything I had ever seen or experienced, as it was the first time I had ever been to a worship service outside of the Christian faith.

I was completely struck by the conclusion that no matter how foreign the traditions are, the act of prayer is still the same in any culture.  The prayers, minus the Arabic, sounded so familiar that I could have been with someone close to me, in a place where I felt comfortable (like Camp Calumet!). The evening completely reinforced my personal belief that, no matter what faith you practice, all religions are just many paths to the same big guy upstairs.

This got me to wondering (of course)… what is their children’s lit like? I found a great research project in Iran devoted to just this topic.  WIth such a rich artistic and poetic culture, it’s no surprise that there is much Persian literature relating to children.

Then, I found an INCREDIBLE site (thanks to this blog!), called the International Digital Children’s Library, where you can read entire books – and their illustrations – from ANY country in the world!   BLEW MY MIND.  I could go into this for hours, but here’s just a few Persian/Farsi books (pictured above), whose drawings I LOVED:

Classic:  Book of Anecdotes by Hosayn Mo’llem, illustrated by Bahram Khaef. A Collection of Persian classic short stories, with an admonition or moral.

Modern: For You by Farideh Khalatbaree, illustrated by Valeria Valenza. A little girl watched a film that took the actors to the past, so she and her brother make a wish on a lamp to do the same.

There are plenty of other materials for Iranian and Islamic kids, too!  Here are a few great resources I found…

Arab and Muslim Children in Children’s Books

Books for Kids about Ramadan and Islam



Everyone’s reading: What’s In My Garden?

Guess what is everyone’s new favorite bedtime story*?

What’s In My Garden?, illustrated by Annie Beth Ericsson!

Annie's bookMandy, a Tri-Sigma sister from New Orleans, reading to her 2 1/2 yr old granddaughter, Sophie.  Thanks for the photo, Mandy!

Photo 51

Me and two best friends, Caitlin-Marie and Rebecca, enjoying a post-book signing reading in our Holiday Inn hotel room in Concord, NH.

Did I mention that they both happen to be super-fierce bloggers?

For extra-sharp copyrighting, sketches and gritty bodega wisdom, check out Caitlin-Marie.

For a refreshingly creative dose of fashion, design and personality, check out Rebecca.


*for children under 3 yrs old

That’s Like Me! by Jill Lauren, is out!

Book Designed by Annie Beth Ericsson:

That’s Like Me! Stories About Amazing People With Learning Differences.  By Jill Lauren, foreword by Jerry Pinkney.  (Star Bright Books, $7.95)   ISBN: 978-1-59572-208-9  BUY IT ON AMAZON TODAY

That's Like Me!(Jacket)

In addition to the board books, my first full book design project is also on sale now!  That’s Like Me!, by Jill Lauren, is an uplifting series of success stories, told through the eyes of real children and adults, who have overcome learning differences and achieved their goals.  The book is perfect for children and young adults, particularly 8-12 year olds, who are trying to get through obstacles at school.  Jill has really put together a book that is unlike anything else out there!

Personally, this was a really important book for me.  When I worked on That’s Like Me! this summer as a freelancer, I was faced with a task that was larger than anything I had previously accomplished in design.  It was my first time dealing with a non-fiction project for older readers, and I had to incorporate a lot of text, photos and collage elements in a way that would capture the attention of middle-grade kids.  I also learned a ton about working as a team, drawing from the help of Jill Lauren, editor Rena Grossman, and Star Bright Books to communicate everyone’s vision.  I feel confident that, thanks to working on That’s Like Me!, I have a much better understanding of what it takes to execute your point-of-view as a designer.

It feels amazing, after working so hard on a project like this, to finally hold it in my hands!  Plus, isn’t it’s exciting that the legendary children’s book illustrator, Jerry Pinkney (who is dyslexic) and I both have a stake in the same book?

I hope it does fabulously well and that the stories in this book can help many children struggling with LD!