The Sunday Salon: The History of the Paperback

I like books. I know, blindingly obvious, but I don’t just mean that I like novels. I like the codexes themselves—the weight of the object, the texture of the cover, and the way it sits ever so prettily on my brutally curated bookshelf. And my absolute favorite kind of book is a yellowing paperback older than I am (with bonus points if it’s old-school speculative fiction with a deliriously loopy cover). As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I didn’t read as a kid—I reread. One of the books I reread over and over again was Understanding Other People, a decidedly retro self-help title that, among many other problematic things, asserted queer people are just afraid of the opposite sex. (Man, good thing I was so thick I didn’t absorb that crap.) But while I’ve thankfully jettisoned the useless content, I still retain a deep, enduring love for paperbacks whose pages flake. To celebrate that, let’s learn about its history.

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The Sunday Salon: Arts & Crafts — Newspaper Basket Weaving

Once, as a child, I sat down and tried to make a list of my resources. “Glue and paper,” I concluded. I was an unfortunately literally-minded child. But I do accumulate paper like nobody’s business, so most of my crafty behavior comes not from whipping a little something up on the sewing machine, but from bending paper to my will. Last December, faced with a limited budget for the holidays but access to endless amounts of newsprint, I added a woven newspaper basket to my repetoire, so I thought I’d share it with y’all today for all your New Year’s Resolution organizing plans.

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The Sunday Salon: That Harsh, Hissing Z

The other day, I wrote the word “criticize” into a comment box (while writing a comment, not just inputting a single word, that’d be weird) and then paused. I questioned the choice, so I tried out the word “critique” instead. Doesn’t that just sound nicer? It’s that critical –que; it’s soft, even though it’s a hard k. It’s elegant, round. Inoffensive. In short, it’s not “criticize”, with its hissing, harsh z. But doing that made me feel even more uncomfortable, and I realized what was wrong. I do my damndest to rampage through life enjoying it to the hilt on my own terms—my non-negotiable 11 PM bedtime, baby librarian, cranky old woman-in-training terms. I don’t apologize for being, well, me. But when I found myself typing “critique” instead of “criticize” because it seemed nicer, I found myself apologizing for looking at something with a critical eye, which is kind of my whole thing.

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The Sunday Salon: Technical Difficulties Strike Back

Today, I had planned to write about my New Year’s Resolutions—reaffirming my commitment to Graffiti Reviews, perhaps promising to read some classic speculative fiction with the fabulous Renay, and other reading goals, as well keeping up my correspondence. Obviously, this is not that post, because 2013 decided to introduce itself to me with three punches to the stomach—in one case, almost literally.

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The Sunday Salon: 2012 in Review

It’s the last Sunday of the year, so you know what that means. Either I’m getting stingier or this year hasn’t been the best reading year for me—while last year’s year in review post was agonizing to curate, I did this year’s in a few hours. Hopefully, 2013 will ring in a higher batting average for my reading. But it’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my reading this year; I definitely have, especially my nonfiction reading—I mean, I discovered Tom Wolfe this year, so that is a definite plus. As ever, this list is culled from what I read in 2012, not what was released in 2012 (although I read more recent titles this year than in past years).
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The Sunday Salon: Crossing the Line

I read as a kid, but not omnivorously. Rather, I read repetitively. Looking back, it was probably a self-soothing gesture, just like my incorrigible fidgetiness. In middle school, one of the books I read repetitively was Roald Dahl’s Boy, his slim autobiography about growing up in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. Already reared on my mother’s taste for British television (To the Manor Born, anyone?) and concurrently watching reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it was perfect for me. I particularly remember the sweets incident, where Dahl and his school friends are given free Cadbury bars as testers. There’s a wonderful Quentin Blake illustration of the young Dahl eating chocolate on a sunny stair, and I loved it. I may not be as huge a Roald Dahl fan as others of my generation, given the ‘90s penchant for adapting his works to film, but that’s still a warm memory for me.

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The Sunday Salon: The Hobbit — An Unexpected Journey Midnight Premiere

Okay, well, actually, it wasn’t midnight, it was 12:15 AM. The fact that Peter Jackson and company really want you to see this in high frame rate 3D sat poorly with my group of friends—since childhood, I have subconsciously allied myself with people who wear glasses. (I recommend this strategy.) In the interests of not having my friends’ heads explode when exposed to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I got tickets for the 12:15 AM 2D screening in Atlantic Station. And lo and behold, the official TheOneRing.Net line party was being held at this very screening! Having never been to a line party before (and two of us having never been to a midnight screening before!), we were all super-excited, so when Thursday night finally rolled around and we were done braiding each other’s hair and talking about Tolkien, we took to the highway. (Music: “I Will Wait”, Mumford & Sons.)

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The Sunday Salon: Graffiti Reviews

Yesterday, editor and author William Giraldi reviewed Bill Henderson’s Rotten Reviews Redux: A Literary Companion. This, in and of itself, is not particularly noteworthy. What is noteworthy is Giraldi’s utter hatred for book bloggers. (I assume one of us killed his parents.) Taking Henderson’s introduction, where Henderson despairs of the attitudes that anonymity produces, as a jumping off point, Giraldi shows his hand. Book bloggers are “leeches”, “shit” as opposed to “serious”, full of “unlettered opinions with scarcely more authority than the feral scratching in Cro-Magnon’s diary”, “a community of coddlers who approach literature as if it were a Sunday knitting circle”. To quote (because I’m a masochist):

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The Sunday Salon: Giving (Bookish) Thanks

For us Americans, this past Thursday was Thanksgiving. I finally was able to convince my mother to let me “help” (i.e., take over) with Thanksgiving dinner, and we had a fantastic time brainstorming a menu and executing it. And it was so nice to spend a few days at home, tending to things, like trying new recipes, interviewing librarians for grad school, and finally return my friend Natalya’s The Mighty Boosh DVDs. It’s a nice bit of decompression before the final push, so I’d thought I’d extend the holiday a bit and share what I’m (bookishly) thankful for.
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