Books, Chiropody, Fancy goods

Open Week Day 3: Books. I've got a bit of a problem with my reading habits. Since a couple of years ago I can't read fiction. Don't really know what happened, but I can't follow a story. So I stick to non-fiction, mostly biographies, diaries or books that are just about interesting stuff. I'm currently reading Head On/Repossessed by Julian Cope and next up I've got Nothing by Paul Morley to look forward to. The best books I've read lately are 45 by Bill Drummond, The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton, How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson, Lost Cosmonaut by Daniel Kalder and A Year With Swollen Appendices by Brian Eno. There have already been some interesting suggestions for books. Anyone got any more?

The Links

Many, many thanks for the magazine suggestions. If you've just arrived feel free to chip in. Thanks also to those of you who have jumped the gun and started on books and music. That's fine, we'll be coming to them another day. I'll summarise the comments at the end of the week but until then it's topic 2: blogs. I am in *such* a rut with my blog reading. Please help me. If it's not on the blogroll (bottom right) I probably don't read it. What's good to go?


Do you ever get the feeling that you're stuck in a rut? Doing, reading and listening to the same things? I feel like that just now. I listen to the same music, browse the same websites, read the same papers and they're all good, don't get me wrong, but I need a change. So this week I'm looking to you, dear reader, to suggest something new to chew. Whatever you like, please recommend it here.

Over the week I'm going to look for a new thing every day covering music, blogs, clubs and er, miscellaneous but let's start with the one that got me thinking about this - magazines. It's a great feeling when you find a magazine you really love to read and can't wait to see the next issue on the shelves. To feel like you belong to this community of readers who all like the same things. At various times I've felt like that about Whizzer & Chips, Just 17, Smash Hits, the NME, The Face, The Idler and Wallpaper*. But now I don't read anything regularly anymore apart from the Guardian magazine on a Saturday and that's not really doing it for me.

I have recently enjoyed Smoke: a London peculiar, B-Music's occasional (free) fanzine on incredibly strange music and Kettering: the magazine of elderly British comedy (brilliant) - more fanzines really but that's fine. I often long for the golden age of fanzines. There was never a shortage of inspiration then. Late addition: Grow Your Own - the only glossy mag I subscribe to. I have tried and found wanting Karen Magazine (too arty) and The Enthusiast (no idea what's going on there; like a joke with no punchline).

So can you help me? What do you all read?

Toryglen flats demolition

We had a big family day out today watching a tower block in Toryglen being demolished. As a child of the Jim'll Fix It generation big buildings falling down are something to get excited about and this was my first demolition. And these weren't any old flats. They were the flats in the Sony Bravia advert, traces of paint still visible on the lower floors. So we went and after a long wait where we had to keep reassuring Tommy that the flats were empty and no one was going to get hurt there was a horn to scare the birds away and then BANG. It only took a few seconds for it all to come down. It was all surprisingly neat. There's a very elegant slideshow on Flickr that's got it in slo-mo. Fans of this kind of thing should check out Implosion World and the Highrise Glasgow Flickr pool.

Late edition: excellent piece of trivia from the updated BBC article. Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill from Simple Minds used to live on the 11th floor. See, you can't go anywhere in Glasgow without tripping over a piece of pop heritage.

M. Sasek - This is Cape Canaveral

I got a question through one of my other sites This is M. Sasek, asking what type face or font is used in Sasek's This is books. Can anyone identify it from the picture above (full size)? This picture is from This is Cape Canaveral scanned in by Ward Jenkins for his great Retro Kid flickr group. There are a few more Sasek's in there plus some other gems so it's well worth a look.

For anyone thinking "Who?" M. Sasek was an artist and illustrator of children's books, the most famous being the This is series of travel books. Born 1916 in Prague he left in 1948 and settled in Munich working for a spell at Radio Free Europe. He died in 1980. There are 18 titles in the This is series, each one describing a city or country, published between 1959 and 1974. He has a remarkable style, evocative of its time but somehow timeless and although the locations have changed over the years the books don't date. I did a page about him when I like started, and when it got a lot of interest decided to move it to a separate site. 3 years on it steadily attracts interest, not in huge quantities but generally from really cool people - lots of illustrators, animators and designers. I neglected it a bit last year but am trying to get back to it now. If you'd like an introduction there is a little slideshow. Some of the books have been reissued - details on This is M. Sasek. You'll like them, you really will.

I like: library catalogue cards

I couldn't resist a shot of the library catalogue card generator (via The Morning News). How lovely. Being an ex-librarian a call number sprang to mind (I classified books for years and know parts of the Dewey Decimal System off by heart) which turned out to be the number for Research. I guess that's quite appropriate for I like.

Classification systems are pretty fascinating if you like that kind of thing. Any attempt to organise knowledge shouldn't be sniffed at and reading through the Dewey classes is intriguing. There are romantic subjects like Celestial mechanics, Incunabula, Dreams & Mysteries, Salvation & Grace and lots of words to look up in the dictionary like Syllogisms, Theodicy and Eschatology.

Old Melvil Dewey himself was a bit of a character. Having successfully organised everything in the world he turned his passions to spelling reform. He insisted that his name should be spelt Melvil Dui and the American spelling of catalog is all his fault. A quote from his Wikipedia entry:

His theories of spelling reform found some local success at Lake Placid: there is an "Adirondac Loj" in the area, and dinner menus of the Lake Placid Club featured his spelling reform. A September 1927 menu is headed "Simpler spelin" and features dishes like Hadok, Poted beef with noodls, Parsli or Masht potato, Butr, Steamd rys, Letis, and Ys cream. It also advises guests that "All shud see the butiful after-glo on mountains to the east just befor sunset. Fyn vu from Golfhous porch."

Wise cream? The great big fool. Vaguely related: The epic 1995 film Party Girl with Parker Posey as a New York raver who turns into a dedicated librarian, AceJet 170 on flight ticket nostalgia and a whole raft of Flickr library groups including Library postcards.

I always find new year quite a miserable time. It's the post-holiday come down and the grind of going back to work; the weight of unmade or quickly broken resolutions - knowing that this is it for another year and come December nothing will have changed. So I start each year thinking that something amazing might happen. It might not, but that's not worth contemplating. Instead I convince myself that this year something really great is going to come out of the blue and make everything okay. I don't know what the thing is, or exactly what okay means but still, I started last year like this and it got me through. Giving up some responsibility to fate takes the pressure off a bit. And it always makes me think of this lovely Zombies song. I'm sure 2007 will be our year. For sure.

The Zombies - This will be our year (mp3).

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