Monday, May 19, 2008

Principles of Uncertainty

I definitely recommend this book. I was finally able to buy it this past weekend at Borders (yay, 40% off coupons...), after reading it numerous times in bookstores. Maira Kalman's art & words are thought-provoking, though sometimes seemingly odd, & the book generally feels like there's a tint of melancholy (or maybe that's just me). This doesn't hurt it, though; it's part of it.

It's an amazing book; hardback & everything, it has weight to it (literally, metaphorically). Kalman's writing is more like she's speaking to you, very personal. It's as though you're following her through her adventures. And her art, while not exactly realistic, gets down likenesses amazingly well with very little brushstrokes. And even when she works from photographs-- i'm assuming she does; she carries a camera with her when she goes walking-- they don't feel like they were. It's all her style.

One of my favorite pages reads thus: "At Cuccio's Bakery we see a seven-layer chocolate cake with a cherry on top. A seven-layer chocolate cake with a CHERRY ON TOP!!" It is accompanied by a painting of the aforementioned cake, & just seems so full of exuberance for this seemingly little thing. It's kind of inspiring-- the book as a whole is.

Also of note: The Invention of Everything Else. Bought it a while back, with a coupon & a gift card, after reading a little blurb about it in Elle magazine. The cover looked interesting, & it had to do with Nikola Tesla, whom i'd only heard about in passing on MythBusters. So i went & bought it & read it, & it is also a very good book. Very well-written & atmospheric, & also very well researched. Samantha Hunt's writing is amazing, & now i want to read the book she write before this one (The Seas, i think it's called), but no one ever has it in stock. But if Invention of Everything Else is anything to go by, Hunt is definitely one of those writers that people call "a writer to watch," & all of her novels will be this good.

Bought two new books at Ukazoo today. (Eheh. I'm horrible.) Ukazoo's a really nice store; it primarily sells used books, but, as the images on the site show, it's not a mess like most other used book stores. Don't get me wrong-- i like going to The Book Thing (free books!) & the Unicorn Bookstore & other places where there's just books everywhere, but it often feels overwhelming to walk in & have to dig without any clear direction. (Most times, even in sections, books aren't in order.) So it's really nice to have a place where one digs about as much as one would at a conventional bookstore, & the prices are even nicer: everything's less than or about equal to $10. So one could get lucky & find a book they've wanted that's usually $16 & get it for $2.89 or something. Places to sit are also plentiful 9some of the squishiest chairs ever), & there's even a little corner supplying complimentary tea & coffee. So you can make yourself some earl grey without having to pay anyone.

The only thing is that they're updating their inventory, & there's never a guarantee that they'll have the book in anyway, so the best bet is to ask or call. It seems that every time the computer tells me they have whatever i'm looking for, i go & look, & it's not there. Have a bad habit of walking all over the store & walking back to the same spot multiple times, as if the hoped-for book will miraculously appear while i've been off elsewhere. That can be frustrating.

But found two that seem interesting, & will see if they are. Not as though i already have about eight other books i'm supposedly reading.

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