If there’s one thing I love more than reading books, it’s setting goals. In July I planned to learn palm-reading, make spanikopita, perfect my cartwheel, memorize about 200 dinosaur genera, and read Finnegan’s Wake. Sadly, I’m much better at making goals than I am at accomplishing them. I gave up on the cartwheels when I almost broke my neck (and flashed the neighbors) on my first try. I gave up on the dinosaur genera when I realized that the only people I could feasibly impress with that knowledge belong in the 10-and-under demographic. I’ve been on page sixteen of Finnegan’s Wake since last Tuesday. Oh well, there’s always August.
- Print vs. E-book: the epic showdown. I’ve been waffling about getting an e-reader for the past three months. Pros: portable, will make me appear high-tech even though in reality I’m still trying to figure out how to switch my GPS back from Cantonese to English. Cons: will break if I drop it.
- The olfactory factor. Books smell good; e-readers don’t. In fact, book-sniffing is one of my favorite hobbies, which might explain why I’m blacklisted at some bookstores. There’s actually some hard science behind the smell of old books. That maple syrup scent comes from compounds breaking down in the wood pulp of the pages. Who knew? Now I just have to figure out how to recreate that smell artificially and insert it into an e-reader. New goal.
- Can your e-reader do this? Thought not.
- How to explain the e-reader to Charles Dickens. Art student Rachel Walsh had a novel idea.
- Let me know when they make an e-book library. Amendment: let me know when it looks like one of these. Until then, I’m sticking with print.
- Color-coded bookshelves. Oh man. I’m smitten.
- Different Ways of Telling Stories. I have an unhealthy obsession with Penguin’s digital fiction. In The 21 Steps, Charles Cumming combines a tightly-wound plot with Google Maps technology. Moshin Hamid’s story The (Former) General and His Labyrinth is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book for adults. Should you leave your office or reminisce about your childhood? It’s not quite as fun as choosing between a bat-infested yeti cave and being abducted by Martians, but I’ll take it anyway.
- Literary Enigmas. In 1912, book dealer Wilfrid Voynich acquired a medieval manuscript in an unknown script. The author, language, and content of the Voynich manuscript are still a mystery. My money’s on 15th-century alien visitors in cahoots with Paul McCartney’s time-traveling ghost.
- Childrens’ books as sociological benchmarks. Check out this side-by-side comparison of the original 1963 version of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever and the revised version published in 1991.
- Speaking of political correctness, here are some of Hemingway’s long-lost, unpublished blond jokes.
Goals for August: color-code my bookshelves, invent an e-reader that smells like old books, develop a cipher to decode the Voynich Manuscript. If I start feeling ambitious, I might even read page 17 of Finnegan’s Wake. No promises, though. I’m trying to be more realistic this time around.
— Jordan Castelloe, Blog Intern