Thursday, April 03

The Trivial Eye: Young Adult Novels

by Jason Toon
Today, the day after International Children's Book Day, seems like a good time to celebrate Young Adult novels. Of course, in a better world, they would just be called novels. Those who judge a book by which section it's shelved in are missing out. The best YA fiction can be as serious, as funny, and as moving as anything on the latest prize shortlist - and I'm sure at least one of these classics has left an indelible impression on you, too.

 

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Monday, February 17

 

Wednesday, July 17

There Can Be Only Pun: Bathroom Books

by Sean Adams

You guys, I have an addiction. I'm addicted to puns. I need them. I can't get enough of them. I HUNGER FOR THEM. That's why I've set up this weekly blog feature: so you guys can feed my addiction. Every week, I'll name the topic, give you some examples, and then you'll pun away in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter. I'll choose the best ones and post them here next week. Sound good? Good! Let's do it!

THIS WEEK'S EPISODE: Bathroom Reads

We're going highbrow today, you guys. We're looking for books that belong in the bathroom. Wait, haven't we done this before? No, that was bands in the bathroom. Anyway, here are some examples of what we're looking to put in our library of potty literature:

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Wednesday, March 13

 

Wednesday, November 28

The Trivial Eye: James Bond Novels

by Jason Toon

James Bond: the man who saved the Trivial Eye. Yes, for my visual-trivia column's return after a two-month hiatus, what better subject than the deathless British agent's various visual (re)incarnations? Over the last 60 years, 007's cover artists have taken full advantage of their license to depict. Do you know which Ian Fleming novels are interpreted in the cover illustrations below?

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Thursday, June 07

 

Wednesday, February 08

The Trivial Eye: Book Jackets of the 20th Century

by Jason Toon

The 20th century was lousy with wars, dictatorships, unrest, and anxiety - but how about those books, huh? All that turmoil (plus mass literacy and ever-cheaper printing) made for a spectacular outpouring of literary expression, the depth and variety and power of which dwarfed all that had come before it. Can you identify these eight works published in the 1900's by these details taken from their first edition jackets?

Answers can be found by clicking here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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Monday, November 14

Book Report: The Gun

by Scott Lydon

We're kinda behind on this one, because it's already been praised by NPR and The Atlantic and The New York Times and pretty much everyone who enjoys non-fiction. But with our audience... well, we're on the web, and magazines and newspapers don't always get noticed in this digital age. So today Scott's going to tell you a little bit about The Gun by C. J. Chivers. If you don't feel like reading us, you can just check out this three minute video and get the idea:

 

 

The Gun is the history of the AK-47, and indirectly the story of the evolution of the machine gun. Short version: it's a really good book. Long version: we'll see you inside for Scott's review.

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Monday, September 19

Book Report: Chung Kuo

by Scott Lydon

If you're already familiar with David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, you might be happy to know it's beginning again. Of course if you know the story, just skip a paragraph and hear the good news. But in case this is all new to you, let's recap: Chung Kuo was seven good books and one horrible book that followed an alternate sci-fi future where the China of tomorrow controls the globe.

At their best, the scope of the books rival Dune and the Foundation Trilogy. At their worst, the series fell victim to publisher demands which pretty much trashed Book Eight. But that's all back in the 90s, because what's important now how the author's doing something that possibly has never been done before: he's redoing the entire series from scratch, in e-book form, and making it even longer.

 

david wingrove

 

Come inside as Scott talks about the original eight book series and the new ongoing revision project. There's a chance Chung Kuo might be just the thing to hold you over till Game of Thrones comes back.

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Monday, September 12

Five Fascinating Font Facts From Simon Garfield's New Book, Just My Type

by Jason Toon

How big a type geek am I? Enough to have annoyed plenty of less-interested friends and relatives with unwanted discussions of typeface minutiae, but not enough to have ever tried seriously designing it. In other words, the ideal audience for Simon Garfield's new book Just My Type.

Less a comprehensive introduction to type theory and more a collection of type lore - think Font Appreciation, not Typography 101 - this engaging, witty little volume re-awakened my own fascination with the subject by telling the historic, cultural, artistic, and psychological stories behind the letterforms all around us. Here are five things I learned during my all-too-short journey through Just My Type.


Yes, the impeccably credible Trebuchet and the much-mocked Comic Sans were both designed by Microsoft typographic engineer Vincent Connare. Connare seems to have a sense of humor about being known as "the Comic Sans guy", but insists that his most notorious creation has its uses, if not necessarily on ambulances and tombstones. "If you love Comic Sans, you don't know much about typography," he tells Garfield. "If you hate it, you really don't know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby." But what does it mean if we love Trebuchet?...

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