Bookish things

Bibliophibian shirt

The shirt one wears while floating in an ocean of books (via Wondermark)

I have an annual ritual of sorting through the to-read lists that spawn on every note-taking and bookmarking tool within my reach, and choosing fifty books to put on hold at the library to maintain the steady drip that feeds my reading addiction.

Or rather, it used to be an annual ritual. The last list of fifty took me two years to read. Leaving the office job eliminated not only the reading-devoted two-hour daily commute, but also the acute desire to escape into more interesting worlds.

Since resolving, a few years ago, to stop bingeing on entire oeuvres of newly discovered favorite authors and switch to a more balanced diet of fiction genres, non-fiction and classics, I’d started keeping notes of everything I’d read, which eventually turned into spreadsheets and… is this post getting too obsessive for general consumption? Want to see my pie charts?

Anyway, ahem… since I’m in the list-sorting phase now, I figured I’d share some stuff. Here’s a medley of bookish links:

My one unfailing source of book reviews and reliable recommendations. Expect to find the best new releases in science, technology, science fiction & comics here.

CoverSpyTOSince I usually peek at what people are reading in public anyway, I joined the new Toronto chapter of a shadowy book-lovin’ spy agency that reports on what people are reading in public places. You can follow us on Tumblr or Twitter. (There are also NYC, San Francisco and DC branches of CoverSpy which – depending on where you are of course – you may find more geographically appropriate.)

Goodreads is a book-centric social network. You share what you’re reading with your friends and get book recommendations based on “people who like this book also like these books” principle. It was bought by Amazon last spring, so you know they’re harvesting your data, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to be pushing sales. You can even set a library catalogue as your preferred place to get books when you discover new ones you want to read.

In the interests of science, I joined Goodreads and added everything I’ve read in the last five years, plus most of the books I own. (This took three days, btw – the sacrifices we make in search of better reading material.) It did recommend a bunch of books that look interesting, but, in the end, the main outcome of this exercise was to make me realize that the hundreds of books I’ve already read are just a tiny drop in the ocean of books I still want to read. If you’re on Goodreads, come friend me there, so we can float on the ocean of books together.

The Story of a Piece of Paper

Free PDF download

You can now download the story that I illustrated for my kids as a PDF.

I hope that you know a kid or two that you can share it with, and that they enjoy it as much as our girls did.

The download is available in English and Russian.

Edited to add: The Story of a Piece of Paper was featured on Boing Boing. As I have no words to express just how ridiculously thrilling this is, I present it here as a bare statement of fact.

 

 

Fragments of culture: awesome upcoming Toronto events

If I missed these because someone who cares didn’t tell me about them on their blog, I would cry. To spare you this fate, here are some fantastic cultural events happening in Toronto this fall, in order of decreasing urgency:

Doctorow sliding down a rope in a red capeThis week:

Cory Doctorow – Boing Boing editor, sci fi author, Internet rights activist, world-renowned defender of our digital freedom and xkcd superhero – is making a number of appearances in Toronto area this week, including a reading from his new YA novel at Oakville Public Library on Wednesday Sep. 26 and a book launch party at Bakka Phoenix Books on Thursday Sep. 27.

October:

International Festival of Authors is happening Oct.18-28 at the Harbourfront Centre with readings, interviews and round table events with over 100 international authors, including some very famous ones like Alice Munro and some very awesome ones like the fantasy and weird fiction author China Miéville.

November:

The spectacular punk cabaret musicians Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra are doing a show at Phoenix Concert Theatre on November 9th as part of the tour for their recently released Kickstarter-funded and much-lauded darkly pop & glamorously rock album Theatre is Evil. The world tour is sold out in most cities, but Toronto still has tickets. Expect a visually stunning high-energy show full of life, crowd participation, and probably toplessness.

These two videos are gorgeous and you should watch them. (Obligatory warnings: one is NSFW and the other is very bloody.)


Ongoing every Sunday till end of December:

The fantastic Queen St West blues & cabaret band Kevin Quain and the Mad Bastards, who’ve been playing Sunday nights at the Cameron House for the last seventeen years will be wrapping up this landmark Toronto gig at the end of December. Go see them there while you still can! There’ll be dark, soulful, smooth music as well as rousing barfly humour. Kevin Quain, in addition to his mastery of piano, accordion and guitar, is also likely to feature a black eye and play the musical saw.

How to set up a website, with thanks to the geeks who make it so easy

As a technophile who’s never had to put together a website before, when I set out to make this one in a week, I had a vague idea about some of the concepts involved and a strong sense of it being Not That Hard.

In such a situation, it helps to have an expert source to go to for advice and recommendation, so as to avoid a lot of research and second-guessing. My top trusted source for matters technical, creative and especially techno-creative is Boing Boing – a legendary site edited by makers, geeks, internet privacy activists, and all-around knowledgeable people.

The first step was to register a domain. I remembered that BB had some suggestions for domain registrars in a recent article, so I looked that up and went with Hover.

Having registered fragmentalist.com and feeling pretty pleased with myself for getting this far, it took me another day to wonder about the server on which the content of my website was going to live. Next step was to find hosting.

Looking around Hover’s site to confirm that they don’t provide hosting as well (some domain registrars do), I also completely missed their suggested hosts page.  Good thing that I did, because the host I ended up going with – found again through Boing Boing – was not on that list, and is one I’m now totally in love with.

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