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Phone Box Libraries
On a ride this weekend I finally got to see one of the fabled Phone Box Libraries. Classic, but now obsolete, red phone boxes are being converted into small independent libraries for communities lacking in a such a facility. In this case of this one in Gawcott, Buckinghamshire, it’s a book swap.
From Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm, you can bring a book and and swap it for another. The cynic in me expected it to be trashed, but it’s obvious the locals respect and use it. I love how it keeps these beautiful pieces of iron architecture in use!
Behind the Sofa
Attention Whovians, there is a new book out that you need to buy forthwith! Behind the Sofa is a compilation of celebrity memories of Doctor Who, compiled by Steve Berry in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
I always had a sneaking suspicion that everyone in the world loves Doctor Who. Now I have proof! If I could get all the famous names who contributed to this book into one room, it would be the maddest Doctor Who party ever. Until then, their favourite memories of the programme are preserved for all to see. Plus, everyone who buys a copy will be helping to give hope to the 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia today
You might think a book of ‘celebrity reminiscences’ about Dr Who had the potential to be a fairly dull read but its anything but. The celebrities chosen go beyond just the standard ‘I was scared by the maggots in Green Death’ to give actual insight or funny anecdotes with varied viewpoints. Its a heartwarming trip though the varied ways that fans have experienced Who, and its made with love. All of this is topped off with excellent illustrations from Ben Morris, who can capture classic and ‘New Who’ with equal dexter. I also got a warm glow from having my name in the investors page :)
If you do decide to purchase”, please buy from the publisher (rather than a certain online retailer), so that more money goes to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
20% off all Five Simple Steps books!
This is a great opportunity to add more colour to your bookshelf with 20% off all Five Simple Steps books throughout July. Not only my own Icon Handbook, but also my current favourite Designing the Invisible by Robert Mills, and Andy Clarke’s labour of love Hardboiled Web Design. Then again, I can’t single out those when there’s Brian Suda’s Designing with Data and Mark Boultons classic Designing for the Web.
If you’re missing these titles in your library, now is your chance to see why I approached them to publish my book!
Ten years of Threadless
If you’re looking for something to give you inspiration, not just visually, but on a business level too, this is the book you need to buy:
It’s not often I get so excited about a book (the last one was Jon Burgermans Pens are my friends) but “I’m all over this” as the young people like to say. Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World’s Most Inspiring Online Design Community could’ve just been a published collection of illustrations from Threadless shirts, and still would’ve been a must-buy. The variety and quality of Threadless designs are stunning, and I’ve always touted them as an inspiration source in talks like “How to be a Creative Sponge”.
It goes much further than that though. The book is lavishly designed by A-Side Studios, and covers the story of how Threadless grew – a backstory I wasn’t aware of. It’s a fantastic read. It also serves as a kind of family album – nostalgically looking back on t-shirts I once owned (but wore until they finally went to t-heaven).
Oddly, my favourite Threadless T of all time (Darkside of the Garden) doesn’t feature! Harumph! Anyway, I won’t hold it against them – there’s too much to love in this, and it’s staying on my desk!
Designing for the Web
Ever feel that the web design market is over-saturated by books, both coffee-table and technical? There’s too much choice, and “What books would you recommend?” is the top (non cheese related) question I get asked. Depending on the topic required, there are various degrees of ‘hmmm well…you could try…” that’s replied.
This is where Mark Boulton’s new PDF book A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web comes in. I’ve been watching the previews on Flickr and now that I’ve actually had the chance to read the full book, I can declare it a triumph. It doesn’t feel preachy or stodgy, or conversely, too light and insubstantial. Mark’s tone strikes the right balance, and is engaging from the start.
To those who don’t know, I’m not a trained designer – my background is firmly in illustration. As part of my 5 years studying illustration, we covered some graphic design, but it was about 20% or less of the curriculum. Since leaving college, and getting my first job as a Junior Designer for Coventry City Council, I’ve been ‘picking up’ the elements of design ever since, but have never had the benefit of formal training.
For me, this book is the equivalent of ‘Zeldmans Orange book’, taking those bits and pieces I’ve learnt over the years and filling in the gaps, finally creating an overall understanding.
However, it doesn’t just cover design theory, as practical business advice is given to complete the picture. Something that I’m sure all those people who ask me for recommendations will love.
It’s left me wanting the physical book, which if I have understood correctly, is on the cards. Yippee!
Penguin H.G Wells
Thanks to Richard for pointing me toward these new covers for Penguin H.G Wells classics. Penguin have a habit re-issuing books with well-thought out covers (like the recent James Bond series). These are my favourites so far though.
The House of Books has no Windows
The Gallery of Modern Art in Oxford has this fantastic installation, “The House of Books has no Windows”. A collaboration between Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, it’s constructed from 5000 books. Sadly, I only had my iPhone with me, so the pics aren’t great:
Truly a book sniffers delight. You can see more of the exhibition and the artists on the BBC Culture Show site.
The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Every now and again, you come across an artist so fresh and exciting, you can’t help but evangelise others about them. One such discovery is Oliver Jeffers, a surpremely talented illustrator who uses realia as the basis for much of his work. Leigh had picked up his book The Incredible Book Eating Boy, and we looked on in awe.
Take a look at these spreads, where you can see how the pages started off as books folded out flat, and then painted on top of:
As a nice touch the back half of the book has the bottom left corner pre-bitten:
Be sure to have butchers at his portfolio and sketchbooks, and the book his highly recommended, whether you have children or not!
Blinded by the Northern Lights
In general, I don’t ‘do’ books. Over the last few years, my reading has dwindled to an embarrassing one-per-year, apart from a holiday in Rhodes in which I managed to get through a grand total of three.
The type that I have managed to read, tend to be “humourous travel writing” – Round Ireland with a Fridge, McCarthy’s Bar, Are you Dave Gorman?, Join Me, that sort of thing.
I’ve just finished reading the wife’s copy of The Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman (in just 2 weeks – a personal record!), and I’m absolutely blown away. I’ve not felt so excited about fiction in a long, long time, and I’ve certainly not had that ‘can’t put this down’ feeling before (I also have this unexplainable thing about airships in stories, which was why I read Michael Moorcock’s ‘Oswald Bastable’ Trilogy -but that’s another story). That insatiable need to find somewhere quiet to read just another few pages has never been so stong.
What makes these books really ‘live’ for me is that Lyra’s story is based in Oxford (just down the road from me), at an imaginary Jordan College. The description of the city makes me feel right at home, and I can see the places Pullman describes, and suspend my disbelief that alternative universes actually exist.
Now I just hope that others share my enthusiasm, and that haven’t just made an arse of myself.
Andy Budd’s Blogography is definitely worth a visit. A real pleasure to read, combined with clean, slick design and some beautiful photographs. He was recently linked to by Zeldman but it was through a link on Jeremy Keith’s Journal that I found him. (BTW: Since that Zeldman link, I’ve been getting so many offers from Nigerian businessmen, willing to just give me huge sums of cash in dollars. Fantastic! Looks like I’m not the only one)
Another regular has been Dan Benjamin’s Hivelogic Narrative. I’m about to use Dan’s ‘Image Rotator’ php script on my navbar background, now that I realised it works in CSS (background-image property) as well as normal HTML code. Hurrah!
Book-wise I’m about to start ‘Join Me‘ by Danny Wallace.
Anyway, I’m off now on a much needed 2 week holiday. In the meantime, here’s a little light music…
that bloke with the beard and wooly hat
..talks my kinda talk. My copy of ‘designing with web standards’ finally arrived today – and I am one happy boy.