Category Archives: books

what i talk about when i talk about running


now that summer is approaching and im not scared of stepping outside anymore, ive decided that i really need to get my shit together and start running again. to help me overcome this fear i have enlisted the best writer in the world haruki murakami.  his latest english translation is a series of journal entries as he prepares for various marathons in the US and around the world.


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first day back and the ridiculous reference questions still continue:

suntanned librarian (ST): hi xxxxx library how can I help you?
caller (C): yes, do you have a book about hobbies?’
ST: there are many hobbies, do you have any idea about what you are looking for?
C: no i don’t, which is why i want a book about hobbies?
ST: [simultaneously searching the library catalogue] i think it will be quite difficult to find a book on hobbies. what are you interested in?
C: i dont know. that’s why i want a book so i can see what I am interested in
ST: how about cooking? computers? gardening? knitting? [sex?, my colleague unhelpfully suggests] …
C: i really am not sure, that’s why I want a book
ST: the only book we have in our catalogue is called ‘how to turn your hobbies into a profitable business’, that’s not what you are looking for is it?
C: no…
ST: i think you need to come into the library and talk to us to get an idea about what you are interested in, we have books on every type of hobbies here, just not one book with a list of them all.
C: ok bye [hangs up]

ST: bloody hell that was a painful conversation


Filed under books, library

vacation reading recommendations

having recently returned from a couple of months hanging about in warm places, ive had the good fortune to read some stuff that i would not be caught dead being seen with in melbourne. 

[when you work at a public library, your borrowings are everybody’s business and everyone has the right to comment on them. like the time a while back i did some testing of the library management system book requests function and requested for myself a whole lot of self improvement books to see if they would be delivered to me.  the books were delivered to my office, several of them accompanied by notes from staff commenting on my choices…]

for the purposes of being a good librarian and being able to recommend new titles or genres to you, i have the following comments for these classic vacation authors that you could possibly never read because your reading tastes are too ‘highbrow’ for the likes of them:

jackie collins: the queen of chick lit.  over the top stuff that we love to read about such as shopping for diamond earrings and driving bmws and dating movie stars/gangsters who kill prostitutes for fun.  all the characters are totally unrealistic, but why on earth would you want to read anything in this genre about normal people anyway. you are on vacation to escape from your normal mundane life.

danielle steel: you dont need to study history if you read a couple of ds novels set across various world wars/national conflicts.  seriously, i think i know everything there  is to know about the russian revolution and the great depression now.

tom  clancy: just. dont. go. there.

james clavell: shogun, tai-pan, gai-jin, king rat…  orientalist sagas where the chicks are hot asian babes for western military men to rescue from their oppressive lives as prostitutes/concubines.  read in conjunction with danielle steel you get the his and hers versions of history.

of course there are many more, but these are the ones that i had the opportunity to read.

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Filed under books, travel

library in the new age

The never ending discourse about physical library v the internet generally bores me. However I found this article in the NY review of books to be quite informative, citing through the ages examples of distrust in the print medium such as this bit:

Le Courrier de l’Europe, a French newspaper produced in London, printed a translated digest of the English reports with a note warning that they probably were false. This version of the event passed through a dozen French papers produced in the Low Countries, the Rhineland, Switzerland, and France itself. By the time it arrived in Versailles, the news of Washington’s defeat had been completely discounted.

The writer also mentions that the smell of books is a reason why, according to research in France, people prefer print over electronic mediums. So some company over there has produced stickers that are stuck on computers and give off a “fusty/bookish” smell. 

Not sure if a scratch n sniff sticker that smells like a book would do it for me, though I have always been a fan of the orange/lemon/chocolate/blackcurrant flavours.

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do a google search for penguin deckchairs and check these out they rock. pefect for summer reading in the park.

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Filed under books, cool stuff that i need

good books can be judged by their covers


listen to this 5 min vodcast by some guy from Vintage who has done covers for the likes of  mcsweeneys and haruki murakami.

john gall’s 5 rules of book design

  1. read the book
  2. inspiration is everywhere
  3. be thrifty with fonts
  4. practice sound time management
  5. rules are meant to be broken

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audience questions to authors that make you roll your eyes at the person sitting next to you

as observed at a tim winton reading/book signing/QA last week.

  • do you sometimes feel that you don’t want to write?
  • do you have a set writing routine that you follow every day?
  • what do you use to write with (ie a pencil or a computer)?
  • how much of  [insert name of character in novel] is based on your own experience?

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