As a kid, I struggled with any subject that required memorization. As an adult, I found out that there are specific techniques to make memorizing things much easier. I was glad to master a new skill. BUT WHY DID NOBODY TEACH ME THIS STUFF SOONER? It would have made school so much easier! I’m a former contributor to The Onion, and I’ve written for The New Yorker, the BBC, and HBO, and I’m a big believer in Beverly Cleary’s advice: “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelves, write it.” So, I wrote the book I wish I could have read at age 12. It’s a funny, kid-friendly guide to remembering… well, everything. [more inside]
A Book Of Beasts contains illustrations of 62 strange beasts, creatures, and other things of interest, with descriptive passages to tell you everything they are.
A couple of years ago I made a free 8-week writing course in podcast form. Starting from Jan 1st I'm releasing a new, bigger version called The 100 Day Writing Challenge. [more inside]
I've started to read many of the books and articles covered by the New York Review of Books. I'd like to hear the thoughts and reactions of other active readers to these works. [more inside]
Thanks to AskMeFi I put a bowl of fruit on it and sold a piano on Craigslist. The buyer ended up composing an amazing song with it for my podcast. After 28 episodes of Man Afraid of Everything (from hailing a taxi to doing improv for a year) I’m excited to share this new workbook inspired by the show. Write, draw, and trash your way through a series of challenges designed to expand your comfort zone. [more inside]
This is a longish (~4,000 words) essay about why people still go back to Tom Clancy's books, how they're both toxic and really relevant to American life in 2019, and how Clancy wrote the purest distillation of the World of the Boomer Dads. I swear it's also a lot more fun to read than this makes it sound.
The Library of Congress contains vast troves of digital resources. LOC Serendipity is a website that simulates the experience of exploring a library and skimming eye-catching or interesting titles. From books like, "Dainty dishes for slender incomes," which contains a delicious recipe for beignets, to the oddball early-1800's "Memoirs of the notorious Stephen Burroughs of New Hampshire" to "The forgotten book," published in 2018, this tool enables serendipitous and deeply engaging discovery every day. [more inside]
An Escape is a short illustrated dystopian fiction story, told obliquely through a series of 15 interconnected (mostly) single-page vignettes.
I thought, "Oh, I will try to write something super commercial, something that will sell like hotcakes because it's a popular genre that lots of people love." The result of my effort has been described as like the John Waters version of the Regency era. It may never be really popular, but if you like your historical novels with fewer bonnets and balls, but brimming with disease, garbage, cadavers and suicide attempts, these might be up your alley. Oh yes, most of them are comedies, by the bye. [more inside]
I made a free 8-week fiction writing course in podcast form. [more inside]
I'm a clinical psychologist and I've written a book called Finishing School: overcoming work blocks to get your projects done and into the world. [more inside]
It is with the greatest pleasure that I share with you Radical Technologies, the book referred to here, and for so much of which I'm indebted to conversations that have happened here. [more inside]
This is a little light for a projects post, but I'm working on organizing some online book clubs. I was thinking people here might be interested in joining one!
I posted my comic strip here a couple years ago when I began it—now that it's finished, I've compiled the strips into a book anthology. [more inside]
Reading for Change! April 2nd event will be online, everywhere. [more inside]
2015 marked the 800th anniversary of the first Magna Carta, and Liberty Tales is a collection of stories and poems that take a wide-ranging collection of responses to the issues of liberty, both personal and legal. Some of these 25 tales relate to specific clauses of the original document, while others are more concerned with how we experience and search after freedom in the 21st century. [more inside]
I've been making some videos about science and books. They're not reviews of science books, but more discussions of things related to how science and scientists are presented in books. For example, in what I retroactively called "season 1" I looked at parody science books. I'm now in "season 2", where there'll be a new episode every two weeks until the end of the year. The first one of the season involved a bookshop tour to discuss different types of non-fiction books, and the next one (November 3) will be about how the representation of scientists in fiction has changed over the years. Specifically: how and why is Frankenstein different from The Martian's Mark Watney?
I have bad taste in books, or books in bad taste, anyway. Boomtown Sinners is a gallery of front covers from my library. It mostly consists of paperbacks from the 1960s but encompasses a wide range of vulgar, tawdry, and kitschy books and magazines, as well as a small handful you could read in public without embarrassment. Decidedly NSFW with some nudity and lots of sordidness. [more inside]
Today's bestselling cookbooks can seem a little formulaic. The titles start to sound the same. The success of one book begets sequels, riffs and shameless wannabes. With such nakedly formulaic titles, couldn't you assemble a cookbook title by slapping together some diet buzzwords, food trends and publishing tropes? Why, yes you could!
Ever read a web page and think, "I would like to read a book about that – for free!" Well, if you live in the greater Boston area, you can highlight some text on a web page then click this one weird old button to get a relevant book. [more inside]
The Smoking Moon is an album by Toby Vok, with an accompanying science fiction novelisation by Ted Vaaak. All available for the great price of free (or more, if you so desire). [more inside]
An unhappy bride weeps beneath the moon on her wedding night. A priest who should know better leaves the safety of his church to follow a cat out into the city and see where it is it goes. A lonely girl sits at her window and wishes, just once, to go to the ball. And is that the devil on the road, waiting for you as you make your way home… The Unhappy Bride and other tales is a collection of contemporary fairy tales, in which you'll find Queens and Kings, wolves and cats, the devil himself, even the stars made flesh. You’ll find love here, too, so much love. And with it always sadness. [more inside]
ooovre helps people buy books online from local booksellers. The current site is a prototype that allows you to order any book from a local bookseller of your choice and then pick it up from their shop, often within 24-28 hours. We've just launched on Kickstarter to raise £30,000 to build the next version of the site with more powerful tools for local booksellers to sell online and roll out into the US, Canada and Australia. [more inside]
In this gorgeously illustrated, full-color graphic memoir, Stan Lee—comic book legend and co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other Marvel superheroes—shares his iconic legacy and the story of how modern comics came to be. (And I got to color it!) [more inside]
Conservative Book Title Generator. If the Ted Cruz-New York Times controversy has taught us anything, it's that (1) all books written by conservatives are bestsellers; and (2) all such books have pretty much indistinguishable titles.
Today's the launch date for The Annihilation Score, boot six in the Laundry Files. It's my big fat superhero novel. (The US launch date is Tuesday 7th, but it's available today in the UK, NZ, Australia, and the EU, from Orbit.)
My own humble contribution to the learn-to-program literature.
Every Sunday I'm posting about something I love. [more inside]
A blog version of two books of thrilling travel yarns by forgotten Edwardian adventurer Cecil Herbert Prodgers, set in Bolivia, Chile and Peru. I'm working through them in annotated entries of around 1000 words each; the first volume, Adventures in Bolivia, is over halfway through, with our man Cecil in the thick of the jungle and facing danger from pumas, jaguars, piranha and candiru. [more inside]
As part of Open Data Day DC, I began the Books for DC (aka 'booksfordc') project with the goal of increasing user engagement with the DC Public Library's many wonderful resources. Last month, I wrote a web scraper that publishes a Twitter feed of new additions to the DCPL book catalog. And I just released a Chrome browser extension that lets you know what books and ebooks are available at the DCPL when browsing Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes & Noble. [more inside]
What's happening at the intersection of literary culture and the internet? I've started a new bi-weekly blog series intended to address that topic and more. It's called "Litblog Roundup." [more inside]
My book on my mountain bike adventures is out on VeloPress. I was one of the "hippie daredevils" whose goofy hobby of modifying old bikes to race them downhill turned into the modern sport of mountain biking. This weekend I received a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal. Previous reviews, all overwhelmingly positive: Dirt Rag US Cycling Report Marin Independent Journal Pez Cycling News Winkbooks
Do Not Disturb The Dragon! is a picture book (an actual real physical book available in bookshops and everything, which is quite exciting, for me at least) about a dragon that really just wants to sleep and sleep and sleep some more, but everyone else seems to be determined to keep her awake. It’s quite funny, and exciting, and contains at least one picture of things being set on fire, which is everything you could ever want from a book about dragons, really. [more inside]
For the last few months I've been helping a group of Artists/Engineers/puppet makers called Rusty Squid to design, make and install the Book Hive in Bristol Central Library, UK. There's more info on MyModernMet. [more inside]
A collection of great first lines. Just launched this week. If you want to recommend a first line, please comment! Excited to share my first project with you, I've been an AskMeFi lurker for years.
My company Postertext designs art prints for book lovers made entirely out of text. There are no lines, no edges anywhere on the art print. The illustration is made purely out of words. [more inside]
One year, six months, eight days, 638 pages, 222,851 words, and 1,025,891 characters after I started writing it, my novel Gone Whalin’ is available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Previously on MeFi Projects I've shared my two collections of bad Wikipedia writing, but this is the book I'm most proud of. It's about a college student who starts waking up on a whaling ship every other day, the adventures he has at sea, and the scheming that goes on between his roommate and the dean of his school to exploit his situation while he's back in time. You can read the first three chapters and watch the book trailer here! [more inside]
You're The Expert is a live show and podcast that makes academic research fun and accessible through comedy. I appeared on a special episode taped at the Boston Book Festival in my capacity as a rare book and manuscript librarian at Harvard's Houghton Library. Also available from Stitcher or as a direct mp3 link.
I'm digitizing the covers of a significant portion of my children's book collection and posting them to my Flickr account. Among the items in that collection is a book shaped card game called Dr. Quack which is sort of like Mad Libs. I've parsed out the story and the accompanying cards into a twitter feed just for snicks and giggles. The rest of the books are typically either science books, textbooks, or early examples of cross media licensing based on comic strips, radio shows, TV shows, or movies. [more inside]
I've been meditating for over a decade, which isn't that long. But now I'm writing about everything I've learned, and I'm linking to all the books that got me to where I am.
A tabulation of book recommendations in the human relations and work & money categories. [more inside]
I just self-published an edition of the Psalms that my wife and I have been using for the last few months. It's the KJV text, divided into thirty days of Morning and Evening prayer and marked for antiphonal responsive reading. [more inside]
I just co-self-published my second collection of hilariously bad Wikipedia writing. It's over 200 of our favorite entries, with our own original commentary, plus a foreword by Mike Nelson of RiffTrax & MST3K! [more inside]
Recently, I've been using concordances of poems in my teaching and presenting, and have been surprised at the new poems that emerge from the rearranged works. I started a single-topic tumblr to document some of my favorites. [more inside]
Inspired by the Amazon/Goodreads deal (and advised by AskMe) I have decided to launch my own review site for books and any other media I feel like writing about. [more inside]
Our default display interface for digitized books and manuscripts uses frames (I know) and worked very poorly on mobile devices. We've just released an interface that autodetects visits from these devices and routes them to an alternative interface that is much more usable, and offers orientation awareness and gesture based page-turning and zooming . To try it, follow this link on your touchscreen device. Try it out, and please leave me any feedback you have about your experience.
Listen to a guy read his poetry to you by phone from a crowded bar in Chicago. Watch a 1960s educational film posing as a trailer for a poetry book. Welcome to Mission Cleaners Books.
Instead of trying and failing to write a novel in November I tried and failed to write the script for a children's book every day for the month. Please note: I cannot draw. [more inside]
Pen & Oink is a blog on children's illustration I started with two other illustrators. We'll have interviews, tutorials, and book features, among other posts. There's a lot of content about children's books, but we also plan to cover magazines, surface design, animation, and anything else with illustrated content for children.
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