Discuss: Awesome Literary Things


Exquisite Libraries

Once again, I am assuming that we’re all book lovers here. Am I correct in that assumption? Excellent, then we shall press on. Are you feeling tired already and it’s only Tuesday? Are you freezing in the middle of this Polar Vortex? We here at the Jet Fuel blog understand you, and we’d like to offer you something cozy and simple on this Tuesday morning. After all, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from serious-ish, advice type posts and just look at some pretty pictures of libraries. In that vein, I bring you exquisite libraries around the world, courtesy of the CNN website.

There are large, opulent libraries with lots of gold embellishment on the shelves on this list. There is also the ancient library in the Haeinsa Temple in South Korea. It’s interesting to see the contrast between the truly grandiose libraries, and the libraries that are far more subdued. It might be said that the two kinds of libraries are completely equal, despite their difference in decoration. When it comes down to it, libraries exist to catalog and dispense knowledge. It doesn’t matter what they look like, as long as they house the annals of knowledge. All that being said, it is quite nice to look at these exquisite libraries, don’t you think?

My favorite library on the list has to be the Merton College Library in Oxford, UK (pictured above). It seems to be the perfect mixture of grandiosity and coziness. There are some lovely decorative windows, but it seems to be mostly made of wood. It’s the library that I could most see myself studying in.

Which library do you like best? Which one would you transplant into your home, if that was possible? Share in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Awesome Literary Things

http://fancy.com/things/ 313511685782505865/Classic-Book-Stair-Decals

Classic Book Stair Decals

There are many ways to create a bookish environment in your home. As I’ve posted about before, there are hidden bookcase doors, endlessly different layouts for book nooks, and character-themed decorations. Yes, you could find just about anything book-related in the way of home decor. Today we add Book Stair Decals to that list! Originally found through Boing Boing and available for purchase on the Fancy website, these decals would be a really awesome way to decorate a staircase.

The decals all have the titles of classic books on them and the style is drawn from the Penguin clothbound classics series, which has really beautiful designs on the covers of their classic titles. Just imagine walking upstairs and passing by the titles of your favorite classics as you go. I think these are so lovely and would add a bit of bookishness to any home. If you’re a bookworm and are looking for another way to put that part of yourself on display in your home, check these out!

What are some book-related home decor items that you know of? Share them in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Awesome Literary Things


Unique Libraries

This week for our Awesome Literary Thing, we start at the place where I’m guessing most of you started noticing awesome literary things: the library! Though I had lots of books to read at home as a youngster, the library is where I expanded my base of reading material and started reading outside my comfort zone. Aside from offering new and interesting books, libraries can also offer reading programs for kids, activities for teens, and book clubs for adults. But have you ever seen a library in the shape of an army tank? I’m guessing no.

The army tank library and so many others are featured in this post on the Open Education Database website. There are some really wild ideas here, like a temporary library art installation in an ancient abandoned Turkish Bath, a treehouse library, and a dollhouse library. Not all of these are actually usable of course — like the dollhouse library — but they still look really awesome.

I was thinking about libraries this past weekend because my tiny, local library just had some renovations done. I haven’t had a chance to go inside and explore the new floor plan, but from the outside it looks like a lot of space was added. More room for more books! But my little local library leaves much to be desired. If I had my way, I think I’d like to have that treehouse library…

What would be in your ideal library? If you could have a truly outrageous library, what would it look like? Share in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Readers & Their Books


Hello, blog readers! Once again, I must make an assumption about all of you. I’m guessing that you’re all pretty big readers. Why else would you be following the blog of a literary journal, right? Anyway, if you’re a reader then chances are you have a certain kind of relationship with the books that you read — both the stories within them and the physical books themselves. There are people who dog ear pages and there are people who consider that to be a cardinal sin. There are people who organize books by author and there are people who arrange them by jacket color. Books are a pretty serious thing for some people, but just what level of serious are you at with your books?

A recent blog post on Book Riot outlined The 4 Kinds of Relationships Readers Have with Books and I thought that would be an interesting and fun topic to discuss. In their article, Book Riot mentions people who are too busy socializing to read too much into the grand catalog of written works that exist in the world. There are people who have planned what they’re reading next…and probably what they’re reading after that, too. There are people who know their book tastes and don’t deviate much from those books. And then there are people who start and stop books willy-nilly.

Out of these types, I think I’m probably closest to what Book Riot calls the ‘Serial Monogamist.’ I do tend to jump from one book to the next when I’ve finished and I do always know what I’m reading next. I can’t imagine having an empty nightstand or having even one day without reading material. However, I will sometimes give up on books. There are some books that I never should have started, and I’m not afraid to put them down when they don’t suit my tastes.

So, where do you fall on the spectrum of Book Relationships? Read up on them at Book Riot and leave your thoughts in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Shelving Techniques


So, I’m guessing that we all have some bookshelves in our rooms, right? And I’m also guessing that these shelves are pretty important to you. I know that my two shelves are my favorite things about my room. They’re basically where I keep some of my greatest memories and inspiration. But how is everything organized? We’ve talked on the blog before about what your stacks of books might say about you, but what about your bookshelves? I’ve seen lots of photos of different organization techniques — organizing by author, by color, by series, or totally random. They all have their merits, of course. But which one do you prescribe to?

I got to thinking about shelving techniques when I saw this Book Riot post about a couple of who shelved their books in a way that would only make sense to them. They were merging their book collections after moving in together and decided to create their own shelving system. My favorite shelf of theirs is the “Middle-Aged White Guy Problems” shelf that includes, naturally, Jonathan Franzen’s novels. There’s something so awesome about this shelving technique. It’s almost as though a code has been created on their bookshelf. Whenever visitors peruse these shelves, they’ll ponder to themselves what the order and organization might mean. But they can never possibly know. How neat!

To speak for myself, I don’t really have a shelving technique. One of my shelves houses books mainly from my childhood and teens, and the other one houses all recent book purchases. The Harry Potter series and its affiliate books have their own shelf entirely. When I got my second bookshelf, I began to run out of room rather quickly. So I tried something new — stacking books horizontally and fitting them together like puzzle pieces. I quite like the effect that this has created and it does offer more space for the fruits of future book-buying sprees.

What do your shelves look like? Do you have a special system for organizing your books? Share it in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Comfort Reading


Okay, picture this. You’ve woken up in the middle of the night and your phone tells you it’s 2:00 am. Try as you might, you cannot get back to sleep. You know you have school, or work, or something else important the next day. Nightmare scenario, right? At least, it is for me. But you know that one book can calm you down and lull you back to sleep…which book do you reach for?

Last week, Book Riot posted an article about comfort reading and that got me thinking about this scenario. The article talks about the positively horrific news week we had with the Boston bombings and the subsequent media flurry around the capture of the culprits. I certainly know what they mean — after all that disturbing and frightening news, I felt like I wanted to disappear into a fictional world for a while. After all, one of the reasons you and I love to read (if you’re reading this, I assume you also love to read) so much is certainly escapism. To be somewhere else for a while and not have to think about the real world is a lovely, tantalizing option.

So, what is my 2 am book? That’s easy. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. That book can make me feel at ease no matter what’s going on. In fact, when my dad needed an operation this past winter, that’s the book I brought to distract me while we waited in the hospital. Not only is the Harry Potter world my favorite fictional world of all time, I feel like I can jump into that first book in the series at any time and just let go. As soon as I start to read it, I’m back in that world and it seems like nothing can go wrong.

What is your 2 am book? Or, if that scenario doesn’t float your boat, what is your comfort reading? What is the book — or book series — that will never fail to make you feel better in stressful times? Share it in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Bookstore Love


For most of my teenage years, Borders was my favorite bookstore of all time. This is where I attended the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and it’s where all of my birthday money went as soon as it came to me. My local Borders happened to be situated right across the street from a Barnes & Noble. Location, location, location — right? I was fiercely loyal to Borders, saying that it had a cozier feel inside and that Barnes & Noble was a cold, distant store. But then I started to get older and I saw the appeal of Barnes & Noble…especially the neat, large windows of the second story in my particular Barnes & Noble. I started going there more for my bookish needs and before I knew it, I heard the news that Borders was closing its doors for good. The competition, clearly, was just too much for them.

Bookstore loyalties are something you naturally develop when you’re a bibliophile. Bookstores become like a second home to some of us, a place where shelves upon shelves of reading material is housed. They are a comfortable environment in which we can huddle amongst our friends, the books, and browse for as long as we like. I started thinking about my own bookstore loyalties, and bookstore loyalties in general, when I read the Book Riot blog post, Why Do We Love the Bookstores We Love? In this post, the author expounds on all of her “Powell’s feelings,” and how her real favorite bookstore is Brookline Booksmith in Boston.

These days, my bookstore loyalties float around from place to place as I find better and better deals. My usual haunt is my local Half Price Books because of this one corner of the store where they keep all the books that are priced from $1 to $3. A-maz-ing. But I also recently made a trip to Frugal Muse and discovered how amazing its collection is. I found some books there that I’ve been seeking for a while now, so that certainly earns it some points…

Where do your bookstore loyalties lie? Do you think that bookstore loyalties are a thing that all bibliophiles harbor? Let us know in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Amazon & Goodreads


For those of you who don’t know, Goodreads is a social networking site for the bibliophiles amongst us. The site allows users to chronicle their book collections and what they’re reading at the moment, and share that information with their friends. If they are so inclined, users can update their profile to let friends know which page they’re on in their current read. And when they’ve finished that book, they have the option of writing up a review of the book, however long or short they’d like.

I am a fan of Goodreads. I found the site about three years ago and have been an active member ever since. I keep track of the books I’m reading and where I am in those books, page-wise. I do leave reviews or brief comments when I’ve finished a book, and sometimes I even link to my book blog if I’ve reviewed the book there. Whenever I buy a new book, one of the first things I do with it is add it to my “shelves” on Goodreads. I like to think of it as my own little cataloguing system. It’s a way for me to keep track of all my physical books. Suffice it to say, Goodreads has been a part of my life for the past couple of years.

So, I was a bit surprised to hear the news when Amazon acquired Goodreads a couple of weeks ago. The reason for this acquisition is purely business-based. The industry model has changed so that word of mouth recommendations of books matters much more than those silly “if you liked x, then you will like y” recommendations that show up on Amazon when you buy a book. I’ve heard from many people that they are more likely to read a book recommended or reviewed by a friend (even a friend who is only online) than one reviewed by more traditional critics. It seems that Amazon is hoping to get an “in” with this new bookish online world that they haven’t yet been able to penetrate, in the hopes that they can up their sales as a result.

That makes sense to me. From an objective, business point of view, it makes sense. The question I still have is this: what will Amazon do to Goodreads? Will the site now be riddled with ads sponsored by Amazon? Will Amazon try to steer conversations already taking place in their favor? What impact will this business decision have on my Goodreads experience?

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan