is the euphemism that Kakaner and another friend helped me come up with for how I felt after I walked a fair distance under rather chilly conditions, only to find that the target of my latest and much-anticipated awesome-bookstore visit, Argosy Books (116 East 59th Street, New York, New York) was CLOSED.

Approaching the target (green banner spotted ahead):

And it is…

…CLOSED WHYYYYY. On top of having beautifully lit and presented displays out for me to stare at longingly through the bars, they even had a “New Year’s Sale!” prominently advertised. Well I can’t abuse my savings account on behalf of your sale if you’re CLOSED, can I?

So my visit to Argosy had to be put off to another time, but I did get to see some fun bookish things when my brother and I ducked into the New York Public Library to poke around.

Continue reading Roosterguarded

Additions to the horde

Since gifts inevitably and wonderfully mean new books. (Also, when it comes to books, I feel like there’s not that much of a difference between a horde and a hoard.)

Two pocket-sized, appropriately wintry, deliciously fully-cloth-bound-with-color-plate volumes of adorable. (Am I gushing too obviously? They really are that adorable, though.)

Neil Gaiman‘s Odd and the Frost Giants – didn’t even know it had finally been issued in a hardback edition! I spotted these for 50% off at Barnes and Nobles when snooping around with Kakaner and a couple of other friends, and predictably, both Kakaner and I ended up snagging copies.

Philip Pullman’s Once Upon a Time in the North – I love these little additions to the His Dark Materials universe. The actual story included in the last volume, Lyra’s Oxford, wasn’t too impressive (though it did hint at some awfully interesting sequel possibilities), but the presentation is impossible to resist – cloth binding, woodcut illustrations, fold-out maps and inserted postcards full of sneaky references for the HDM-obsessed… Books with personality and foldy-slidey bits, yes please.

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Bookstores of New York: Skyline Books

Skyline Books
13 West 18th Street, New York, New York
Date visited: 07.31.09

Just across the street from Books of Wonder is Skyline Books. We ducked in because a. it was raining and b. it was just across the street from Books of Wonder (duh).

It proved to be kind of dingy and smelled strongly of cat pee (the offending cat was later found under one of the bookshelves), but had some interesting stock and many knick-knacks. Kakaner and I both walked out with purchases.

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In Which Emera and Kakaner Try to Memorize Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, K

Once upon a time, Emera and Kakaner were high school students who shared roughly half their classes and more importantly, were badminton partners in gym.

I am writing to tell you all about a peculiar period of time in our senior year of high school during which we tried to memorize the hulking blaring entirety of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. Emera had read this first and strongly impressed upon me that if I did not read it soon, my very existence would dwindle and die away. In no time, we were both completely obsessed with JSMN and literarily worshipped its texts, and for a long time, could speak of nothing else. Reviews of JSMN will be forthcoming– it’s just that our current reviews are rather explosive and incoherent. JSMN also made it to our The Black Letters Top Books list, so you can understand what kind of literary entity we are dealing with here.

We were inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451. Although both of us had already read the book before being assigned to read it in AP English, the second time around, the concept of memorizing an entire book in secret really tickled our fancies. So, we conferred, and somehow decided that the 800-page JSMN was the obvious choice.

Continue reading In Which Emera and Kakaner Try to Memorize Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, K

Bookstores of New York: Books of Wonder

Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street, New York, New York
Date visited: 07.31.09

This past summer, Kakaner and I, plus another friend, went on a mini-tour of several independent bookstores in New York City. Chief among our destinations was Books of Wonder, which specializes in children’s and fantasy books, both new and collectible. I’d first seen some of their items at the New York Antiquities Book Fair in the spring, which is a subject for another entry, but I’d been enchanted even then by their gorgeous editions and collection of original cover art. Their actual location proved to be just as much fun.

My house will probably look like this one day.

Continue reading Bookstores of New York: Books of Wonder

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1921) K

Date Read: 12.27.08
Book From: Personal Collection
Reviewer: Kakaner


A look at the life of Benjamin Button who was born old and died young.


I have never been a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, my only experience having been The Great Gatsby. I feel horrible saying that I didn’t enjoy it in the least bit, although it certainly stands to argue that if I revisited it now with a slightly more mature eye, I would probably quite like it. Being the incredibly anal purist I am, after learning about the upcoming release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in theaters, I headed over to my local BN to read the short story first. I wasn’t blown away by the story, but it was so quaint, indirectly emotional, and beautiful that I ended up spending $13 on the somewhat overpriced newest edition with full-color illustrations.


Continue reading The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1921) K

Introducing Paige M. Gutenborg

Recently, the Harvard Book Store unveiled a machine that has been many years in the making… Paige M. Gutenborg!


For those of you unfamiliar with this, Paige M. Gutenborg is a book-making machine. Although I wasn’t present at the unveiling, I made sure to pack my camera when I stopped by a few days later. Here are some details from the webpage:

  • Prints books from a growing catalog of 3.6 million books, including titles from Google digital files and public domain databases—along with previously inaccessible works.
  • Creates a library-quality, perfect bound, acid-free 300-page paperback book in roughly four minutes. These books are indistinguishable from paperbacks produced by major publishing houses.
  • Represents a revolution in the book world, allowing readers to get their books in a manner that is fast, local, green, and affordable.
  • Can print your book and we can deliver it locally—same- or next day! We also deliver domestically and internationally.
  • Provides authors with affordable, flexible printing options. There are no minimums, and you retain full rights and complete control of your work.
  • Looks forward to printing your novel, personal cookbook, family genealogy, memoir, dissertation, personalized gift, and more.

Continue reading Introducing Paige M. Gutenborg

Isaac Marion Stash and a Story


By now, I’m sure you’ve seen Emera’s and my numerous reviews of Isaac Marion‘s works, namely The Inside, Warm Bodies, and Anna. These works are pretty much all highly recommended, and are self-published by Marion (links provided at the bottom of this post). Marion is noted for his strange genre niche that is, for the most part, a mix of horror, weird fiction, and romanticism.

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New books for August

In an effort to stave off our ridiculous acquisitions rates, Kakaner and I have undertaken a pact not to buy any more new books until… well, for as long as we can possibly restrain ourselves, and hopefully we’ve actually read the greater part of the books we’ve bought but haven’t yet read. But prior to that, I, of course, bought a lot of books this summer. Ahem. Here are some of the ones that I’m most excited about.

A 1905 (?) edition of Lafcadio Hearn’s  A Japanese Miscellany (originally published 1901) – I’ve been wanting to find a copy of his Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things for ages, with little luck given his relative obscurity. So I was astonished to see three beautiful, first-edition-or-nearly hardcovers of his works on a shelf at Skyline Books in New York City. No Kwaidan, but this seemed the next best thing. 1905 is pencilled in on the endpapers, but I suspect from this nifty index of Hearn’s work that I have the 1906 edition, which would make it second edition.

Continue reading New books for August

The Great Cambridge-Boston bookshop tour

In May of 2008, Kakaner and I undertook an epic walking tour of Cambridge and Boston bookshops – our goal was to walk from Central to Harvard Square and stop at every bookstore along the way, all in one morning and afternoon.

Our first stop was the Cambridge Salvation Army bookstore, where, if I recall correctly, Kakaner bought one paperback – but for the life of me I can’t recall what. The books were musty and disorganized, but the prices are incredible.

Continue reading The Great Cambridge-Boston bookshop tour