Playlist 22 -- Two Great Books

I was sick this past week, which meant nothing got done around the house. I was working, transporting the kids where they had to go, and, otherwise, in bed. It did allow me plenty of time to read. And I finished these two very different books that I highly recommend.

The Learners. Chip Kidd.
I don't know what small advertising offices in the early 1960s were like, but I sure hope they were as Kidd described in The Learners -- filled with people named Sketch, Tip and Happy; the owner's dog running around loose; discussions of the relative merits of potato chips and shoes; and days capped with drinks at the local watering hole.
This Penn State grad should know. He's a graphic designer himself. If you only know one graphic designer, it's probably Kidd. USA Today once called him the "closest thing to a rock star" in graphic design. He's done the jacket for books by Cormac McCarthy, John Updike and David Sedaris as well as numerous comic books.
The Jurassic Park book cover?
That was his.
Kidd uses his design knowledge, filling The Learners with discussions on typography and essays on for
m vs. content. In one section, he describes over two pages how he created an ad that had a ton of information, but could only be an eighth of a page. Or when he uses the words "forgive me" and shows how it can be read different ways based on the font used.
Kidd has a real knack for comedy (just check out his You Tube trailer) and The Learners rolls on at a fun, fast pace until Stanley Milgram enters the picture. Milgram, the subject of our Weekly Wikipedia link, was conducting his infamous experiments in New Haven, site of the advertising firm. M
ilgram and his experiments play a crucial role in the last half of The Learners.
You can read an excerpt of the book here.
And you'll f
ind Kidd's blog/Web site here.

People of the Book. Geraldine Brooks.
I was completely transfixed by Brooks' novel, both by the scope of what she covered and the incredible detail and emotion that filled each section.

People opens in Sarajevo as Hannah, a rare book expert, is analyzing a long-lost Haggadah, a beautiful Hebrew manuscript created in the 15th century. Hannah's intense study of the book reveals what sounds like a witch recipe -- a tiny insect wing, a dash of wine, salt crystals and a white hair. These pieces of evidence help her unlock some of the mysterious history of the book.

Brooks takes us through that history -- Vienna in 1894, Venice in 1609, Tarragon in 1492 -- detailing the books' travels over six centuries, and those whose lives were intertwined with it. Brooks, who won a Pulitzer for March, has written a heavily-researched book of epic proportions, tackling weighty subjects as politics and the ever-changing relationship between the world's big three religions. Yet it's the personal lives of the individuals -- the people of the book -- that drive this very human story.

What I've been listening to this past week ...
-- Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges. MMJ released the title track to their upcoming new CD to fans/bloggers this past week and it's something. Want to hear it? Check out Pop Headwound.

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