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Oversize Reading.

We are going to be closed for three days in a row. That’s right, Saturday, December 24th, Sunday, December 25th, and Monday, December 26th. I am already hearing from patrons that they are picking up extra books, movies, magazines, and cds this week in order to make it through our three days of closure. I encourage you to do the same.

At this time of year I often remember a mother who used to come in just before Christmas every year to take home a pile of oversized books. She would check out 30 or 40 of these big art books, and it became not only her family tradition, but also a library tradition to help her find the perfect books. During the holidays this family would all sit around and share the beauty of these magnificent titles. I imagine her children are all grown now, but I still think of her trying to pick out the most interesting of our oversize books.

As a matter of fact I’ve got a cart of big oversize books next to me right now that I imagine would have been perfect for them. A gorgeous volume called Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement by Kevin W. Tucker full of lush photographs of Stickley furniture, including lamps, and even clocks. Also on this cart is volume 5 of John Singer Sargent: Complete Paintings, which includes figures and landscapes from 1883-1899. Or perhaps they would have liked to try out a volume called de Kooning: a retrospective, which accompanied a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

But this family wouldn’t check out only art books, any interesting big book would do. So maybe they would have picked up Explorers: great tales of adventure and endurance by the Royal Geographical Society and published by the Smithsonian Institution and DK … both publishers who know quite a bit about illustrating books. Another title I might have mentioned to them is called Where We Work: creative office spaces by Ian McCallam, which is full of offices that look like they come from fairy tales. The book showcases “the interior design of forty-five of the world’s most inspiring work environments from internationally acclaimed and recognized agencies with the advertising, media, and design industry.” How would you like to work in an office that is designed as a carnival so as to “make the workplace full of challenge, innovation, freedom, and happiness, which can inspire people in their creative work.” (see page 152).

And to add a little frivolity to the task at hand of carrying home all those heavy over-sized books, they might want to add one of the oversize comic collections that we have recently added. Maybe Archie: a celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers by Craig Yoe, or Al Capp’s Li’l Abner: complete daily & Sunday comics, 1937-1938, or maybe even Pogo Volume 1, Through the Wild Blue Wonder: the complete syndicated comic strips by Walt Kelly. More interested in movies?  How about the large volume called Scorsese on Scorsese by Michael Henry Wilson, which covers Scorsese’s career from 1963 to 2010. There is also a lovely over-sized science book called Over the Coasts: an aerial view of geology by Michael Collier which is filled with spectacular aerial photographs of the earth. (He also did a volume called Over the Mountains.) My final choice for them would be: Arts & Crafts of the Native American Tribes by Michael Johnson and Bill Yenne, published by Firefly Books … another publisher that really knows how to use graphics to make scholarly topics come alive. You can find any of these books on the new book shelves right now.

Give it a try this year, maybe you too would enjoy just turning the pages of big paper books after all the presents have been opened and the food has been eaten. There is nothing quite like the joys of paper books, no batteries needed, no buttons to push, no wireless connection essential, and you can even read by candle light for a moment of quiet in the hubbub of the season.

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