Monday, May 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW : "Existence" by David Brin

Click HERE to see/buy the book on Amazon.

     This book is a treasure-trove of ideas! It's set hundreds of years in the future, when humanity experiences "first contact." But of course it's not what anyone is expecting, and there are revelations and hoaxes and twists galore. 
     The scope of the book is so huge and complex it's hard to summarize it, but one of the major themes is trying to figure out and avoid the many possible fatal pitfalls of advanced civilization. One idea I found VERY interesting is that many people (politicians and extremists on both sides of the spectrum) become addicted to self-righteous indignation, which keeps them from rational discourse. And our society tends to just feed into that and make it worse, rather than realizing an addiction for what it is: the enemy of a mature and rational society.
     This is the kind of book you sort of wish everyone HAD to read because there are a lot of clever and "important" concerns and ideas. I love the idea that diversity is vital to the survival of a species, that it brings "hybrid vigor." 
     I swear this book is very entertaining, too! Not just concepts and causes. There's a lot of great artificial intelligence stuff, genetically-engineered smart dolphins, extreme future sports, virtual reality Matrix-type mind trips, etc. Lots of adventure! Hopefully humankind won't self-destruct in any of the creative and plausible ways detailed in this book, but instead survive and thrive. 
     The ultimate message of the book is very hopeful and enlightening.

NOTE: Existence is slated for a June 19th, 2012 release. I was lucky to get an advance e-copy for review through NetGalley.

Friday, May 25, 2012

LIBRARY PRODUCT OF THE DAY : Demco Clear Book Pockets

The picture from Demco's online catalog
     Discovering these clear book pockets was like a revelation. Typically, the book pocket goes on the front inside cover of a book, but what if there's a MAP there, or some other really cool thing that you don't want to cover up?! How do you deal? Even if it's just a list of the rest of the books by that author, someone might want to KNOW that. It might be IMPORTANT.
     Normally I put the pocket on the back of the following page, but then there's always the worry that some other well-meaning library worker will come along and think there is no pocket, and possibly apply a new one OVER whatever the cool visual thing on the endpapers is. This is not acceptable. It would ruin EVERYTHING. You don't want to ruin everything, do you?
     The solution I had come up with before the life-changing discovery of clear book pockets was to place a label on the front inside page noting that the pocket was on the FOLLOWING page. This is not ideal, but at least it's better than covering up awesome endpapers, such as you find inside Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan" series.
(Ugly white label reads: "NOTE: card pocket on next page")

     But now that I have the clear pockets, I can breathe easy, knowing that on a book like Sy Montgomery's biography of Temple Grandin, the book pocket can be exactly where it needs to be AND not obscure Temple's totally rad map.
Where's the card pocket? I assure you, it is there...

See? I told you.

     In case you are interested, here's the link to the product page on Demco's website: