Monday, 26 March 2018

Sleeping: I'm Just Not Good At It

Some people count imaginary sheep when they cannot fall to sleep.  Other people, like poet Ryan Buynak, make lists–lists of favourite songs, games, words or countries to visit, and on and on into the sleepless night.  In 2017, Buynak released a collection of his insomniac lists under the title Sleeping: I'm Just Not Good At It.  In the perfection of an imperfect life, I was given a signed copy of this book by a kind employee of the Chateau Versailles, my favourite boutique hotel in Montreal.  In the course of seven days I had two stints of insomnia that lasted more than 24-hours a piece. 

Buynak's book did not put me to sleep but it did make me laugh out loud on more than one occasion during my vacation.  One of my cherished personal maxims is to "take your work seriously but not yourself" so you can imagine my enjoyment of Buynak's flair for the irreverent. When I was going through the fine print of the inside first page–the place you would normally find copyright and credits–I read the usual statement about copyright but with an endearing addition, "But any part of this book can be used or burned for money."  Further down the page, I read "Author Shit-" followed by a notation for Buynak's blog, which is as well as his e-address.  This was a man after my own heart.

That impression was deepened when I next flipped to the inside back page and encountered a diagonal swath of bold type that proclaimed Proof, which I took to be an insider's jab at the convention of the author and editor's proof copies that predate final releases. 

Another of the conventions that Buynak defies, is the practice of numbering pages.  His lists are titled and have numbered entries but none of the pages of the book are numbered.  There is no sequence; I suspected that the poet wants to facilitate the random.  It is a flip book of mind candy.  Sure enough, I find tucked into the lists a Things to Know While Reading This Book list, entry "8.  There are no page numbers for a reason (entry) 9.  That reason is to encourage people to just pick up the book and flip to a random page".  There was also a phone number to call if you had any complaints–that was entry 6.  I didn't call, I just smiled bemused savouring the possible outcomes.

I did Google Ryan Buynak hoping to find out more about this quizzical creature.  When I visited his webpage I pulled up his bio.  Do you know what it said?  You guessed it, "Blah, blah, blah" for about three paragraphs worth.  Buynak does appear to have other titles out in print and works as designer.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Waterloo Library staff recommend books based on your tattoos

A photo of this tattoo was sent to the University of Waterloo library 
as part of a project to recommend books based on tattoos. - Courtesy of the University of Waterloo
This article from the local newspaper in Waterloo, Ontario was recently brought to my attention.  The paper is called The Record.  I know that many folks who share my fascination with tattoo culture would enjoy this so:
WATERLOO — Could your literary tastes literally be tattooed on your body?
The latest initiative undertaken by the University of Waterloo library suggests they could be.
For two months, a number of library staff members are volunteering to interpret tattoos belonging to members of the community by offering up a book recommendation from the Waterloo Reads collection. The collection consists of more than 600 books.
"We call it the Tattoo Tuesday task force and there are 10 individuals, nine of whom take turns conducting the readers advisory based off the tattoos," said Michael Myers, the 24-year-old library co-op student who came up with the idea. He was inspired by the Kitchener Public Library's recent campaign to collect stories behind tattoos.
Every Tuesday, images of the tattoos, along with the book recommendations, are posted to the UW library's Instagram account. At first, organizers didn't know what to expect from their social media audience.
"UW's pretty serious and we weren't sure what kind of response we'd get from the campus community, but it's been really positive," said Mary Lynne Bartlett, a library associate who oversees e-learning and user experience.
Since the library launched the program three weeks ago, it has posted about 15 book suggestions.
"We've been getting a really good response," said Myers, adding that the tattoo submissions just keep coming in. "We've had a couple of staff members as well as several from the student body. We even had some people from Wilfrid Laurier (University) submit tattoos."
To date, Myers' favourite submission is a delicate ink image of lavender.
"The tattoo itself is very beautiful," he said. "It looks like someone just pressed in a (piece of) lavender into someone's skin."
But he was even more impressed by the book recommendation — a graphic novel by Craig Thompson titled "Blankets." The social media post describes it as a coming of age story about love and loss.
"I actually haven't read that graphic novel, so I picked it up," he said.
And that's the goal of the initiative — to get more people reading.
All of the recommended books are available at the university's Dana Porter and Davis Centre libraries., Twitter: @BoothRecord