Save the Mills College Book Arts Program!

Please check out this link to learn more about this amazing program that is being threatened by shortsighted college administrators.

If you are a regular reader here, you will know how rare programs like the Mills College Book Arts are. Sign the petition and help them generate 5000+ signatures. Write the administration if you want to go the extra yard.

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Zane Grey and Me by Lisa Rappoport; Published by Littoral Press

Zane Grey 9I met Lisa Rappoport of Littoral Press at CODEX 2013, where I remember having a delightful chat with her about her books and other sundry things, bought a couple of raffle tickets (only because my daughter was with me…I never win those things), and went on my merry way in the book heaven that is CODEX. A few days later I got a note from Lisa that I had won, and I promptly received a Littoral Press book that is one of the treasures of my library. You can see that book here. After loving that book, I didn’t think twice when asked about reviewing the latest book from Lisa. Continue reading

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Where have I been? Blame it on tea…

I take pleasure in tea, appreciating it with my spirit and therefore cannot explain why. ~Sen Joo

Twitter LoC Logo BoldAh, yes. I’m very behind on my book reviews because I  have been very deep in my cups. Cups of tea, that is. I’ve just opened my own on-line (for now) tea shop that actually has lots of parallels to the books I review on The Whole Book Experience. Tea with people behind it, hand-crafted in small batches by artisans. Private, small press books; private, small garden teas. I’d love for you to check it out. My tea business is called Leaves of Cha…a riff off of one of my favorite all time books, an edition of which was recently reviewed here.

And, now that the store is open, you can expect to see some backlogged reviews showing up here shortly. Thanks for your support and your patience.


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Barbarian Press: The Curwen Project

Let me start by stating unequivocately that I love this press. Not only are the books from the Barbarian Press a source of wonder to me but the proprietors, Jan and Crispin, are simply delightful people that embody the “love of craft” and respect for the word that shines through the best private press books. I’ve been a subscriber since Venus and Adonis, I’ve had the joy of having a tour of the press and a cup of tea in their kitchen, and the pleasure of their conversation at a couple of CODEX’s.

They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk; living predominantly on the earnings from their small edition runs (usually less that 150 copies). When big projects come up, the outlay for materials in advance can be a burden. So for one of their most ambitious projects, they are going the Indiegogo fundraising route. A couple of years ago, they acquired the Curwen Press archives of Monotype ornaments and borders. This in and of itself was a huge financial effort, not the least of which was shipping all of that heavy type over from the U.K. Since then, the plan for Bordering on the Sublime: Ornamental Typography at the Curwen Press have rumbled along. I can’t wait to see this book.

I encourage you to check out their fundraiser here. If you can participate, that would be wonderful. But regardless, you will will be enriched and enthralled by the time you spend with the Barbarians.

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The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton; Published by the Arion Press

Age of Innocence 13Age of Innocence 2The Age of Innocence seems an appropriate title to begin my first fine press review by a women writer in almost two years. Since I reviewed Rachel Carson’s Undersea published by the Nawakum Press, I’ve reviewed fifteen other books by male writers. Until I researched and wrote my last post about women writers in fine press, I didn’t even think about my innocent neglect because I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I had very few options in my library to review here. So much for my age of innocence. Continue reading

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Women Writers in Fine Press

Book with slipcase

Orlando by Virginia Woolf; Arion Press

I’m a feminist. And I try very hard to be a good one as well as a consistent ally to the women in my life and around me. I watch my male privilege closely but oft times one can’t help but unconsciously or unknowingly support the patriarchy. Lately I’ve been wondering exactly how  women writers fare in the fine press world. After reading so many statistics over the years about how men get represented disproportionally to women in the publishing industry in general, I decided to embark on a year of reading women writers. In 2015, I will try my best to reverse my unconscious reading habits away from writers that identify as men. And if I run out of them, I will read non-English speaking writers, non-binary gendered writers, and writers of color, all of which are also published in surprisingly small numbers in the English-speaking world. Continue reading

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me, myself, and the monkeyface eel by Kirk Lombard; Published by The Prototype Press

Monkeyface 3Monkeyface 2I was really excited to get a chance to review the first publication of The Prototype Press. The Press is a joint collaboration between David Johnston and Mark Sarigianis based in Oakland, California. I’ve owned, seen, or reviewed many a book that these two have had a hand in, either in some of the publications of the Arion Press where both spent a good deal time sharpening their fine press skills, or through David’s interim work with his Sharp Teeth Press. You can see those reviews as well as the write-up of my tour of the Press by clicking on the Prototype Press or Sharp Teeth Press tags at the end of this review. Unlike many presses that stick to the safety of publishing established classics, The Prototype Press’ goal is to produce first editions works by local writers illustrated by local artists. They also aspire to the admirable goal of producing these books entirely in-house. Continue reading

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Roots to the Earth by Wendell Berry; Published by Larkspur Press

Roots to the Earth 13

What miraculous seed has he swallowed
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth…

This line from the poem The Man Born to Farming pretty much sums up how I feel about Wendell Berry. I’m a huge Berry fan; I love his non-fiction activist works, his poetry, and have recently become enamored with his fiction. I’m really pleased that he has a couple of private presses that are also fans so that some of his work gets the fine press treatment.Roots to the Earth 8 Continue reading

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A Tour of the Prototype Press

Prototype Press 3On my recent trip up to the San Francisco Bay area for CODEX, I had the pleasure of taking a short tour of the Prototype Press. The press is the imprint of David Johnston and Mark Sarigianis, both of whom spent some time at the Arion Press. David had started Sharp Teeth Press back in 2012 before teaming up with Mark, and had produced some nice books on his own . I reviewed three of his books on this blog: Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, Why Beer Matters by Evan Rail, and Kurt Vonnegut’s 2BR02B. Continue reading

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Notes from CODEX V International Book Fair and Symposium

CODEX V, the fifth biennial international CODEX Book Fair and Symposium, was the primary reason for my recent trip to San Francisco. In the words of Director Peter Koch, and confirmed by everyone I have ever talked to about being there, this is “the premiere world’s fair of the book considered as a work of art.” As a lover of fine press books and literature , I would hate to miss this event, and have been lucky enough to have it close enough that I’ve been to the last three. In fact, the several hours drive home after CODEX III was the inspiration for The Whole Book Experience. I wanted a way for those who may have missed the opportunity to see or hear about a limited edition book to have a place to go to read about them. And I wanted to find another way to enjoy fine press books myself. Continue reading

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