Monthly Archives: July 2012

Featured Pinterest: The Bibliophile’s Notes


This week, we are featuring Tiffany Johnson’s board “The Bibliophile’s Notes“. Unlike last week’s board, this one is less of a bookshelf and more of a collection of fun and bookish things, which is what we’re all about. Tiffany amassed a variety of images, many of them word based.

There are simple yet hilarious quotes about reading. Some are the types of things everyone thinks but no one really says out loud, for example:


But she balances out these humorous findings with other quotes, such as excerpts from one of the many famous Pablo Neruda love poems.

Some of the images also link back to interesting articles. For example, the first image up top takes you to a love article titled “Ten Books Every Girl Should Read in her Twenties“. Another reading list is book riot’s “100 Greatest American Novels” which would go along perfectly with our post about the search for the Great American Novel.

Tiffany also finds cool, literary themed items that you might find around the house. She showcases fun bookshelves, nerdy iPhone cases, literary jewelry and for those of you that are over 21, book themed shot glasses. There is the occasional literary staircase which must be no easy feat to build inside a house. Imagine how much fun walking up the stairs would be if you could read these book titles? It’s like being able to judge someone’s bookcase before you even reach their room.


And finally, what makes this Pinterest board so fabulous and unique is a collection of what I would call ‘vintage’ images. She has found a version of the Hokey Pokey, if it had been written by Shakespeare and an edited manuscript from J. G. Ballard’s manuscript of CRASH. There are literary maps (including one of Kerouac’s hitchhiking trip across America), a letter from Fitzgerald, and collected outfits of fictional characters.

These items give the browser a distinct feeling of being where all of these literary masterpieces was born. I feel as though I was having a conversation with Fitzgerald, or critiquing Ballard’s manuscript myself. My personal favorite out of this collection is a simple postcard from Paris, written to Gertrude Stein from Pablo Picasso. It looks like a piece of art.



Michael’s Monthly Roundup: Pinterest, a Pairing, and Pickup Lines

These posts have caught my attention this week:

  • Our “Bookshelf” Pintrest profile. As Pintrest rapidly grows, its role in our multimedia society cannot be downplayed. We plan on occasionally profiling Pintrest boards that have a flair for the literary. Emily Allender’s “Bookshelf” board, in particular, stands out because it isn’t just about showcasing books; it’s about a literary lifestyle. We approve.
  • Alt-Minds. I’m still not sure what exactly this is, but that’s what makes it so interesting. “Part TV-show, part mobile app, and part mystery novel.” It definitely forces you to wonder about the future of storytelling in this digital age.
  • We paired 3-D money sculptures with Frank Montesonti’s poem “Vegas Lights, Hedge Funds, Monetary Policy and Beauty.” EnglishMajorsUnite is committed to transferring work that we’ve already published over at our digital magazine, LitCouture, onto this blog.
  • One boss will only hire job applicants who pass his grammar test. Sometimes it pays to be an English major.
  • And finally, we all had too much fun with our list of literary pickup lines. If you actually manage to use those lines in real life, more power to you.

Making Your Children Read for Their Right to Party & “Deadbeat Dad Writes the Birthday Invitations” by Steven Markow


Tip Junkie has a list of age-approrpriate, book-themed children’s parties–celebrating favorites like Goodnight Moon (see above) and Eloise.
In the spirit of birthday parties, check out one of our favorite humor pieces, originally published in LitCouture:

Deadbeat Dad Writes the Birthday Invitations

by Steven Markow

Congratulations, you are now invited to my kid’s party. He’s turning something between seven and ten. Whoopee.

If you are planning on showing up to this thing, there are a few things you need to know.

1. Don’t buy him anything fancy. Yeah, we get it, your parents are lawyers and this kid’s parents are unemployed (me) and a low wage salon worker (his mom). You don’t have to make a big deal about it by getting him something more expensive than his own parents could afford. Your parents probably think they’re being pretty gracious, but they’re not, they’re just being jackass showoffs and they know it. Do us all a favor and just get him a card, but be warned, if you try to get sneaky and slip money in there, I will pocket the bill myself and slap you.

2. When you show up and the first thing you see is me, in a robe, with a lot of “fuzz” on my face, a beer in one hand and the television remote in the other, don’t leave. You’re at the right house. Yeah, there’s still a party happening. I just don’t see a point in getting ready for guests until I’m sure they’re really going to show. The first “event” planned for the party will be watching Matlock until the birthday boy’s daddy has put on a tee shirt and ran a trimmer over his jowls. I’m telling you right now, the second item on the agenda’s going to be watching more Matlock until the 5 Hour I downed in the bathroom kicks in.

3. When too many kids have showed up to convince my wife to call the thing off, I’m going to bring out a deep tub of cotton candy. We’ll then start playing a game. The game begins by all you kids eating your own body weight in cotton candy. Then I lock you in the garage with some Nerf guns and rubber baseball bats. The object of the game is to run around screaming and trying to kill each other with the weapons provided until you pass out. If you do this successfully, I win. If any of you still has an ounce of energy left when I unlock the garage an hour later, I lose. The reward for winning this game is you get to wake up at the end of the party with rotten teeth and a splitting headache, just in time for cake and presents. The consequence for losing is you stay locked up in the garage until my wife finds out and frees you, which will hopefully be just in time for cake and presents but might not be for several hours if I forget where I put you.

4. Here’s how the present opening ceremony works. I go into the bathroom with a men’s magazine and all of the presents. I emerge fifteen to twenty minutes later with only the presents I found worth keeping. Everything else goes into the bathroom trash can with the wrapping paper. If you don’t see your present in my hands when I come out of the bathroom, you are allowed to go into the bathroom and paw through the trash can until you find your present and take it back. That’s totally legit. But be warned, if you failed to honor rule one, and bought my kid some fancy crap, I probably smashed into pieces so don’t bother looking.

5. One last thing, I don’t do goody bags. They just don’t make sense. It’s my own kid’s birthday, and you come to my house and demand that I feed and entertain you all afternoon, and I’m supposed to give you a gift? Assuming that this thing happens, and I’ve managed to hold it together before my energy drink crashes, my parting gift to you will be not flipping over the dining room table and screaming obscenities at my wife until she gives me a beer and puts TV Land back on.

Well, there you go. As long as all of that is understood before you decide to show up here, I think things will go just fine.

Oh yeah, and my wife says to put that it’s going to be a lot of fun and we hope to see you all there. If all of the above sounds like a good time to you, then sure, I totally agree.

– Mr. Paul Peters

Steven Markow is currently a senior at Bennington College and works with music and video in addition to various kinds of prose and poetry. The photograph above is by Tray Drumhann, a photographer, mixed media artist and visual poet. His goal is to communicate the personal and cultural dynamics that condition how we view ourselves and others as well as how our individual experiences condition such perception. His work has appeared in such publications as Columbia New Poetry, Mad Hatter’s Review, The Pedestal, Moria, Rune: The MIT journal of arts and letters, The Emerson Review and After Hours.

Literary Pickup Lines (aka ‘Is that a Bookmark in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?’)

Since the summer is the best time to get lucky, we thought we would help you before time runs out with a list of literary pickup lines.

We’d be smitten if anybody said the following to us:

Welcome to my apartment — or, as the ladies like to call it, The Joy Luck Club.

Hey, baby, the sun is not the only thing that also rises.
Just like James Joyce, I know how to make a girl go, “yes I said yes I will Yes.”
I wasn’t a big fan of “Eat” or “Pray,” but there ain’t nothin’ wrong with “Love.”
I’m a classic Horatio Alger story — namely, Ragged Dick and Struggling Upward.

And then if you feel extra hopeless on the romantic front, visit this tumblr dedicated to boosting your self-esteem and providing you with every pickup line known to man.

Shadow Sculpting « Kumi Yamashita and “A Shadow of a Chair” by Timothy Kercher

See on Scoop.itThe Art of Everyday

Immensely talented maker Kumi Yamashita uses two of the most basic aspects of the “everyday” as mediums for her artwork: light and shadow. Born in Japan, Yamashita came to America as an exchange student while she was in high school and went on to receive a BFA from the Cornish College of the Arts in Washington State. She then entered an MFA program in fine arts at Glasgow University in Scotland. Through her training and natural gift for understanding the complex relationship between a light source and the objects with which it interacts, Yamashita has earned her reputation at the forefront of shadow sculpting.

“I sculpt shadow with light or sometimes light with shadow, but both function in essentially the same manner. I take objects and carve and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow),” she explains on her website.

Her 2009 exhibition “Fragments”, featured above, is housed in the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe. Here Yamashita does what she does best: makes something out of, seemingly, nothing. “Fragments” is made up of colored resin tiles onto which is cast the light of one single source. The shadows projected onto the surface are the unique profiled faces of 40 residents of New Mexico whom Yamashita encountered in her travels in the state. “It is both testament and celebration of the people whose names may never make it into the history books or history museums, but who definitely make up the rich fabric of life in a pueblo, city, county, and state,” she writes.

In “City View” (2003), the figure of a woman’s body stands straight, hands perched on a railing — but the silhouette is created entirely in shadows formed by aluminum numbers adhered at varying angles to the wall. The captivating but mindboggling “Lovers” (1999) depicts a couple in motion, their hands nearly, but not quite, intertwined — their shadows separated by the cut aluminum plates that form them.

The down-to-earth artist’s response when asked in an interview with COOL blog to explain the inspiration behind her art is one we can all take to heart:

“Always being happy. If I am happy, ideas naturally spring forth. The more I try to think of good ideas, the worse my work is. The times when I am making good art are the times when I am enjoying making it. If this feeling starts to crumble even a little, I stop working and do something completely different. For example, I’ll participate in a wild flower picking tour in Central Park (laughing), and find that happy feeling in another field. For me, feeling happy is normal and, at the same time, very important“.

Video footage of the construction of Yamashita’s “Dialogue” exhibition is viewable on YouTube. Her personal website is:


For your viewing pleasure, this featured “maker’s” work is paired with the following poem, originally published last year in LitCouture.

A Shadow of a Chair by Timothy Kercher


Is tucked into a desk, chair
itself gone, tired
of supporting
the ass of this writer—so
far from the seat
of ideas. Across
the city under a single
bulb, a writer’s
shadow in a real
chair at a desk where
his shadowy
hand grips & turns
a pen like a brass
knob with each phrase,
opening the door to

For more work by Timothy Kercher, check out his poem, “Meeting Yevtushenko’s Translator,” originally published in LitCouture.

Summer Reading Flowchart

Stuck on what to read this summer? Check out this fun flowchart from! It is both easy to follow and useful, which is exactly what you want a flowchart to be. Let us know what book you end up on!


Only Hire People Who Can Spell the Word “Grammar”

At Harvard Business Review‘s blog, Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, writes about the importance of good grammar in the workplace. He won’t hire people with poor grammar, because in today’s online world, your words are often “all that you have.” Wiens even grills his potential employees with English tests before hiring. Some think he’s being too harsh on the less savvy; Wiens responds:

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

“Sloppy is as sloppy does,” he adds. We agree. English majors of the world understand the value of good grammar… thankfully, employers appreciate it too.

The Great American Novelist, Pt. 2… Still Debated


After we previously blogged about the dubious search for the “Great American Novel,” The Guardian decided to annoy countless readers everywhere by drafting a list of 32 authors who will “compete” to be named the “Great American Novelist” in an online tournament. To qualify, an author had to have produced at least four novels, been American, and written in the last 100 years.

Why four books? Why within the past 100 years? The arbitrariness of it all..such a stupid endeavor.

Anyway, for those interested, here are the 32 finalists:

William Faulkner

Saul Bellow

Philip Roth

John Updike

John Steinbeck

Sinclair Lewis

Toni Morrison

Ernest Hemingway

Edith Wharton

Cormac McCarthy

Willa Cather

Don DeLillo

EL Doctorow

Thomas Pynchon

Vladimir Nabokov

Annie Proulx

James Baldwin

William S. Burroughs

Raymond Chandler

John Dos Passos

John Fante

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Richard Ford

Wallace Stegner

William Gaddis

Joseph Heller

Ursula K. Le Guin

Carson McCullers

Joyce Carol Oates

William Styron

Paul Auster

Kurt Vonnegut

Featured Pinterest: Bookshelf


Everyone knows about sites like goodreads, where you can showcase the books you are currently reading and books you’ve been meaning to read and build a community among the other readers on the site. But a new, perhaps undiscovered world of readers exists within the image-based, online pinboard, Pinterest.

This week, we will be featuring Emily Allender’s board Bookshelf. It’s filled with a variety of images, starting with books to read (Into Thin Air by Jack Krakauer, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern), including a few children’s book (Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson – one of my personal favorites). The titles she includes are have a refreshing range from long and classic novels to young adult novels that can be enjoyed at any age. There are even a number of titles that you might not have heard before.


But she doesn’t stop there.

She also finds beautiful literary images, like the one above. She finds humorous quotes and images to go along with the novels on her list, such as:


There are also serious and beautiful quotes, ranging from Harry Potter to writers like Ernest Hemingway. As you scroll down her board, you are continually amazed as she goes beyond finding simple quotes. She finds unique gems of literary pleasure with words presented in ways never seen before. These images leave you pleasantly awe-struck for a moment.


And, of course, what collection of literary images would be complete without some Harry Potter references. For an fan, these are fun and heartwarming. I mean really, who wouldn’t want to dress their dog like this just for a day?


The Ongoing E-Book Lawsuit: Price-Fixing in the 21st Century


Earlier this April, Time reported that the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the nation’s largest book publishers, including Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, for fixing e-book prices.

Price-fixing occurs when two or more people agree to “fix” pricing for products or services for mutual benefit. Imagine, for instance, if the foremost retailers of a given product, say a new book, agreed to set the price at suggested list, foregoing discounts and effectively eliminating price-based competition. The retailers would enjoy high margins on the book, while consumers would be forced to pay the same price everywhere. Thus, with controversial exceptions made for cartels like OPEC, price fixing is illegal in several countries, including the U.S. under antitrust law.

Apple engaged in such tactics to combat Amazon, which had been pricing new e-books at the very low cost of $9.99. As a result, there has been a strong pushback against the Department of Justice for targeting Apple and not Amazon, which critics claim forced other companies into a corner by engaging in predatory pricing.

In an op-ed published in last week’s Wall Street Journal, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the lawsuit against Apple and the publishers should be dropped.

The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets.

But the Department of Justice announced today that it will not back down. The trial is set for June 2013. The future of a burgeoning industry remains murky.