Sunday, December 20, 2009

What's on your nightstand?

It feels like most nights, I climb into bed and fall asleep so quickly, there is never time to read a chapter or two of a good book. But lately, I've been fighting a sore back, in which laying horizontal is just about the only way I find relief.

So much of the last week or so, I've found myself horizontal much earlier than normal. I'm fine with that, it lets me catch up on some books piling up on my nightstand. I thought I'd share with you what books I'm reading.

If the cover of this Michael Pollan book looks pretty beaten up, it's because it's been following me around for almost two years. I took it to Hawaii with me a few years ago, but just couldn't seem to find the right frame of mind with which to read it. I'm glad I finally made the effort, and reading it may have forced me into some deep thinking about becoming a vegetarian. I know one thing - I learned more about corn, and the whole food movement in our country, than I'd ever thought possible. If that sounds boring - trust me, it wasn't.

I threw this on my nightstand yesterday, when it came in the mail. Sometimes I just want to read something short and simple, so my mind isn't cluttered up right before falling asleep. It looks like there is an interesting tribute to James Krenov in this issue, as well as a gallery of some of his past student's work.

Also, since I teach boxmaking at my school, I was quite interested to see an article about boxmaking that included some alternative methods for making lids. The article has some innovative ideas, but one of the things I like about the way I teach boxmaking is that the grain of the wood matches around the perimeter of the box. Only one of the methods in the article allowed for this, but I felt like it was the more difficult (and easier to screw up) approach. Still... if you're a boxmaker looking for an alternative to installing hinges, this article might be of interest to you.

I think I found this book quite by accident, but I'm fascinated with the thought of hearing from our loved ones who have passed away. This book explores a connection with that other world, and although I'm only up to the first chapter, I can already tell it's going to be a fascinating read.

And finally... a blast from the past.

I have no idea if this author is still alive, but this book by George Grotz is classic. Published in 1962, it covers all sorts of topics related to woodworking - repairs, finishes, restoration, faux finishing, bleaching, wood info, and much more. He's hilarious, and his humor comes out in every chapter. For example, the chapter about bleaching has a subtitle of "blonds I've known".

Yes, much of the information is dated; there was no Gorilla glue then, nor some of the tools and finishes that are so common today. But he includes some very simple repair information that most homeowners might find helpful. Check out the illustration below for removing the warp from a bowed tabletop.

Speaking of that, yesterday I received a question on All-Experts, a site on which I volunteer. about a warped tabletop. Someone wrote to ask about a bowed table top, and as he described the problem, my head wanted to explode. Here's a link to the question and the answer.

The back cover of George's book offers a peek at some of the topics he covers inside.

I bought this book used on Amazon for next to nothing. You can find some really obscure, out of print books there. And even with shipping, the cost is very reasonable. At a recent Sin City Woodworkers meeting, Dennis Patchett gave an amazing demo on carving linenfold panel doors. He brought along an old carving book that he says taught him the basics of how to make these panels. I just picked up a copy of it on Amazon for $9, including shipping. Not a bad deal, considering the amount of information that this book contains.

Here's the one last item you'll always find on my nightstand.

Anyone else want to share what's in your reading cue right now?


Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

Great post, Jamie!
Soon to be on my nightstand (I know it is under my tree) is "The Artisan of Ipswich: Craftsmanship and Community in Colonial New England" by Robert Tarule. No other books there, but on the floor, because it's so big is Warman's "Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide." Nice to look through while you are ready to doze off.
P.S. (Love your glasses!)

Mrywidow said...

Amusing!! I also have The Omnivore's Dilemma on my nightstand! It's an interesting read, isn't it?