Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far

Usually, graphic designers are know as formulators -- with emphasis on form -- making what others have to say look good. But industry darling Stefan Sagmeister (best known for creating iconic album covers for the likes of Lou Reed and David Byrne) has produced an unbound book illustrating his own aphoristic maxims, and the globetrotting shenanigans he employed to stage them: the result is worth not just reading, but beholding. First, TIHLIMLSF is a fun thing to play with -- a die-cut cardboard box (outlining the author's face) with contents that can be shuffled to create radically different "covers." Muppet blue! Mad monkey mask! Pimples! Silly, but irrationally satisfying.Sagmeister not only has a mighty morphing mind, he also literally puts a lot of himself into his work. This monograph of projects represents a series of performance-art-stunt extremes: he dangled his legs outside an Empire State Building office window holding a sign and traveled to a shuttered amusement park in Singapore to erect bamboo scaffolding spelling out words on a man-sized scale. That he convinced his corporate clients to underwrite these wacky, costly endeavors is itself impressive. In the final analysis, the greatest value this exuberant catalogue offers is as a creative challenge; he makes it clear that if a merry prankster like him can have this much (lucrative) fun, so can you.

July 29: On this day in 1878 Don Marquis was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).