The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

January 16, 2017
by Dan
0 comments

Obama and Books

The New York Times has published a transcript of Michiko Kakutani’s recent conversation with US President Barak Obama about books: Some of the craft of writing a good speech is identical to any other good writing: Is that word necessary? Is it … Continue reading

October 17, 2016
by Dan
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The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin

Julie Phillips long profile of author Ursula K. Le Guin for The New Yorker is wonderful: Starting in the nineteen-eighties, [Le Guin] published some of her most accomplished work—fiction that was realist, magic realist, postmodernist, and sui generis. She wrote the Borgesian feminist parable “She … Continue reading

June 19, 2015
by Dan
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Simenon’s Island of Bad Dreams

At the NYRB Blog, John Banville reviews Georges Simenon’s novel The Mahé Circle, translated into English for the first time and now available from Penguin Classics: Simenon was a driven creature, who in his lifetime wrote more than four hundred books, drank and … Continue reading

May 28, 2015
by Dan
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Who Writes Novels?

Tom Gauld for The New Yorker.

April 14, 2015
by Dan
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Our Journey Will Be Long…

Tom Gauld

April 13, 2015
by Dan
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There’s no one saying, “You can’t do this in a book for children.”

The New York Times profiles Julie Strauss-Gabel, the publisher of Dutton Children’s Books: She became publisher of Dutton in 2011, and right away, it was clear this was going to be a different sort of imprint. She whittled down the list … Continue reading

December 11, 2014
by Dan
3 Comments

50 YA Covers for 2014

Like all the best things on The Casual Optimist, this post started life as a conversation on Twitter. The topic this time was the under-representation of YA book designers in all these end of the year cover lists. YA covers are becoming more … Continue reading

November 11, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Hilary Mantel: Speaking with the Dead

I’m finally, finally reading Wolf Hall (I know, I know…). It is excellent of course, and I’m looking forward to reading Hilary Mantel’s new collection of stories The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher just as soon as I’ve finished it (and Bring Up the Bodies). … Continue reading

October 22, 2014
by Dan
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A Case for Sherlock Holmes…

Tom Gauld.

June 23, 2014
by Dan
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Q & A with Matt Roeser, Candlewick Press

If you follow book design on social media at all, chances are you’ve come already across Matt Roeser‘s  funny, if somewhat dinosaur-fixated, Twitter feed. But over the past couple of years as senior designer at independent children’s publisher Candlewick Press in Massachusetts, Matt has been quietly producing some bright, brilliant, and … Continue reading

June 2, 2014
by Dan
1 Comment

Joost Swarte’s Summer Love Stories

Dutch cartoonist and designer Joost Swarte has drawn the cover for The New Yorker‘s new Summer Fiction issue.

February 1, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Miriam Markowitz: ‘Here Comes Everybody’

I am very late to this, but Miriam Markowitz’s article for The Nation ‘Here Comes Everybody‘, on women and book publishing in 2013, is well worth reading: More nuanced fiction that isn’t of an obvious commercial genre—much of which is written by … Continue reading

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