The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

July 21, 2017
by Dan
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The Only Place You Can Get a Decent Cup of Coffee

Tom Gauld for New Scientist. 

January 14, 2016
by Dan
2 Comments

On Jerks

In an excerpt from his new book Measure Yourself Against the Earth, philosopher Mark Kingwell considers jerks: [O]ne premise of the jerk theory is that any one of us might be a jerk at almost any time, given the right conditions—a … Continue reading

August 6, 2014
by Dan
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Peter Mendelsund, Your New Favourite Designer

On the blog of designer and art director Henry Sene Yee there is a fake poll question: “Who is your favourite book cover designer?” Three of poll’s four possible answers are “Chip Kidd.” The fourth is “none of the above.” The joke … Continue reading

August 1, 2012
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

Paul Gravett on piecing together the early history of comics: You’d think by now that the history of a medium as global and influential as comics would be fully researched and written, but this is not the case. In contrast to the … Continue reading

July 18, 2012
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

Midnight Cowboy — Andy Martin, author of The Boxer and the Goalkeeper, on Sartre and Camus in New York: When Sartre stepped off the plane in New York in January 1945, only months after the liberation of Paris, his head … Continue reading

April 11, 2012
by Dan
2 Comments

Midweek Miscellany

A.S. Byatt by reviews Peter Carey’s latest novel The Chemistry of Tears for the Financial Times. Also at the FT: Jennie Erdal, author of The Missing Shade of Blue, on philosophical novels: The more novels I read at university, the more I … Continue reading

August 2, 2011
by Dan
1 Comment

Humiliation | Henry Sene Yee

Just too good not to share, here’s an unused comp for Humiliation by Wayne Koestenbaum  designed by Henry Sene Yee for Picador’s Big Ideas // Small Books series. The photograph is by Jon Shireman. You can see the final cover and … Continue reading

July 11, 2011
by Dan
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David Lodge | Writers & Company

In another great archive interview for Writers & Company, author David Lodge talks to Eleanor Wachtel about artificial intelligence, consciousness and his 2002 novel Thinks: CBC RADIO WRITERS & COMPANY: David Lodge, Think

June 17, 2011
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Simplicity and Economy — Mike Dempsey profiles Keith Cunningham, who designed book covers for Peter Owen, for the Foyles bookshop blog: A tight discipline can galvanise a creative designer’s mind and Cunningham rose to the occasion with his very first cover … Continue reading

May 20, 2011
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

The New Museum — Steven Heller profiles Will Schofield, the man behind the awesome 50 Watts blog, for The Atlantic: For want of money, Schofield notes that he always bought cheap used copies and mass-market editions of the books he … Continue reading

March 29, 2011
by Dan
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More Montaigne

Author Sarah Bakewell talks about How To Live: Or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer with Ramona Koval for ABC RN’s The Book Show: THE BOOK SHOW: HOW TO LIVE, A LIFE OF … Continue reading

March 14, 2011
by Dan
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Rousseau Deep, Montaigne High

Anthony Gottlieb writes on the renewed interest in 16th Century French essayist Michel de Montaigne for The New York Times: Like Socrates, Montaigne claims that what he knows best is the fact that he does not know anything much. To … Continue reading

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