Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

A little book news

Posted: February 14, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Blood. Salt. Cod. Spice. Tuna. Fat. Bananas. Potatoes. Milk. Flotsam. And Jetsam. Wood. Garbage. Human waste.

Those are some of the subjects of books the past decade or so. I’ve read many of them — including ones mentioned above — and have enjoyed nearly all of them. The first thought when seeing the title is “How can anyone write an entire book about that one thing” followed by, “Why didn’t I think of that?” These books describe one thing but also write about how it affects the world. They’re about one seemingly small thing that influences nearly everything. Over the years I’ve tried thinking of something that would work for that type of book. What about beds? Or pillows? Pencils? Ink? The problem was everything’s been done, or so it seems. The other problem? If you’re going to write a book it has to be something you care about, and if you’re going to write a good book it should be something you’re passionate about.


It’s 1921. You’re a parent. You have a boy or a girl. School doesn’t offer the challenges your child needs, or maybe it doesn’t provide the discipline that will be required when the kid goes on to their next step in life. Fortunately, if you subscribed to Good Housekeeping, you can look at 13 pages of advertisements for various military academies, boys’ schools, girls’ schools, Bishop’s schools, art schools, home economic schools, powder point schools and much, much, — no, really, much — more.

When we arrived at my parents’ house in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon I quickly noticed a stack of very old magazines sitting on their very new dining room table. Old Life magazines. Look magazines from 1964. A Ladies Home Journal from 1961.

And a Good Housekeeping from June 1921. How could I not spend an hour digging through these?


I had three hometown newspapers when I was growing up. The Janesville Argus was the most literal representation, its small offices located on Main Street one block from our house. The quality of the Argus was totally dependent on the quality of the paper’s publisher. As a kid the paper was blessed with great publishers and editors, making the weekly Argus a great read. That quality declined over the years until the main question about the Argus wasn’t “What’s in it this week?”  but “Is it still alive?”

The Waseca County News was a bit bigger, but still a weekly. Twice-a-week when I was a kid and was a paperboy raking in the big quarters while lugging my heavy bag around Janesville, avoiding angry dogs and grouchy widows.