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Tag Archive: Universe Publishing


Review by C.J. Bunce

Lists, and by extension, books with lists, are the stuff that sprout conversation.  Sometimes good conversation, sometimes knock-down-drag-outs, but always something to talk about.  We saw that last month in our look at Must-See Sci-Fi: 50 Movies that Are Out of This World, and it applies to Scott Christianson and Colin Salter’s new audacious work, 100 Books that Changed the World This book is not merely a list of books, but an argument supporting why the authors think each book merits recognition.  After all, with more than 2 million new books published each year (300,000 per year in the U.S. alone) and documented writings going back thousands of years, whittling them all down to 100 is a bit daunting at a minimum.  Grade schoolers, college liberal arts and sciences majors, and everyone else has probably encountered a list like this before, usually styled the “greatest,” “most influential,” or “most significant” books ever written.  Ultimately, readers may find the compilation of 100 books that “changed the world” results in a very similar set of books.

What would make your list?  You can probably list 20 included without much work.  The authors state in their preface that there are 50 books everyone would agree should be included.  Think religion and myths (the Torah, the Bible, the Quran), math and science (Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Newton’s Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica), philosophy and politics (Plato’s The Republic, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man), works of fiction (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings), classic children’s books (Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales), works of the often-disputed literary greats (I’m looking at you, James Joyce), and works of long undisputed literary masters like Homer and Shakespeare.  Yes, these are all “givens” for a list like this.  But noteworthy great additions I don’t recall seeing on a list like this before include Louis Braille’s Procedure for Writing Words, Music and Plainsong in Dots, Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of TimeAnd no author made the list more than once, except the writers of the Bible, which appears on the list twice: for the Gutenberg Bible and the King James version.

The authors hope their book “makes you question your own choices or ours, or introduces you to a book.”  Criticisms of 100 Books that Changed the World aren’t going to be all that dire as much as simply topics for discussion.  They’re the same critiques of any list or book like this.  Thirty-seven books on the list were written by authors from England, removing the inclusion of any books from some countries.  The list is heavily back loaded, with 26 books from the 19th century and 35 books from the 20th century–explainable in part since the authors didn’t have a lot to select from the first 3,000 years covered.  The oldest book included is the I Ching, roughly 4,800 years old, and the most recent, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, only four years old.  The late history scholar Robert E. Schofield postulated that historians cannot accurately assess the influence of a historical period unless at least 50 years has transpired, and consistent with that theory, nine books shouldn’t have made the cut, removing books like Salmon Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Art Spiegleman’s graphic novel Maus, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  

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Two new project books may give Daffy Duck’s “Pipe Full of Fun Kit #7” a run for its money for Bob’s Burgers’ fans.  Next month coming to a bookstore near you will be The Official Bob’s Burgers Sticker Book and The Official Bob’s Burgers Guided Journal, following up on Universe Publishing’s successful The Official Bob’s Burgers Coloring Book.  You can usually tell when the people behind a fan-favorite property are the same people who create the tie-ins made for the fans.  That’s the case with these two new books.  Frequently ranked as one of the greatest TV cartoons of all time, Bob’s Burgers recounts the exploits of a family trying to run a burger joint.  This summer Fox renewed Bob’s Burgers for its ninth season.  And Bob’s Burgers is slated to come to theaters, as a film adaptation is in the works for release in 2020.

In The Official Bob’s Burgers Sticker Book, you can expect to find plenty of views of the restaurant and Bob, Linda, and their kids Tina, Gene, and Louise.  You can combine images of their key “accessories” and put your own burger special up on the chalkboard.  You can even invent and name your own custom burgers (you know you want to).  You get 29 pages of stickers in all in a 5×7″ format book.

The Official Bob’s Burgers Guided Journal is not your typical lined journal with only the title of the show on the cover.  It has the potential to be a load of laughs.  First, it’s full of 100 border images of main characters, joke images, and familiar environmental details, a different one appearing every two to four pages in its 5×7″ format.  A cross between a book of writer’s prompts and Mad Libs, its 176 pages also include 58 prompt ideas.  If you don’t want to just use the book as a standard writing journal, take up one or more of the prompts to get your writing going, like “The Person I’d Most Like To Glue To A Toilet And Why, Is…”, “In My Fantasy Where A Cow Kisses Me, This Is What I Say To It First…”, “If I Were A Terrible School Guidance Counselor, My Therapy Dolls Would Be Named…”, and “If I Had a Crazy Fever Dream, These Are The Toys I’d Want To Show Up to Fight And/or Go On An Adventure With.”

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Stuck On Star Trek Cover Joe Corroney

Back in December I tracked down and discussed here ten retro toys you could still buy as gifts for the holidays.  In that list I included Colorforms–those reusable, thin plastic stickers that you could use to re-create scenes on a cardboard backdrop. As a kid I went crazy for these–I had every Colorforms set from Star Trek to Peanuts, The Fonz, Marvel Superheroes, Mickey Mouse, Scooby Doo, Evel Knievel, and an awesome oversized set called Castle Dracula where you could house all of the classic Universal Studios monsters under one roof.  The Star Trek Colorforms playset came with a backdrop of the bridge of the original Enterprise and white, yellow, blue, and red colored stickers featuring crew, hand weapons and aliens.  It was a popular set and provided hours of fun.

Stuck on Star Trek bridge background

Colorforms still exists but doesn’t license a lot of movie and TV properties, but I recently saw in a toy store playsets for young kids with Yo Gabba Gabba, Dora the Explorer, and Spongebob Clearly with all the high-tech toy options for kids these days it’s the littler kids that are the Colorforms target consumer.

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Princess Bride Celebration Cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

When you see someone get a project just right sometimes you know it immediately.

Norman Lear and Rob Reiner’s 1987 fantasy fairy tale The Princess Bride is a classic movie in every sense.  Unforgettable scenes, quotable dialogue, and a superb story by William Goldman provided the recipe for a film that is not just a fun film to watch now and again but a film girls and boys and women and men alike will outright tell you they love.  If there is a more incredible single scene in all of fantasy films than Mandy Patinkin’s Inigo Montoya in his final confrontation with Christopher Guest’s Count Rugen, then I have no idea what it is.  “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Intrepid borg.com writers Jason McClain, Art Schmidt, and Elizabeth C. Bunce each listed The Princess Bride on their top fantasy films of all time and if you want to read some good fan commentary on the film’s resonance 25 years after its premiere check out their past discussions of the film here.

Celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary, Universe Publishing, known among other things for producing high quality coffee table books, has released a beautiful and exciting look at the making of the film and memorabilia compilation for fans.  The Princess Bride: A Celebration is the first companion book to the film ever created.  Which in itself is astounding–a movie so popular and yet no one thought to release something like this before.  The result is what any fan of any film would love to have–it’s the kind of book that has not even been done in this way for films like Star Wars or Star Trek, although many great varieties of books have looked behind the scenes at those franchises.  What stands out for The Princess Bride: A Celebration is its volume of quality reprinted Polaroid images taken during production for costume, make-up, hairstyle, scene and design continuity.  It is a collector’s dream to lay his/her hands on continuity Polaroids from a film production and this book gives the reader the feel that Rob Reiner let you browse a trunk in his attic that hasn’t been opened since 1987.

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