Category: books

2011 in books: the year I “discovered” non-fiction

2011 was the year I discovered I truly enjoyed non-fiction, specially the well-written, interesting topics kind. I wasn´t picky when it came to choosing themes and read scientific writing – “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, by Rebecca Skloot – as well as travel writing – “Caderno Afegão” and “Viva México”, by Alexandra Lucas Coelho.

The first book mentioned above has got to be one of the biggest surprises for me: not only I started with non-fiction with this one, but it also is the best and most accessible science writing I´ve ever imagined. It mixes, with great success, the story of a family, of actual people who lived, died, had feelings and opinions, with the story of the origins of one of the most used – I learned – lines of cells in science, the HeLa cells. Wonderfully written, I´m definitely looking forward to reading more from the author.

The other two books mentioned above are, as far as I know, only available in portuguese. If you read the language and get your hands on them, treasure those copies. These are books that are meant to be read and kept, with their well designed covers and typography and their wonderful content. The journalist travels to Afghanistan (in “Caderno Afegão”) and we feel we´re breathing the same dust she breathes. When I finished reading it, I immediately felt hungry for more and started “Viva México”, a journey through the many Méxicos there are in México. It´s a wonderfully written mix of journal with travel literature and you can almost smell the chili through the author´s words. With books like these on your hands, who wants e-books?

“Born to Run”, by Christopher McDougall, was also one of those books I kept telling people about while reading. I wished I belonged to a book club and we could discuss it, so was my enthusiasm. It´s an adventure, a documentary, it´s pertinent information, well compiled to convey the author´s hypothesis. Do not miss it, specially if you like running – which I don´t and now actually dream of very, very often.

Finally, on my highlights list, “Necessary Losses”, by Judith Viorst. Paraphrasing the praise on the back cover, if you´re human, read it. You can´t go wrong with it.

Happy 2012!

2011 in books: non-fiction

Cut, cut, cut

peeling the sketch from the cut out paper

Lots of cutting activity around here, as my friend A. – who authored the texts – and I are preparing to contact publishers to present our ongoing book projects.

We´re learning a lot along the way and are hoping to get a positive answer, despite the economical crisis the world (and publishers, obviously) is going through.

We´re compiling a list of guidelines we´re gathering for submitting work to publishers and I´d love to hear your thoughts and experience. Please comment or email me!

More photos of the illustration process here.

Weekend reading

weekend reading

I recently bought these two titles from The Book Depository. Their service can only be recommended for it is quick and effective: books arrived safe and sound, each in its own envelope, which means I didn´t need to go pick up a package from Customs, pay storage fees there and wait for hours until all steps and procedures were completed. No. And the fact that postage costs are covered by them, that even makes it better! Great books are very accessible and are delivered to your door (they were to mine!).

The books bought are: "Whatcha mean, what´s a zine?" by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson, and "Indie Publishing", edited by Ellen Lupton. I´m almost finishing the first one and can´t wait to have to get to the second one.

I think that this weekend will be a great opportunity to get to it, since authorities are recommending isolation to avoid swine flu spreading (even more). All events are being cancelled in town and several cities in the country have already shut down shops and malls. It feels a bit weird and, really, we don´t know anymore which information is true and accurate, so having things to do indoors will be a very good distraction.

Fortunately this week I got to go yarn shopping with Joji and my stash will certainly keep me entertained for the coming days!

(Hmmm, will the upcoming german exam be postponed too?)

Edited to add: Have a great weekend!


working on a new book

The past few days have been spent, among other things, working a new book with my friend Ana (another Ana!), who lives in Madrid. She did a wonderful job writing and it´s my turn now to make this a book people (young and not so young) will enjoy. So far, I´m loving working on it, researching and basically trying to make the leap from usually very figurative illustration into something less descriptive. Obviously, no pictures of the actual illustrations to be shown yet, not even little preview bits, because I´m still not at that stage. Still, lots of fun.

What are you attracted to? Figurative, descriptive illustrations? Or more abstract or symbolic ones?

Here´s a great post about common prejudices and misconceptions about illustrated books for children (in portuguese).

Books and inspiration II

"This is for you" by Rob Ryan

"This is for you" by Rob Ryan

"This is for you" by Rob Ryan

My younger sister lives in London and always finds the most amazing books to give as a presents. Thanks to her I´ve read titles such as “White Teeth” and, last Christmas, she gave me two books that constitue a high source of inspiration for me, but never got to blog about.

One of those books is “This is for you“, by Rob Ryan, a book filled with his amazing papercuts. By stretching the very synthetic language of a papercut (single coloured shapes against a neutral background), the author manages to evoke a fairy-tale ambiance to each and every single piece. He also has a strong sense of composition, putting together harmoniously text and image – all in papercut, of course. I love papercutting, so this book is like a bible to me.

The other book my sister gave me last Christmas is “Colors” by Anne Varichon.

"Colors", by Anne Varichon

"Colors", by Anne Varichon

Now, this is a true bible of everything colour related: not only does the author explain the symbolics and meaning related to several colours in different cultures, the author also explains how to make the different pigments by yourself.

On top of all that, the graphic design is flawless, working perfectly to convey the message that is most important: colours have an impact.

These two books are always within reach!

Books and inspiration I

"Cuando Verónica teje" by Valeria Cis

I´m having a lot of fun looking at the illustrations “Cuando Verónica teje” (which translates as “When Verónica knits”), from Valeria Cis, published by Primera Sudamericana. My appreciation for knitting and its possibilities is quite obvious by now, I believe, and that´s probably why I enjoy so much the fact that it can be seen as more than “a grandma thing”. A children´s book with a sheep knitting? Love it!

"Cuando Verónica teje" by Valeria Cis

"Cuando Verónica teje" by Valeria Cis

"Cuando Verónica teje" by Valeria Cis

The illustrations are very beautiful and expressive as well as the writing (both by Valeria Cis) and the only thing missing in this book is a nice edition. The cover is soft, the book itself is quite small in format (23cm x 15,5cm), considering that it is a children´s book, of course. It isn´t an inviting object – but it is a lovely work. Congratulations to the author, not so much to congratulate on the publisher´s side, though.

(From the same author, “Diez excusas para no comer vegetales”, also very beautifully written and illustrated, belonging to the same collection – “Puercoespín” – but, weirdly enough, with a different format.)

"Diez excusas para no comer vegetales", by Valeria Cis

There are some more posts about books coming up. In the meantime, have a nice weekend everyone! It will be a long weekend here, due to a national holiday on Monday, so regular posting will resume on Tuesday.

Para los Argentinos: feliz día de la Patria! (eso fue editado para que quede totalmente argentinizado. De todas formas: feliz 25 de Mayo!)

Good reads

books I´m reading

I started reading “As Benevolentes” by Jonathan Littel quite some time ago but as it is very visible by its size, it isn´t very easy to read. Well, maybe the size doesn´t actually tell it, but the theme (World War II) is very dense and the same is true for the pages´visual appearance: the author uses no paragraphs, or almost no paragraphs, and that means that you need large amounts of time to get into the subject and read a considerable chunk of text without getting lost. It´s not uninteresting, not at all; it´s just that for the graphic designer in me it is difficult to read. I love white space but don´t know what happened to it in this book. No white space whatsoever, just lines and lines and lines with almost no space between them.

Anyway, the story it tells isn´t a nice one either: the main character was a german army officer during World War II and tells the story through his perspective. He tells about the conflicts the arian philosophy and his homossexuality raised in him. Some parts of the story are very engaging, some are so appalling that it takes time for me to get through them. It´s a very good read, nevertheless, but not for the faint of heart.

Totally the opposite are the books by Malcom Gladwell. I read “Blink” during the weekend and loved it. It´s interesting and I realize that I love that style of writing. I call it “magazine writing” – a term that, I reckon, lots of people might use too. So, to get back to his books, the topics are interesting, the style of writing is very fluid and engaging and the data is presented in a way that makes it easy for me to understand, relate and remember. I´m now well into “The Outliers” and enjoying it almost as much – not just as much because I´m reading a spanish translation, albeit a good one, I always prefer to read the original. But that´s what I had close at hand.

Mujeres que corren con los lobos” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés is like a referral book to me. I´ve been reading it slowly for months now and I find it to be the best way to assimilate all the information that it contains. It´s been a revelation, so it works best for me to take it in little sips.

Well, last but not least, a mention to what I read during the vacation in Australia: “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert – I was probably the last woman on earth to have read it but if someone hasn´t yet, then I´ll recommend it – and “Dom Casmurro“, by Machado de Assis, one of the classics of brazilian literature, of which I know so little. Both are good and entertaining reads, and both have something to teach too.

Pure inspiration | Inspiração

“Buenos Aires
Art Déco y Racionalismo”

de Mimi Böhm, Fabio Grementieri (texts | textos), Xavier Verstraeten (photography | fotografia)

This is a book I received as a gift on my birthday and proved not only to be a seemingly endless source of inspiration but also a tool to reinforce my (already strong) love for Buenos Aires.

While I was studying I did this research project on modernism both in Portugal and its influences in Macau, where I lived during my teenage years. This project was one of the milestones on my training as a graphic designer, basically because of the methodology used on this kind of architecture (a rational one, as this book´s title says) and the visual translation it has in its shape.

This book documents this period here in Buenos Aires and shows images of varied buildings, of pottery, ads, clothes and many, many other things.

And it feels great to recognize those buildings and actually strengthening this belonging-kind-of-relationship that I now have to my host city.


Recebi este livro como presente de aniversário e, desde que o abri pela primeira vez, não o consegui largar durante muito tempo.

A minha paixão pelo modernismo já vem dos tempos da faculdade, onde fiz um trabalho sobre o tema em Portugal e a sua influência no ultramar, especificamente na ex-colónia de Macau, cidade onde vivi. Com este trabalho, fiquei a conhecer melhor a metodologia projectual do modernismo e essa foi uma influência marcante na minha forma de trabalhar e de encarar os meus próprios projectos.

Este livro vem agora mostrar-me inúmeros exemplos desta cidade que agora me acolhe, Buenos Aires. Esta sensação de ir reforçando a minha relação com as esquinas, os pormenores e os pormaiores desta cidade é boa e faz-me sentir em casa. Além disso, este livro é uma constante fonte de inspiração (e de informação), pois também mostra exemplos de outras áreas da produção artística: temos cartazes publicitários, entradas de prédios, peças de louça e muitas outras coisas. Que maravilha!

Countdown for the holidays | Contagem decrescente

Last week was hectic! I´m glad it is over and that I managed to deliver the two most urgent projects on time, but I still had to make it a bit into Saturday to finish things. Fortunately we had a long weekend, as yesterday was a public holiday here in Argentina (it was a holiday in Portugal too, so it was actually fun to have a holiday simultaneously).

One of the projects mentioned above involved Blurb. The ease of the service really surprised me (hey, I come from a traditionally bureaucratic country and live in an even worse one!). I didn´t use their own software for the design part as it seemed a bit limited compared to the professional software I usually use – which is logical, of course – so I designed everything elsewhere and imported it into their own software. The only real hurdle on the whole process was that I had to export my layout as a .pdf, then convert it into .jpg or .png (I used the latter format) and then import those files (one per page) into Booksmart. I read their forum and everyone is saying the same: please accept pdf files directly into Booksmart! It will be a time-saver and it will definitely improve workflow.

Otherwise, working with Blurb was a smooth experience. I´m looking forward to seeing the results!


A contagem decrescente até ao Natal é sempre agitada, já que toda a gente quer ter os seus projectos terminados antes do fim do ano. Por isso, a semana passada foi muito ocupada e deu à justa para terminar os dois trabalhos mais urgentes que tinha.

Para um deles recorri ao site Blurb, onde se pode produzir livros de qualidade, sem limite mínimo de exemplares. Devo dizer que fiquei surpreendida com a facilidade com que as coisas se processam – e os preços são bem convidativos! Como entregam os livros tanto em Portugal como cá na Argentina, penso que o vou usar mais vezes.

A única parte menos boa no processo – pelo menos para um designer profissional – é que o software próprio que disponibilizam, o Booksmart, é um pouco limitado nas suas opções. Contudo, é possível fazer o trabalho todo no programa com que trabalhamos habitualmente e importá-lo posteriormente para o Booksmart. Aqui, a única crítica é que no processo de importação dos ficheiros é preciso passá-los de .pdf (formato de exportação do programa em que paginei o livro) para .jpg ou .png, e só posteriormente colocar página por página no software Blurb.

Li instruções e comentários dos utilizadores e todos concordam neste assunto: quando o Booksmart aceitar o formato .pdf para importação, então trabalhar com o Blurb vai ser mesmo uma maravilha!

Estou ansiosa por ver o livro impresso!

Bookbinding without adhesives, book II | Encadernação sem adesivos, livro II

This is the second book made during the course of the workshop taught at Papelera Palermo´s Casa de Oficios. It´s a little different from the first model done but it was really nice to build. All in all, the feeling of having made something with your own two hands is just unbeatable, specially in this digital age where no one seems to know what to do without the help of a computer.

See more photos here.

Este é o segundo livro feito no workshop organizado pela Casa de Oficios da Papelera Palermo e leccionado por encadernadores da Asociación Argentina de Encuadernadores Artesanales. Depois da prática da construção do primeiro, este aqui não foi muito difícil de fazer. É óbvio que apesar de ser bastante perfeccionista (ui!), é um livro feito por uma principiante. Mas estou satisfeita com o resultado, sobretudo com o facto de o ter construído manualmente, artesanalmente, nesta época de predominância digital em que muitas vezes nem sabemos o que fazer sem um computador por perto. Por mim falo, obviamente!

Mais fotos aqui.

Bookbinding without adhesives | Encadernação sem adesivos

I´ve been away from blogging for a while now and it mostly had to do with work. Last week I was more than flooded with work, which is good, but prevents me from getting close to the internet (which can also be good, I guess!).

Despite the work overload the bookbinding without adhesives workshop started last Thursday and this is the result of the first work session.

See more photos here.


Apesar da sobrecarga de trabalho da última semana, comecei a frequentar o workshop de Encadernação sem Adesivos , na Casa de Oficios da Papelera Palermo. Este foi o primeiro livro que encadernámos, cosido com fio de algodão.

Mais fotografias aqui.

On my desk

It´s Wednesday again (it´s amazing how time flies!) and it´s on my desk day.

Wednesday is also german class day and this semester I´m taking it specially serious (well…) because there´s an exam in July. I´m reading in german, listening to podcasts in german, watching some TV in german… sometimes I even think and dream in german, which means that somehow the inmense amount of vocabulary is slowly sinking in.

There are also two other books on my desk: Illustrating Children´s Books by Martin Salisbury (a present from a friend who came to visit) and Kim Hargreaves´ Heartfelt book. Both are “eye-candy-sort-of-book” and I´ve been keeping them close to take a look at them every now and then.

It´s time to get back to work and put some more things on my desk.

See more desks at kootoyoo´s.