A BookLikes community page for Quirk Books, an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia. We publish 25 strikingly unconventional books every year. Learn more at QuirkBooks.com.
Looking to make your Thanksgiving a little more bookish? Check out our DIY Book Turkey, complete with printable template! http://www.quirkbooks.com/post/make-your-own-bookish-turkey-place-card
Leading creative writing teachers all agree: NaNoWriMo is 80% motivation, 10% typing skills, 9% talent, and 1% having the perfect playlist in the background. By creating this easy-to-use NaNoWriMo Word Count Chart, we did all the heavy-lifting for you budding authors. There's even pre-filled rewards you can do for yourself! So print this out, stick it in a place where the blank spaces will endlessly taunt you, and don't forget to thank us in your acknowledgements!
Unfinished manuscript ghost says, "I know what you did last November!" #NaNoWriMo
Halloween always puts Quirk HQ in a more ghoulish mood that usual. Perhaps that's why we've taken it upon ourselves to reimagine some classic novels in a horror-ific fashion. Hit us up with any of your own contributions on Twitter, and you might just see it illustrated!
Every year during Banned Books Week, we honor books that have been banned or challenged throughout history. We do so because stories that attract censorship are often speaking truths some are fearful of hearing. These are books that break down established norms, challenge authority, provoke critical thinking, and yes, make people uncomfortable in doing so. And when they are banned, we as a society are lesser for it.
So this week, let's turn these so-called "dangers" into something to celebrate. Stick these printable bookmarks in your favorite banned book, and let the world know that the freedom to read it is an intellectual right and privilege.
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose (my page in this book).
With autumn comes crisp winds, seasonal hot beverages, and the fiery frenzy of football season. Now the realms of literature and NFL football don't collide often—one notable exception being the Baltimore Ravens, who are named after Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem. Inspired by this fact, we thought, what if it was the other way around? What if novels took their cues from NFL team names? Here's what happens when you bring novels and the NFL to the line of scrimmage:
Come now, luxuriant Graces and beautiful-haired Muses.
As you know, this week at Camp Plot-a-Wanna, it was a war of the wits and words as campers went head to head in our traditional COLOR WAR. As the staff amanuensis, I have taken it upon myself to remit this record of Team Scarlet Letter vs. Team Black Beauty as they faced each other for glory, honor, and extra dessert at the dining hall!
Let the games BEGIN!
Tug of Words
Pull! Pull! Each team grabs hold of an extra-long string of verbiage and yanks until someone bites the dust. Campers Verne and and Bradbury headed up their respective teams (though Camper Rand refused to participate, as such a team activity was not in her individual interest) and gave it a go.
Winner: Team Black Beauty
One camper from each team does battle with bons mots and barbed remarks. After a protracted pit of pithiness, Camper Austen razor-tongued the competition to shreds.
Winner: Team Scarlet Letter
Capture the Sentence Fragment
Campers run, jump, and climb in search of one little piece of language. A piece that by itself is not a complete sentence. Camper Stein showed remarkable aptitude for locating untethered, almost nonsensical clauses, bringing her team victory in a landslide.
Winner: Team Scarlet Letter
Egg and Spoonerism Race
Hiss and lear! Campers compete to make the goofiest transpositions without dropping their precious egg. Although it seemed early on that Camper Geisel had a plaster man for success, Camper Carroll was off like a well-boiled icicle and soon dealt the opposition a blushing crow. Judges were moon sixed-up and unable to wronounce a pinner.
Plot Hole Filling
Fill in, pad out, and info-dump to get those gaping story gaps plugged! Campers A., C., and E. Brontë did their best to flesh out their stories with extended passages of smoldering yet static exposition, but in the end it was Camper Tolkien who piled up secondary characters, invented languages, and long, almost meaningless digressions into song to fill his plot hole first.
Winner: Team Black Beauty
Ready, aim, fire! Armed with slingshots, campers do their best to sling their storylines as far as they could into the abyss. Though Camper Woolf started strong with a line drive, her subsequent shots hooked into the Stream of Consciousness and were disqualified, leaving a clear yellow brick road to victory for straight-shooting Camper Baum.
Winner: Team Black Beauty
And they passed by the streams of Okeanos and the White Rock and past the Gates of the Sun and the District of Dreams. Counselors, please treat any and all members of the winning team to seconds of Turkish Delight at the feast tonight.
We're having way too much fun with this "Straight Outta" meme generator.
Breakups can be the pit stains on the t-shirt of life, this we know. But for each heartache and heartbreak, there’s always solace to be found in a song that captures exactly how it feels to be kicked in the emotions. It’s the song that you play on repeat, belt out at karaoke after too many drinks, and feel each individual lyric like it was the truest thing ever said about love. So whether it’s your first (thank you, Usher) or your latest (thank you, Gotye), a cathartic break-up song now and again does wonders for the bruised of heart.
So we had to wonder…what are the perfect break-up songs for some of the more iconic romantic tragedies in literature? What should Heathcliff listen to as he weeps into his half-gallon of Breyer’s Heath Bar Ice Cream? (Because really, what other ice cream flavor would Heathcliff buy?)
What can we say, the brooding orphan man knows how to hold a grudge. It takes serious dedication to exact a revenge as thorough as Heathcliff’s. And we think Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” with its themes of obsession and the dark side of love, is the perfect anthem to Catherine and Heathcliff’s tumultuous lifelong affair. You can almost hear Heathcliff sing-shouting, “I don’t want to be frieeeeeeeeends!” across the foggy moors.
Lyric That Nailed It
I want your love and
I want your revenge
I want your love
I don’t wanna be friends
Jay really could have used a dose of this song’s perspective when it came to trying to impress Daisy. Rather than spending all that money on parties and all that time staring at green lights, Jay could have just seen Tom and Daisy driving by and thought, “f**k that, old sport.”
Lyric That Nailed It
Now I know, that I had to borrow,
Beg and steal and lie and cheat.
Trying to keep ya, trying to please ya.
'Cause being in love with your a** ain't cheap.
Man, Anna Karenina could not get a break in Tolstoy’s (nearly) 350,000-word tome. But what can you expect when falling for someone who is totally flirting with someone else when you meet him? With “Trouble,” Taylor Swift knows a thing or two about falling in love when it’s clearly a bad idea. Plus, the line, “lying on the cold hard ground,” takes on a much more sinister meaning in Anna Karenina’s context.
Lyric That Nailed It
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground
I think we can all agree that Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” is the modern version of quintessential unrequited love ballad, “On My Own,” from the musical Les Miserables. Not only do they share similar titles, but both songs sum up what it feels like to be friend-zoned and overlooked. Girl, we’ve been there, we feel you.
Lyric That Nailed It
I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her
I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the girl you’re taking home
I keep dancing on my own
Forbidden love at its most medieval—not only do Lancelot and Guinevere betray their spouses, but in some interpretations of Arthurian legend, they kick off the downfall of Camelot. The heart-wrenching “9 Crimes” is well-suited for this guilt-laden duo. The haunting vocals by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, plus lots of slow piano and cello, makes for….WHY IS IT SUDDENLY RAINING ON MY FACE?
Lyric That Nailed It
Leave me out with the waste
This is not what I do
It’s the wrong kind of place
To be thinking of you
It’s the wrong time
For somebody new
It’s a small crime
And I’ve got no excuse
Nobody does jilted, vengeful wife quite like Euripedes’ Medea. You can feel the fury and pain boil off her as she plots against former husband Jason, complete with cannibalism and poisoned diadems! And seeing as nobody has done a better “bitter ex” song since Alanis' “You Oughta Know,” we think Medea must have been vibing off that acrimonious energy.
Lyric That Nailed It
'Cause the joke that you laid in the bed
That was me, and I’m not going to fade as soon
As you close your eyes, and you know it
And every time I scratch my nails
Down someone else’s back, I hope you feel it
Well, can you feel it?!
To: Camp Plot-a-Wanna senior counselors
From: Camp Counselor Bill Shakespeare
At last night’s weenie and marshmallow roast, camper H. Lovecraft (Underwood Cabin) suggested the group tell scary stories around the campfire. He offered to begin a story, which the other campers could then add to. Things didn’t go exactly as planned. Here’s a transcript:
Camper Lovecraft began:
Night had fallen, draping a crepuscular pall upon the corpse of the weak and sickly twilight that preceded it. And this particular moonless nightfall seemed truly determined to snuff out all earthly sensations save for an unspeakable dread. As two young lovers shifted uneasily in the front seats of their parked automobile, they each could scarcely credit the fantastic whispers that played just beneath their faculties like the dream-soaked melody of a mad deity. Shuddering not from cold but out of some proto-human perception of the unearthly, the young man reached over and activated the vehicle’s radio receiver. It was his sincere hope that the warmth of another human voice, perhaps accompanied by a pleasant musical diversion of one sort or another, would go some way to placate the unease which chewed on his disposition like a blind maggot. But neither he nor his anxious paramour were put to ease by the troubled speech which belched hollowly from the device. The pair listened paralyzing horror as the gibbering voice of a radio programme announcer issued a dire warning pending to the sighting of a hideous bloated servant of the Elder Things, a blasphemous protoplasmic entity known as a Shoggoth. Furthermore, as described in the radio-wave broadcast message, the shapeless terror had last been seen slithering with unhuman kinesis in the very vicinity where the two increasingly horrified listeners huddled in rapt hysteria.
He seemed like he was never going to finish, or even take a breath between sentences, and the other campers were growing visibly annoyed. Finally another camper, E. Bronte (Pencilpoint Camper) interrupted:
“I say,” spoke the man, breaking the silence that hitherto hung over them both like the scent of sweet-william after an April shower, “perhaps we ought to discuss some means by which we might extricate us from this disagreeable and perhaps jeopardous position in which we find ourselves.”
“Indeed?” the woman answered coolly. “Though you no doubt reference the unfortunate revelation of an eldritch fiend in an inconvenient proximity to the very horseless conveyance in which we currently reside, I apprehend that you might speak the very same words in regard to the counterfeit sentiment you offer me in place of love.”
“I scarcely expect to receive such scorn from you,” the man replied, “Not leastwise in recompense for the many kindnesses I have shown you since your appearance on the doorstep of my household as a starving pauper, and all the more so considering the ghastly boneless ogre which prowls these moors and would gobble us up like moldy breadcakes.”
“How convenient, sir,” the woman retorted without pause, “That whenever our conversation turns to matters of the heart, it seems that Providence decrees the imminent threat of some Elder Gods or Great Old One or some horrific servant of the same. Indeed, one might think that to a gentleman, the possibility of marriage holds greater terrors than to have one’s sanity rent by a cosmic monstrosity.”
“Perhaps,” the man said after a moment, clearing his throat and reaching for the door of their carriage, “I had better investigate our surroundings for signs of the wretched beast.”
“Fine,” she said to him. “It does good to no woman to be flattered by a man who does not intend to marry her.”
“But I didn’t say—” And then the man thought better of responding, and exited the vehicle as if desperate to plunge into the miry wilds whence there is no extrication.
Most of the campers were content to let Bronte tell her part of the story, but camper A. Rand (also Pencilpoint Cabin…she and Camper Bronte do not get along) became increasingly agitated and quickly picked up the story when the time came:
Outside the car the man stopped abruptly. He felt no emotion, only the clarity of a man who lived for the sake of no one but himself. He was a rational man who desired only rational goals, and to not be eaten by a Shoggoth was a perfectly rational value. And it was in the pursuit of rational values that one performed rational acts, which were the only joy in life, that and money, which was the root of all good. So really, as long as the Shoggoth didn’t eat him or his wallet, he had nothing to fear. As for the woman, he was under no obligation to put his own life at risk for her any more than she was obliged to risk her life for him. Besides, she was probably a moocher, or a looter, it was hard to remember the difference. Either way he wasn’t into her looks.
Camper Rand finished her segment with a satisfied smirk. The rest of the group looked completely perplexed by everything she had said. Then camper L. Carroll jumped up and began to speak:
“Are you the monster I’ve been worrying about?” the girl said as a 15-foot horror slid its gelatinous maw around the car.
“I don’t know,” said the monster, who was able to speak clearly because, luckily, it had many other mouths besides the one it was using to eat with.
“You don’t know if you’re a monster?” she asked him, trying to be polite even though a strange kind of ichorous mucous was seeping in through the windows and dripping all over the dashboard.
“Oh, I’m sure I’m a monster,” the thing answered. “But how am I to know if I’m the monster you were worrying about? I have no idea what’s going on inside your head, of course.”
“But I know what’s going on in your head: me,” said the girl in the car. “And soon I’ll be going on inside your stomach. Must you continue to devour me? It’s really quite rude, don’t you see?”
“I don’t see,” said the monster. “As all my eyes are currently closed up and located on the far side of my body. And I’m not devouring you, I’m devouring your car. The fact that you are inside of it is no concern of mine. I didn’t put you in there.”
“Well,” the girl asked, “Can’t you stop devouring for one moment so I can get out of the car? Take a break.”
“Take a break?” The monster seemed confused, though it continued to work the car into its wriggling gullet. “How exactly does one take a break? I know how to make a break. But once something is broken, how can that break be taken away by someone else?”
“Look,” said the girl, “All you’re doing is making a literal interpretation of everything I’m saying. That’s a pretty lazy form of humor, not to mention annoying. And furthermore…”
But by then the monster had swallowed the car, and was slithering rapidly away, as it was late for a tea party.
Camper Carroll took a bow even though no one applauded.
Amidst all the eye-rolling and yawns, camper E. Hemingway (Ballpoint Cabin) staggered to his feet. He was clearly half-soused. (Any luck on finding out who’s been sneaking alcohol into camp?)
He stared into the campfire silently for a minute, then slurred out these lines before staggering into the woods (where, judging by the sounds, he urinated against the side of a tree for five minutes straight, then punched an opossum in the face.):
The guy watched the car get eaten. He shrugged, thinking, “Life isn't hard to manage when you've nothing to lose.
That pretty much ended things. Lovecraft was so upset he threw his marshmallow into the fire and declared that he would never again allow other writers to work with his story ideas.
I suggest that in the future, we not ask the writers to collaborate. It never seems to go well.
CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA is a weekly 8-part series where Quirk Books staffers reimagine famous authors as pre-teens, stuck together at summer camp. Check out the brochure here, get acquainted with camp, and see the lunch menu. It is also an entirely fictional place. Please don't have your parents drop you off at our offices with sleeping bags.
In a world where your sunset photos have to be perfectly aligned and your food artfully arranged on quirky mismatched dishware—how do you up the Instagram ante with your book photos? Here are some tips to help you become a master of the perfect Bookstagram photo. No messy, disorganized bookshelves under this #shelfie tag.
image via @bookmarauder
Think outside the box – or book jacket
Don't be afraid to strip down your books. Take the book out of its jacket and see if it has a cover in a striking color or features a cool font. Open the book to take a picture of the splayed pages or take a picture of the spine. Some instagrammers like to feature books with complimentary-color covers together, or books with contrasting-color covers. You can group by author, genre, almost any common thread you can think of – and bonus points if it’s one other people haven’t thought of before.
image via @subwaybookreview
Have a signature style
Your shots should have some kind of recognizable quirk that your followers can quickly pick up as your signature style. Another way to stand out is to focus on a certain genre. Photographing fantasy books or YA exclusively gives your insta a distinct niche and point of view, and fans of those genres are more likely to follow you. Alternatively, you could always put your personality forward in your captions. You could try always giving a 5 word review, tell where you bought or read a book, or make comparisons to more well-known books to let your followers know the vibe of the novel.
image via @blueeyedbiblio
One of my favorite things about the best #bookstagrammers on my feed are the awesome props they use in their photos. You might not think of a coffee cup or a cute pen as a prop, but that’s what they are when you’re composing a photo. I love unique bookmarks like the one by MyBookmark, featured above, or the wooden #currentlyreading booksmarks by nook & burrow. Everyone can enjoy a new bookish find like bookstore-scented candles or a Divergent necklace and featuring those items in a book photo can provide a way more interesting way to showcase them. It can also be fun to use something that expresses another part of your personality as a prop - like your Captain America bobblehead, or a combination outfit/book photo to show off your fashion. Maybe place a book next to your iPod showing the album you’re listening to. Don’t feel like it has to be just about books.
Location and Lighting
Unless you have some a professional studio, I generally advise sticking to natural light. It’s, well, the most natural! Photographing books can be tricky because the covers can reflect the glare of a flash or an overhead light. You don’t need your book to look like it is specially lit, you just want consistency and at a bare minimum to be able to see everything and not to have a fuzzy photo. Selfie rules apply – if your bed isn’t made and it’s not intentionally part of the shot, don’t include it in the frame of the photo. You might want the photo to be a snapshot of your life, and your life may include clutter, but unless it’s artfully arranged it can make a photo too busy or just not aesthetically pleasing.
image via @strandbookstore
Here are some of our favorite bookstagrammers.
I love @blueeyedbiblio and through her account I’ve discovered her whole awesome book dragons pack. I’m regularly inspired by @bookmaurader, @tinybookreviews, @lastnightsreading, and @subwaybookreview. Some publishers and other companies I enjoy on Instagram are @ChronicleBooks, @QuirkBooks, @litographs, @harperperennial. My own Instagram is @shinyandrea, and is a mix of books, fashion and food.
You can also follow popular hashtags like #bookstagram, #currentlyreading, #books, #reading, you get the idea. Using those hashtags can help you gain followers. When it comes to publishers and authors, following your favorites on Instagram is a great way to make connections. Don't forget to tag them in posts about their books!
CAMP PLOT-A-WANNA is a weekly 8-part series where Quirk Books staffers reimagine famous authors as pre-teens, stuck together at summer camp. Check out the brochure here, and get acquainted with camp here. It is also an entirely fictional place. Please don't have your parents drop you off at our offices with sleeping bags.
Gruel: Camp Plot-A-Wanna has large quantities of unused gruel due to no one ever asking for seconds at breakfast. Therefore we will be serving the surplus on Mondays for lunch.
Tea and Madeleines: Guaranteed to be memorable! Note: being lost in memories does not excuse campers from afternoon activities.
Soup Day! Campers have a choice of:
Clam Chowder: This authentic New England delicacy was recently delivered to the Plot-A-Wanna kitchens via a Nantucket whaling ship. Ingredients include clams, salt-pork, and ship biscuits with most of the weevils removed. Served with an accompanying lecture by Chef Melville on the difference between fast fish and loose fish.
Chicken Soup with Rice: It’s so nice. Sip it once, sip it twice.
As a preparation for the upcoming Color Wars, Wednesday has been designated Green Day*. Please choose from the following options:
Green Eggs and Ham: Thanks to unauthorized kitchen experiments by camper T. Geisel (Underwood Cabin), we have several servings of miscolored but otherwise edible ham and egg sandwiches available. Dining options include on a boat, with a goat, in a box, with a fox, in a house, or with a mouse (choose one).
Fried Green Tomatoes: Served with a small portion of secret-ingredient barbecue (limited quantity available; first-come, first-serve basis).
Soylent Green: This new-fangled synthetic food is an excellent choice if no more barbecue is available.
Also Available: A kale of two cities.
*not affiliated with the band Green Day
Oryx and Cake: Sample the unique and exotic flavor of a rare African antelope, followed by a delicious layer cake baked with eggs from genetically engineered chickens.
Avocado Stuffed with Crabmeat: Served under glass with a grape jelly garnet sauce.
Note: Due to past incidents of food poisoning, all campers must present signed wavers before eating. Electroshock therapy sessions available as needed.
As per camp policy, campers are responsible for their own meals on weekends. Popular options include a picnic at hanging rock, breakfast at Tiffany’s, naked lunch, water for chocolate, a moveable feast, the restaurant at the end of the universe, and cooking in the night kitchen (open 6 -9 pm).