By: Keith Houston
A charming and indispensable tour of two thousand years of the written word, Shady Characters weaves a fascinating trail across the parallel histories of language and typography.
Whether investigating the asterisk (*) and dagger (†)―which alternately illuminated and skewered heretical verses of the early Bible―or the at sign (@), which languished in obscurity for centuries until rescued by the Internet, Keith Houston draws on myriad sources to chart the life and times of these enigmatic squiggles, both exotic (¶) and everyday (&).
From the Library of Alexandria to the halls of Bell Labs, figures as diverse as Charlemagne, Vladimir Nabokov, and George W. Bush cross paths with marks as obscure as the interrobang (?) and as divisive as the dash (―). Ancient Roman graffiti, Venetian trading shorthand, Cold War double agents, and Madison Avenue round out an ever more diverse set of episodes, characters, and artifacts.
Richly illustrated, ranging across time, typographies, and countries, Shady Characters will delight and entertain all who cherish the unpredictable and surprising in the writing life.
2-color; 75 illustrations
Published in 2014.
Published by: W. W. Norton & Company
Why have all human cultures - today and throughout history - made music? Why does music excite such rich emotion? How do we make sense of musical sound?
These are questions that have, until recently, remained mysterious. Now The Music Instinct explores how the latest research in music psychology and brain science is piecing together the puzzle of how our minds understand and respond to music. Ranging from Bach fugues to nursery rhymes to heavy rock, Philip Ball interweaves philosophy, mathematics, history and neurology to reveal why music moves us in so many ways.
Without requiring any specialist knowledge, The Music Instinct will both deepen your appreciation of the music you love, and open doors to music that once seemed alien, dull or daunting, offering a passionate plea for the importance of music in education and in everyday life.
Published in 2011.
Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions.
A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live.
Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.
Published in 2014.
In an age when a storm was evidence of God’s wrath, pioneering meteorologists had to fight against convention and religious dogma to realise their ambitions. But buoyed by the achievements of the Enlightenment, a generation of mavericks set out to unlock the secrets of the atmosphere.
Meet Luke Howard, the first to classify the clouds, Francis Beaufort, quantifier of the winds, James Glaisher, explorer of the upper atmosphere by way of a hot air balloon, Samuel Morse, whose electric telegraph gave scientists the means by which to transmit weather warnings, and at the centre of it all Admiral Robert FitzRoy: master sailor, scientific pioneer and founder of the Met Office.
Peter Moore’s exhilarating account navigates treacherous seas, rough winds and uncovers the obsession that drove these men to great invention and greater understanding.
Published in 2016.