& Coffee Table Corner: Wordplay

If the title of today’s Coffee Table Corner made you think of the Jason Mraz song, 1.) Good on you, and 2.) I totally planned it that way. I may or may not be humming along to the song right now.

I have stumbled across a few fun fake-word related titles recently, and thought they would make a great coffee table post. They’re short, accessible, and often illustrated with fun little drawings. Plus it’s great to say the made-up words out loud. It makes people think you’re a little crazy.

That Should Be a Word by Lizzie Skurnick. Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, April 2015

That Should Be a Word by Lizzie Skurnick. Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, April 2015

Because you know what? That should be a word! This book says what everyone is thinking.

Starting off as a column in The New York Times Magazine, Lizzie Skurnik’s book points out such gems as “manecdote” (the stories men tell each other), and “flaudit” (pointed insult masked by praise). It’s not uncommon to read one of these words and go “Wait, isn’t that actually a word? Already?” or to see how the word came about – its roots, its synonyms, its rhyming syllables. Skurnik is very clever, as is her book.

 

 

 

 

 

The Made-Up Words Project by Rinee Shah. Publisher: Knock Knock, June 2015

The Made-Up Words Project by Rinee Shah. Publisher: Knock Knock, June 2015

In the same vein is The Made-Up Words Project. Inspired by the words friends and family make up to explain a previously unexplainable phenomenon, or sparked from inside jokes, Rinee Shah lends her adorable/amazing illustrations to the hundreds of submissions she’s received since starting the project. I have a lot of favorites, but in particular: “nurdeling,” or sticking (often wiggling) one’s cold feet under someone’s butt on the couch (I think I like this one because I have perpetually cold feet and have probably disturbed a good handful of family and friends with my attempts to get them warm again). And “yamb,” or Yet Another Miscellaneous Bag. Because I have a ton of those. And do I ever have one in hand when going grocery shopping? No. So do I often buy yet another one so I don’t feel guilty sheathing my wares in plastic? YEP.

Have a Little Pun by Frida Clements. Publisher: Chronicle Books, August 2015

Have a Little Pun by Frida Clements. Publisher: Chronicle Books, August 2015

Annnnd finally…I love bad jokes. Puns. Clever riddles. I have been impressing my new coworkers with my ability to guess/intuit the answers to Laffy Taffy jokes (Why did Johnny take a ruler to bed with him? So he could measure how long he slept! Where do sick boats go? The dock!) and recently, one of my best friends said that whenever she sees or hears something having to do with “bad Dad jokes,” she thinks of me.

That probably should not be flattering, but puns make me giggle! They’re simple, and they’re pure fun. And now there’s a book that appreciates my awkward humor. Have a Little Pun features fantastic illustrations of some pretty terrible puns. An intricate seagull graced with the words “Hey Gull Friend,” a cheeky gopher face amidst “Gopher It,” and the perennial favorite: “For Fox Sake,” with a smug little fox smiling in the foreground.

I would be surprised if these coffee table beauties didn’t spark some brainstorming of your own. Maybe you’ll even submit something to The Made Up Word Project because of your new coffee table addition!

& Coffee Table Corner: Inspiration Station

Yep, I knew the title was going to be cheesy going into this post. Didn’t stop me. Not even a little!

There are books you keep on your coffee table because they are beautiful – glossy pages, vivid photographs, important-looking covers that look good displayed in your living room. There are books you keep there because they are funny – goofy illustrations, silly puns, bad jokes. And there are coffee table books you keep because they make you reflect. They’re meaningful, and powerful.

The World of PostSecret by Frank Warren. Publisher: William Morrow, October 2014

The World of PostSecret by Frank Warren. Publisher: William Morrow, October 2014

If you haven’t heard of PostSecret (I don’t know where you’ve been, but I’ll forgive you), you’re missing out. Send your secrets to Frank Warren’s house and he will post them anonymously on his website. Thousands upon thousands pour in. The cover of his most recent compilation The World of PostSecret shows just how many cross his path. Every Sunday he posts a few, and they can be equal parts earth-shattering, heartbreaking, hilarious, and somber. The books are beautiful, with nice paper, hefty hardcovers, and a great cross-section of humanity in their pages. At least check out postsecret.com. You owe it to yourself.

 

 

 

What's Your Story? by Brandon Doman. Publisher: Harper Design, May 2015

What’s Your Story? by Brandon Doman. Publisher: Harper Design, May 2015

What’s Your Story? immediately perked my ears when I passed it in a bookstore. Stories? I LOVE STORIES! I think the thought process went. Some pictures depict the process Brandon Doman went through to get complete strangers to write out some of their most vulnerable, painful, humorous stories. A little stand, with paper, writing utensils, and a way to seal away the stories set up shop in a city, and people felt compelled to spill their guts. Thousands of stories later, this book emerges. It’s two hundred tales is just a cross section of the stories the project has gathered, but it’s so lovely to flip through. The stories are in their writer’s original handwriting, some are a few sentences, some are pages long, some included doodles, sketches, writing in a circle, etc. etc. etc. I’m addicted to it.

Before I Die by Candy Chang. Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, November 2013

Before I Die by Candy Chang. Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin, November 2013

Ahhh the bucket list. You have one or you hate them. But when chalkboard installations went up all over the world with the fill-in-the-blank message “Before I die I want to _____,” people filled them to the borders. Wash it off when it was full and the board would be filled again. The chalk was provided. And again, you see a huge variety of responses, both amusing and pensive. This beautiful book shows  the similarities between cultures, the universal pain and fear and love that people put into their lives and wishes for the future. Love it 🙂

I think you should always choose to put things in your life that inspire you, including the furniture in your living room, so you tell me: what inspires you in your home? Do you have a favorite room or piece of furniture? An heirloom you treasure? Tell me your stories!

 

 

& Coffee Table Corner: Pop-Up Books

I don’t remember what my first ever reaction to a pop-book was, but it was probably full of awe and delight. A book that moved! A scene in 3-D! (although I probably didn’t have a clue what 3-D meant – I was most likely a toddler) And I still find pop-up books impressive. Especially with some of these crazy impressive, laser cut, multiple pop-up, expandable numbers coming out lately. Pop-up books aren’t just for kids and their ABC’s anymore.

Beauty and the Beast pop ups by Robert Sabuda. Publisher: Little Simon October 2010

Beauty and the Beast pop ups by Robert Sabuda. Publisher: Little Simon October 2010

I felt pretty dumb saying to one of my coworkers at the bookstore: “Have you heard of this Robert Sabuda guy? His pop-up books are amazing!” Turns out everyone seems to know who Robert Sabuda is. He is the name in pop-up books. He is Madonna. James Bond. Justin Bieber. Everyone knows who he is upon hearing his name.

Now THAT is a pop-up! From Alice in Wonderland

Now THAT is a pop-up! From Alice in Wonderland

But I first came across one of his books on a trip to the coast. In a maritime museum, this big book jumped out at me, The Little Mermaid on its spine. One of them was a display copy, un-plastic-wrapped, and as I cracked the spine, a huge undersea castle leapt from the page, a good foot tall. The illustrations have a stained glass quality, and the pop-ups are incredible. There is often one big one per page, with small flaps telling the story on the side, their own mini pop-ups hidden within. Sabuda has also done similar treatment to Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Winter’s Tale.

Just one of the pages from A Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros. Publisher: Insight Editions, March 2014

Just one of the pages from A Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros. Publisher: Insight Editions, March 2014

My significant other got not one, but two copies of the Game of Thrones Pop-Up Book two years ago for Christmas. We had it at the bookstore and our display copy was…well worn. The whole book expands into a huge map of the world created within the book series, so you can spread the whole thing out on your floor and have a miniature King’s Landing and off in the distance, an icy replica of The Wall. Great attention was paid to the detail on the castles and landscapes, and descriptions of scenes within the books and each setting are scrawled on each page (just don’t get the crap scared out of you by the White Walker pop-up near the middle – scary guys, those ones.)

The Pop-Up Book of Phobias by Gary Greenberg and Balvis Rubess. Publisher: Rob Weisbach Books, October 1999. I chose not to show you the inside of this one...

The Pop-Up Book of Phobias by Gary Greenberg and Balvis Rubess. Publisher: Rob Weisbach Books, October 1999. I chose not to show you the inside of this one…

And then someone decided it was a good idea to make a pop-up book of phobias. I think the thought process went something like this: Hmmmm…people sure are scared of a lot of things. I know! Let’s make it worse by making those fears jump out at them from the page!

But, if you want a way to terrorize guests flipping through your coffee table books, put The Pop-Up Book of Phobias there. I’m sure the nightmares from the creepy clown faces and a doctor lunging forward with a hypodermic needle will subside eventually (speaking of nightmares, there’s a pop-up book for that, too! Some people just want to watch the world burn…)

So for a pop-up book, you need some space…

Everyone remember the pallet craze? I feel like there were a few solid months where every piece of furniture flickering across my Facebook was made out of wood pallets: headboards, dining room tables, end tables, lamps. 

Pallet Coffee Table. Created here at this blog.

Pallet Coffee Table. Created here at this blog.

They’re certainly big enough for pop-up book purposes. And, if you use the whole pallet, they have built-in cubbies for the books!

Plus, wheels help. You know, so you can move the enormous thing.

How about you, readers? In love with pallet furniture? Have a favorite pop-up book?

& Coffee Table Corner: Steampunk

It is about time that I did a steampunk style Coffee Table post. Or a steampunk style post in general. It’s such a huge style and genre movement these days. I can’t turn my head on the Internet without seeing steampunk costumes, jewelry, novels, artwork.

It’s a happy medium between history buffs – Victorian England style, those big dresses, corsets, elaborate hair. And sci-fi buffs – clockwork engineering, antique-looking laser guns (wait…is that a steampunk thing?), enormous dirigibles and zeppelins.

The Tragedy Series: Secret Lobster Claws and Other Misfortunes by Benjamin Dewey. Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin.

The Tragedy Series: Secret Lobster Claws and Other Misfortunes by Benjamin Dewey. Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin.

So…what steampunk books should you display in your steampunk living room?

I saw a Tragedy series comic a couple years ago and loved the style. It was Tragedy #236: “Soulmates, each engrossed in same tome, never meet.” And it depicted two well-dressed, unknowing soulmates, reading books and walking in opposite directions.

It appealed to me as a book lover, plus I loved the way it was drawn. It was part of a tumblr series which has since expanded and been made into a book!

It’s all in sepia tones, each page with three funny, steampunk style tragedies. Some of them have basis in cliches or folk sayings, and some of them make no sense. But they’re guffaw-worthy, and look great on a coffee table for guests to pick up and giggle at.

Coloring with Your Octopus by Brian Kesinger. Publisher: Baby Tattoo Books

Coloring with Your Octopus by Brian Kesinger. Publisher: Baby Tattoo Books

But wait…there’s more!

Because apparently I can’t get through a post without including a coloring book these days, check out this steampunk coloring book with charming scenes of a girl (“Victoria Psismall”), and her magically-able-to-breath-on-land octopus (“Otto”).

Snake-charming, carousel-riding…color it all and then display your artwork on the walls of the same living room where this steampunk coloring book used to lie.

Mayfair's Signature Design by Ashley Coffee Table. Found here.

Mayfair’s Signature Design by Ashley Coffee Table. Found here.

There are lots of clockwork or machinery-themed coffee tables Unfortunately, a lot of them look deadly.

Like, I’d be afraid of “Death by Coffee Table” being put on my tombstone. Because I’m clumsy. And I would trip and gouge my face on a coffee table. That is something I would do.

But these two, by Mayfair and Restoration Hardware, are subtle enough that I think I might just get a bruise on my head.

Glass Top Furniture Factory Cart by Restoration Hardware. Found here.

Glass Top Furniture Factory Cart by Restoration Hardware. Found here.

They’re a nice compromise between old school wood coffee table and new school hardware. Plus, they’re on cool looking wheels. I’d probably spend whole afternoons just scooting them around the room for fun.

Hey, I’m easily amused.

What are your favorite steampunk titles, coffee table or otherwise?

& Coffee Table Corner: Grown Up Where’s Waldo

Like, seriously, what twisted individual came up with this scene in Where's Waldo??

Like, seriously, what twisted individual came up with this scene in Where’s Waldo??

Remember the Where’s Waldo books in those big, hardcover editions? The ones where you wore out the spine because you had to lay them flat to peer at the complex scenes? The ones in the doctor’s office, the ones your babysitter brought over? Anybody go nuts once or twice because you swear, they’re playing a joke on you and Waldo can’t actually be there?!

Yeah, we’ve all been there, I think. There have even been analyses on how to find our striped friend! A fellow named Randal S. Olson actually came up with an optimal search strategy here, in his post about being snowed in one weekend, analyzing kernel densities of where Waldo appears in all his books. And Slate ran a similar article, giving you graphed patterns for where Waldo emerges across the series.

So, you know, if you want to ruin your childhood a little or trounce your friends at a Where’s Waldo? party (can that be a thing? Where everyone comes dressed as Waldo?!), use those patterns.

Find Momo by Andrew Knapp. Publisher: Quirk Books.

Find Momo by Andrew Knapp. Publisher: Quirk Books.

Find Momo Coast to Coast by Andrew Knapp. Publisher: Quirk Books

Find Momo Coast to Coast by Andrew Knapp. Publisher: Quirk Books

But how about some easier, coffee table versions to display in your living room?

In Find Momo and Find Momo Coast to Coast, photographer Andrew Knapp has either taught his dog a rather strange but awesome trick, or his dog is just plain sneaky.

In both books, Momo the border collie hides behind national monuments, in grassy plains where you have to hunt to find his furry black head popping out from a corner, and my personal favorite, one in which he’s peering over the shoulder of a girl reading on some building steps. Some scenes are more difficult than others, and none of them are Where’s Waldo? hard, but I mean, come on…how stinking cute is that?

Where in the World is Koneko Cat? by Asuka Satow. Publisher: Andrews McNeel Publishing

Where in the World is Koneko Cat? by Asuka Satow. Publisher: Andrews McNeel Publishing

Speaking of cute, how about a coloring book and find-the-cute-cat-emoji-character, all in one??

Where in the World is Koneko Cat? is just that: complex coloring pages (get your fine-tipped markers ready for this one, folks), and tiny, adorable cats packed into each page.

You can play it Where’s Waldo? style and leave it at that, of course, but the color your own adventure style just seems fun 🙂

So what’s the perfect Waldo themed coffee table? One with a hidden compartment, of course!

This Magnussen Darien Coffee Table looks like a regular old brown coffee table. Some cool magazine slots in the sides, nice little drawers…but oh wait, the top is a secret compartment!

Plain old coffee table...

Plain old coffee table…

Secret coffee table!

Secret coffee table! Found here at Wayfair.

Whaaaaaat?

Just imagine the possibilities: snacks…favorite books…gifts you need to hide from family or friends coming over. Heck, keep your knitting in there!

Have you come across any cool Waldo style books? Do you still have your original copies of those tall hardcovers? What was your favorite/least favorite scene?

& Coffee Table Corner: Game Night

Let’s talk board games.

Like ’em? Loathe ’em? Only like the ones you can totally dominate at, but hate the ones that take forever or anything to do with a deck of cards? I get it all.

My family has a bookcase filled with board games. My dad has a weekly meeting with a buddy of his who has a full shed of board games, and he’s played a different one every week. Crazy, right?

So why not make some of my board games the focus of this week’s coffee table corner?

For the classics, I like SequenceQuirkle, good ol’ Pictionary and Scattergories. And my brother and I have a crazy psychic connection when it comes to Taboo. That’s the game where you have to get your partner to guess the code word, but you have a bunch of words you can’t say (which, of course, are the obvious clues to what your word is). He and I can get each other to guess words with the weirdest clues (usually having to do with TV shows or movies that we associate with that word).

Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. Just try me...any category.

Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. Just try me…any category.

ANYWAY. Trivial Pursuit is an oldie but a goodie. I’ve actually been to several restaurants where they keep small boxes of Trivial Pursuit cards for you to play with your dinner partner(s). And not only that, but the game comes in dozens of versions now. My new favorite? HARRY POTTER TRIVIAL PURSUIT. Ain’t nobody beating me at that game, man.

Spellcasting? Characters? Magical Locations? Bring it on. I’m a big Harry Potter nerd. Proud of it. My family got Harry Potter Scene It! one year (anyone else ever play Scene It! ? You popped in a DVD and answered questions about the clips it played), and I owned everyone else. Yep, big dweeb, right over here 🙂

Betrayal at House on the Hill by Wizards of the Coast. Which one of you is the traitor? Who will trigger the haunt?

Betrayal at House on the Hill by Wizards of the Coast. Which one of you is the traitor? Who will trigger the haunt?

My most recent board game crush is Betrayal at House on the Hill. Now, this one is a complex one. The rulebook alone is huge, and it takes a good half an hour or so to get your bearings on how to play. It does help to have someone there who has played it before.

Basically, you and 2+ of your closest family and/or friends are explorers in a haunted house. You start out with no board whatsoever, and you build the house with room cards as you move about. The rooms are ominous: Bloody Room, Catacombs, the Vault. The items and Omens you uncover even more so (a Madman can start following you around, you can take a chance on the Deadly Dice).

At one point, the Omens outweigh the dice rolls, and someone triggers the Haunt. Depending on where and with what triggers the Haunt, you play a different scenario every time. Then you’re split into Heroes and Traitor, in a race to make your side win.

See? It’s even complex to summarize! But it’s amazing. My family has played a couple rounds already, and now that we’re finally getting the hang of it, future game play is going to be awesome.

IKEA LIATORP coffee table. Found here.

IKEA LIATORP coffee table. Found here. Ever play the game: made up word or actual IKEA furniture? Surprisingly difficult…

For the coffee table? I’m thinking a display, glass top coffee table. One you can remove the top or slide out a drawer and resume your game, easy-peasy!

Plus, you can display your impressive board game (and gloat to guests if you’re in the process of winning!)

Allllll right. Are you a board game nut too? Which are your favorites?

 

Coffee Table Corner: Color Me Impressed

Hello all! Here’s the second ever Coffee Table Corner! Yay!

One of our number one requests at the store right now? Adult coloring books.

Yep. You read it right. At least five people a day (on a slow day) ask about them. I’m not sure what it is about the season or this time of year that have people feeling artistic or creative, but it’s definitely influenced the stock in the store. We have tables, endcaps, whole shelves full to bursting with “Zen Doodles,” “Earth Mandalas,” and “Color Me Happy” coloring books.

Man, I love me some sweet, sweet geometric designs. Dover coloring book found here.

Man, I love me some sweet, sweet geometric designs. Dover coloring book found here.

And, not to be a hipster or anything, but I was totally on this bandwagon before it was cool. My mom and I used to get those cheap, super intricate geometrical coloring books you find in Hallmark or even grocery stores. That and some cheap-o crayola markers or colored pencils, and we were set for vacation.

And anyone remember “stained glass” coloring books. Oh boy. Loved ’em.

But I am equally loving the detail and artwork found in the coloring books coming into the store. Most of them are gorgeous even without color (although if I framed and hung a blank coloring page on my wall, it might be kind of weird…)

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford. Found here.

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford. Found here.

My favorite book right now is Johanna Basford’s Enchanted Forest. Basford is a crazy talented illustrator, and this book is one hot item right now. I managed to snag a copy before it completely blew up and everyone and their grandmother wanted one, so getting yours might be tough (B&N AND Amazon are sold out online!!) Her other coloring book, Secret Garden, is just as popular. But I liked the story the pictures seemed to tell in Enchanted Forest better.

Oh man, there is simply not enough room to share all the awesome coloring books there are! Mandala ones have been super popular, although I tend to find repeating patterns boring to color after a while.

Animal Kingdom my Millie Marotta. Found here.

Animal Kingdom my Millie Marotta. Found here.

Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta is another awesome one. Intricate line drawings of animals and plants/flowers that are endlessly pretty and come in a variety of detail (meaning you could color one on your fifteen minute break, or while away an hour at a landscape).

Posh Coloring Book. Found here.

Posh Coloring Book. Found here.

Posh Coloring Book: Art Therapy for Fun & Relaxation is another one of my favorites. This one has designs as well as animals, and what’s cool is that some of them have bands of color to serve as a kind of inspiration, or blank spaces for you to doodle your own drawings to color in.

I am personally partial to colored pencils. I was an Architecture major my first year in college, and had to buy all kinds of expensive model building and art equipment. I became an English major my second year, but Prismacolor brand colored pencils stayed with me. They come in gorgeous colors, the pencils themselves are super sturdy and don’t break easily, and the thing I like best is I don’t have to press down hard to get great color coverage.

But I also love those Crayola Twistable colored pencils, so what do I know.

Cool, Sarah, you might be saying, but what the heck does this have to do with coffee table books?!

Really awesome geometric coffee table. Found at Wayfair.

Really awesome “Delilah coffee table.” Found at Wayfair.

Imagine this: you’re at a party, you’ve staked out a great spot on the host’s comfy couch and don’t want to give it up, plus you’re digging the people you’re having a conversation with. You look down and BAM! There just happens to be cool, modern, grown-up coloring books in front of you with a pencil cup filled with art materials.

Awesome. Coffee table-wise, I’m thinking one with some storage, either drawers or baskets for the drawing and coloring materials when you don’t want them out and cluttering up space. Wayfair is another one of those websites I like to window shop and drool over. Maybe I design dream living rooms for fun in my mind, so what?!

Whaddya think? Am I cuckoo for still liking to color? Are you an adult coloring aficionado? Do you Zentangle? And happy Wednesday!