Cozy Up Under A Kotatsu For Winter Reading


Autumn is quickly leaving on little cat’s feet, and cold winter drafts will be winding around our legs before we know it. I’m already thinking about ways to stay warm while reading through the icy winter months. In the past, I’ve tried a combination of fleece warm-ups, Slankets and wool blankets, but they eventually become uncomfortable as they bunch and twist around me.

Image  via
Image via

Then I saw a picture of a Kotatsu, a Japanese design which may solve all of my problems. Although they’ve been around since the Muromachi period during the 14th century, they are new to many westerners like me.


A kotatsu is a low table frame covered by a futon, or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits. Underneath is a heat source.  Kotatsu are used almost exclusively in Japan, although similar devices are used in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Spain, Portugal, China, and Korea.

The underside of an electric kotatsu. Image courtesy of Hustvedt via Wikipedia.
The underside of an electric kotatsu. Image courtesy of Hustvedt via Wikipedia.

The modern kotatsu usually relies on an electric heater attached to the underside of the table, which makes them portable and relatively safer than antique coal burning stoves. Many different styles are available online.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Some are just the kotatsu table with a cover.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

While others provide a variety of seating options with back support or fold-out sleepers.

Image via Instructables
Image via Instructables

If you want to build your own, you can find a DIY tutorial here.

So keep warm this winter, and enjoy bookish goodness!


Book Domino Record Toppled at Frankfort Buchmesse

Sinners Domino Entertainment in Germany handily knocked down the Book Domino record by creating a 10,200 novel cascade for the Frankfort Book Fair.  Not too surprisingly, Hoffmann und Campe Verlag which distributes the 2016 version of the Guinness World Records book , organized the event. The record breaking event was held before crowds on October 14, 2015.

Following the Guinness World Records guidelines, after the first book was pushed down no other book in the assemblage was touched so that each piece had to fall down as a result of the initial contact

Source: Guinness World Records

Words and Works Come Together Beautifully in Artist Designed Book Shares


Indiana has taken a bold step commissioning local artists to design unique book share stations or lending libraries that are installed in public spaces around Indianapolis. This first ever Public Collection was developed by Rachel M. Simon to improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts, and raise awareness for education and social justice in our community.

To do this, Simon invited nine local artists to make book stations that doubled as sculptural works and placed them in various locations around Indianapolis.

Brian McCutcheon designed Monument 2015 at Monument Circle, a steel, aluminum, polycarbonate, fiberglass composite, and paint lending library.


 “Monument, 2015, makes formal reference to civic monument archetypes, with the twist of being modernized by color, material, and separation from a building. The lending library supports an 1894 Mark Twain quote that was written during the same time period as the construction of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.”

Brose Partington created Harvesting Knowledge at City Market.


“The sculpture represents the viewer’s ability to pick information much like food and, as such, harvest knowledge.”

Eric Nordgulen designed the Topiary at Indianapolis Cultural Trail.


“I wanted to design a sculpture that would draw attention to books, the importance of literacy and outreach, and the book sharing system. The sculpture is a series of linear vine forms that suggest growth and development, a kind of topiary composition that wraps around an existing planted garden space on the trail.”

Katie Hudnall made the Nautilus at Eskenazi Health.


“The body of this piece is loosely derived from the image of a boat on water and is designed to remind the viewer that books (and education in general) can be a form of transportation. Books can take us to other places and times, offer solace and distraction, arm us with the tools and information we need to solve problems in our daily lives, and make us more empathetic creatures.”

Kimberly McNeelan made the fort-like Evolution of Reading at White River State Park.


“Evolution of Reading is a modern, cave-like form that creates a unique educational experience about the history of reading and writing. Anyone that chooses to enter and explore the interior library will be surprised to find a timeline on the wall referencing the cave paintings, which are the first known form of written symbols. The concept is to convey the development in reading and writing in our history as a progression, which has resulted in the current goal to make books and information accessible to everyone.”

The bookish play station at the Indianapolis Museum of Art was made by LaShawnda Crowe Storm.


“Play Station is a mobile library for children. Play Station is constructed of three icons of childhood play—a Radio Flyer Red Wagon, Legos, and a chalkboard. Constructed from bright primary colors, Play Station is inviting and playful and can easily take a child’s mind off their circumstances for a short while.”

Phil O’Malley made The Answer is in the Question for the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center.


“This design, in the shape of a life-size question mark, becomes a mascot to the idea that knowledge is available at our fingertips as we ask the questions and look for the answers.”

Stuart Hyatt and S+Ca  made the colorful Table of Contents at Horizon House.


“Table of Contents provides our most vulnerable neighbors with comfortable and inviting pavilions for reading and listening to audio books. The project was conceived and designed in direct collaboration with the “neighbors” of Horizon House who are experiencing homelessness.”


“The name Table of Contents reflects the project’s guiding conceptual framework: to provide ample space (a table) to hold books and audio CDs (contents) in a way that invites users to discover and interact with an expansive collection of materials. Similar to the manner in which a book’s table of contents presents an organizing guide to the contents within, our design aims to provide users a number of welcoming but unexpected points of entry into the pavilion and the materials therein.”

Tom Torluemke created the whimsical Cool Books, Food For Thought displayed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.


“Like a children’s book illustration, imagine the magic visitors experience when they approach a stunningly crafted, wood refrigerator in the corridor off of the lobby of the museum. When they open the door, the light goes on, illuminating the possibilities of books they can read.”


 “A refrigerator may be the most often used item in people’s homes. It’s welcoming and draws one to it. It spontaneously inspires use, encourages togetherness, and leads to good health.”

Source: The Public Collection


Grand Private Libraries: The Harlan Crow Estate

Unattributed Image via Pinterest.
Unattributed Image via Pinterest.

Highland Park in Dallas has long been recognized as the home place of fabulously wealthy Texans. The Harlan Crow Estate on Preston Road, however, features an amazing library wing filled with a collection that would be the envy of many small college libraries.

Unattributed Image via Pinterest
Unattributed Image via Pinterest


The library wing, added to the original home in 2002, includes floor-to-ceiling bookcases of gleaming dark cabinetry on two spacious levels. Sumptuous oriental rugs soften the floors, and add to the hushed, contemplative ambiance.

Unattributed Image via Pinterest
Unattributed Image via Pinterest

This  setting is ideal for loosing oneself in the fascinating documents housed in protective cases. Some of the documents’ signatures read Ponce de Leon, George Washington, Robert E. Lee and all the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Unattributed Image via Pinterest

Unattributed Image via Pinterest

With a collection of more than 10,000 books and more than 5,000 manuscripts, Crow’s is said to be one of the most significant collections in the nation outside of the Library of Congress. Highlights include a 1493 pamphlet based on Christopher Columbus’ hand-written letter to King Ferdinand. The library also has one of four known copies of Amerigo Vespucci’s Mundus Novus, which contains the first published use of the phrase “New World,” and William Pierce’s hand-written notes from the Constitutional Convention in 1787 .

Other notable books and manuscripts include doodles by Abraham Lincoln; Frederick Douglass’ bible; Napoleon’s writing desk, and Duke of Wellington’s sword from 1815.

On an antique table is a signed copy of Churchill’s book on fly fishing.

Image Courtesy of the Society of the History of Discoveries
Image Courtesy of the Society of the History of Discoveries

Like other libraries though, the Harlan Crow Estate has been the center of considerable controversy. While the interior of the library houses great works of art and literature, the library grounds showcases what many believe to be a statuary rogues’ gallery of political figures representative of more than a century of politics, upheaval, and repressive regimes.

File/The New York Times via Dallas Morning News

File/The New York Times via Dallas Morning News


Still, Harlan Crow has said he hopes to open his library to the public one day. He further hopes it will be used for both scholarly and schoolboy research.

Although I have never been able to fit the definition of a “schoolboy,” I hope to visit the library.