Book Nerd Symptoms and Prescriptions … and Other News for May at the Porcupine’s Quill

Let me say up front that I’m mostly in it for the stories.

Being a book nerd is, in the great scheme, a rather complicated endeavour. The symptoms of the disease vary from patient to patient. Sometimes it manifests itself as a need to engage physically with a text—an urge to dog-ear pages or write in margins. Sometimes it presents as a compulsion to binge-read a glut of novels only to purge them from your collection via ruthless and immediate donation. Sometimes the only indications are a burning desire to organize one’s bookshelves in rainbow fashion and invest in an enviable quantity of tea and fuzzy socks.

doctor and patient

“I’m afraid the only viable treatment is to feed the fever. Buy an obscene amount of new books, obsess over the type, and make the best of it.”

To each his or her own.

My own book nerdishness is a multifaceted affliction characterized by more than just a love of a good story. To whit: a consumption pattern that fluctuates wildly between voracious and indifferent; an appreciation for stringently (if eclectically) organized bookshelves; and an obsessive aversion to cracked spines that leads to some truly ridiculous gyrations on my part in order to avoid the horrors thereof.

But on another level, I also find myself with a budding interest in the ins and outs of classy, understated book design, and the methods whereby designers past and present have sought to package the delightful gems that await readers between the covers. For years now, I’ve been wanting to know more about fonts—typefaces—and how they work together. I’ve got the vocabulary down, I think—ascenders and x-height and ligatures and so forth—but there’s so much rich history to enjoy, so much practical information to discover!

So of course when the task of creating some resources on these very topics fell upon my virtual desk, I was hooked.

You can see the fruits of this labour—and catch some of my interest in typefaces and other bookish design features, probably—by visiting these new resources pages on the website for the website of our journal of the printing arts, the Devil’s Artisan.

For some immediate eye-candy, check out the Endpapers page. There you’ll find some beautiful marbled and printed endpapers with a vintage vibe. “Can I use them?” you ask. Absolutely. All the endpapers have been uploaded as high-resolution printable JPEGs, ready for you to use in your design projects.

My personal favourite new resource is the P22 Type Specimens page. It currently features short studies of over a dozen fascinating fonts, written by P22 Type Foundry’s Richard Kegler. You can read about the history, development and important typefaces and download beautiful specimen pages. We’ve also included links for you to download the faces yourself, for use in your design projects.

So if you find yourself feeling slightly nerdy, this porcupette has your prescription: Read books. Lots of ’em. Enjoy the stories. Revel in the design. Go forth and learn. Feed the fever!


What’s happening this month…


This month, we’re focusing on finishing up production of Jeffery Donaldson’s gorgeous book Viaticum. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like inside the mind of a poet, you’ll want to check out this book. Donaldson’s musings on life and death, poetry and metaphor, mind and spirit are not just thought experiments but rather “poetic seedlings”—an artist’s first attempts to sniff around the big questions in preparation for exploring them in poetry. One of the most exciting parts about Viaticum for me is that we can see some of the fruits of this labour—the product of these seedlings—in Donaldson’s recent book of poetry, Fluke Print. Better together, as they say! Next on the docket: Daniel Bryant’s book of stories, Rerouted. Stay tuned!

In Toronto.

An exhibition of George A. Walker’s work is currently on at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. “Written in Wood: The Printmaking of George A. Walker” runs until May 17.

In Vancouver.

Jan in 35 Pieces author Ian Hampton will be attending the BC Book Prizes Gala in Vancouver. Tickets are still available if you’d like to know which books will take home the prize in each of seven categories.

In Dundas, ON.

We’re pleased to invite you to the launch of Jeffery Donaldson’s Viaticum at The Printed Word in Dundas on May 28. He’ll be reading with fellow poets Marilyn Gear Pilling and Roy Adams.

In the world.

May 9 is Lost Sock Memorial Day. Let’s all have a moment of silence.

May 11 is National Train Day. Did you know that I positively love taking the train? For me it’s like a vacation in and of itself. Lets give it up for trains!

And finally, May 27 is Sun Screen Day. If you’re as pale as I am, this is an essential day of thanks. When you go from day-glo white to tomato red under the unforgiving rays of the sun, you understand the importance of skin protection.


From the porcupette’s corner.

You might have noticed that something has been a bit … off lately. It’s not you, it’s us.

We’re sorry for the mess.

We’ve been having a few technical issues with our website lately, for which we humbly apologize. I assure you that we are working hard to iron out these technological troubles, and I invite you to get in touch if you have any difficulties accessing the information you need while we clean up the mess. Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

Thank you for your patience!

In other news, we’re hard at work on the transition to a new fiscal year—and a new season of great PQL books. So that means there’s some administrative stuff to work through, but it also means that we have exciting new books on the horizon. In addition to helping out with our grant reporting, I’m excited to get coding the first of our Fall 2019 titles. Coding is my happy place!

PortraitThanks for checking in with us this May. We’ll see you back here next month for another update!


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.