Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories (vol. 1), is just that. It's not hard to explain, it doesn't take more than a few minutes to read through, but this book is so special in so many ways, that's the part that may be difficult to explain.

First off, the book is edited by actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, famous for films like 10 Things I Hate About You, Inception, and 50/50. And let's not forget the TV show Third Rock from the Sun! He also runs a really interesting website, It's a collaborative community where musicians, artists, writers, and other artsy types come together and "make stuff." They also split profits on their products and creations 50/50 with the contributors.
In short (har!), The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is a short (88 pages or so) collection of 31 "stories." The stories are bite-size...sometimes no more than a line or two, but what happens in those line and in the interplay between words and images is MAGIC.

This book was a winner for me in several ways, touching on nostalgia and an interest in visual storytelling and collaborative storytelling. The cover itself is a hit with me, touching on a deep-rooted nostalgia. When I was little, maybe 5 or 6 years old, my aunt bestowed upon me a copy of a small children's story book from the early 1900s. It was a Christmas book and the cover looked much like this one: a simple drawing with the image embedded in the hard cover. Just the feel of this little tiny book in my hands takes me back to those days and that early love of reading.

When I dug into the stories themselves, I found myself transported again. This time to graduate school and a blooming love of visual storytelling in a minute amount of space and few words. A prime example is Postsecret and the books that have resulted from that project. If you're not familiar, it started as a community art project. Individuals from around the world write a secret on a postcard and some of them are posted on the website. I was struck from the first day I read Postsecret by the brutal honesty in many of the cards and the impact just a few words can make.

Additionally, I was taken back to my blooming love of graphic narrative that began shortly before graduate school. While I was taking courses I was introduced to the work of Julie Doucet, a Canadian comics artist (formerly underground). Specifically, this book reminds me of her woooonderful book, Long Time Relationship. Split into six chapters, each is a narrative of its own, even if it's just a collection of hand-drawn portraits. It was like putting snippets of life together and seeing how they all mixed up and came together. At first it seemed random, but it eventually came together beautifully.

My experience with The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories was so very similar to these previous experiences, it reminded me and made me wonder WHY I haven't been reading more like this. Maybe there just isn't as much available as I'd like. Some of the stories were cute or pleasing enough, but others were humorous, and ironic, and some knocked me flat with the truth of them.

Click to view larger versions.

These were two of my favorites: the top has a touch of "The Story of an Hour" to it and the bottom one was just wonderfully, comically morbid.

I feel sort of guilty describing this book in terms of other books, but that's what this tiny volume did for me. It took me back to a couple of different times in my life (both of which were GREAT times to revisit), but it also gave me fresh stories and delivered them in a way I hadn't experienced in a long while.

I'm extremely pleased to report that this is the first in a three-volume set of Tiny Books. You can rest assured I will collect every stinkin'-adorable, sassy one of them for my book stash.

Snuggle (with big, squishy cheek pinching) -- Skewer

Pub. Date: December 2011
Publisher: It Books (an imprint of HarperCollins)
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0062121669
Source: It Books/HarperCollins sent along a copy for review.


  1. So fun. I had it pitched to me but it never came after I accepted it. I have it on my to buy list.

  2. Ha! Those are two of my favorites, too! Isn't TTBoTS awesome? I found myself flipping back and forth, rereading and studying the wonderful illustrations and thinking, "Oh, man, I wish I was clever like these people." What a fantastic little book. I'm either going to review it tomorrow or Monday.

  3. Pam, I'm sorry to hear it didn't arrive! That stinks. I think you'll enjoy it when you get around to it.

  4. Nancy, I did the same thing! I flipped back through probably three times. Looking forward to your review!

  5. Isn't this book fabulous! I've read it and have no idea how I'm going to review it. Maybe I can just copy and paste your review?

  6. No, little egg...don't do it!!!

    I had no idea who Joseph Gordon-Levitt was until you mentioned Third Rock (LOVED that show) and I googled him. It's good to see he's still doing wonderfully creative and fun things.

  7. LOL This looks so fun! and I loved 3rd rock!

  8. Like Pam, I accepted the pitch for this book but haven't received it yet. It's a bummer as it looks so cute and fabulous! I'll be sure to look out for it in the stores. I'm glad you liked it- I love the name and the look and the concept of it.

  9. I was taken with the cover of this one -- so good to know that the inside is just as captivating :)

    This sounds like the perfect read for the holidays -- something that you can pick up and put down easily, and that brings a smile to your face.

  10. I'll definitely have to get this one! My husband and I have collected those PostSecret books, we can't get enough of those. It's, like you said, the brutal honesty of some of those post cards are amazing.

  11. I have been reading Post Secret for years, and was lucky enough to get a chance to see a real life Post Secret exhibit at a museum one town over a few years ago.

    This book is just precious and adorable, and the two mini-stories that you highlighted have really swayed me into grabbing this book when I can. I love the one about the egg! This was a great and enthusiastic review, and I will definitely be looking for this book when I can. Thanks for sharing this!

  12. Sounds wonderful! I will have to check it out!

  13. Oh I want I want I want! I haven't heard of this but seriously, I want! ;)

    And you know, I don't think describing books in terms of othr books is necessarily bad!

  14. This sounds awesome! One of my favorite short stories reads simply:

    "It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man
    who's learning to play the violin."

    That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

  15. This book sounds so interesting. I'm hoping my library buys it soon.

  16. Awww, this looks delightful! I'm a bit sad that I've already done all my Christmas shopping. I feel like there's surely someone on my list who would want a tiny book of tiny stories.

  17. haha! The egg story is awesome. So cute and adorable in all of its impending doom.

  18. LOL, Kathy! Feel free. It is a fab little book, isn't it??

    Jill, his name didn't ring a bell right off for me either. But that face! I'd know him anywhere. 10 Things I Hate About You was an obsession for me growing up. Greatest teen movie EVER! Well, except for all the 80s ones. :)

  19. KIKA, it is SUPER FUN!

    Aarti, hopefully it'll still arrive. I hope you enjoy it!

    BookGirl, you are SO RIGHT. This was just the thing for my fried holiday brain.

    Amen, Kristina! I have the first or second PostSecret book, but I forgot to keep collecting! Would love to own the rest of those one day.

  20. Zibilee, so glad you stopped by. This book was fun and just delightful, so I hope you enjoy it.

    I'm totally envious of your access to the PostSecret exhibit! I bet that was amazing.

  21. Do it, Kelly, do it!

    Trish, it's not necessarily bad, but I think it has to be done "just so" so as not to get anyone's expectations out of whack. :)

    Trisha, LOVE that very short short story!

    Natasha, I hope so. Given your enjoyment of visual storytelling, I think you would really appreciate this one.

    Jenny, sadly, I think I am the only person on my shopping list who could appreciate this book. And is it weird that I'm on my own shopping list. lol

    Christy, I thought the same thing. It made me laugh and say, "aww!"


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