Utne Reader's library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what's landing in our library each week in 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the latest edition.
A strange puppet show debuted in our office this week, thanks to the arrival of four friendly monsters made of small brown paper bags and glued-on body (or robot) parts. These jolly characters, one of whom appears at left, accompanied Paper Kitty, an enchanting zine that hosts a diverse troupe of illustrated personalities. Drawings are lovingly rendered throughout, and the zine's creator clearly relishes small details, even when they're peripheral to the story (as when three tiny mice share a thought bubble containing a wedge of Swiss cheese). There's plenty of room for writing as well, including a nice story about the author's visit to her elderly neighbor's house. Paper Kitty manages to seamlessly integrate text and illustrations -- something many zines seem to struggle with -- and remains remarkably uncrowded. -- Danielle Maestretti
Think Spanish informs and entertains aspiring Spanish speakers without the frustrating task of repeatedly flipping through a dictionary. The monthly magazine is written in Spanish for non-native speakers, with difficult vocabulary bolded and defined at the side of the page. Though there are grammar exercises in the back, Think Spanish doesn't read like a workbook. The January? issue contains articles on Argentine literary titan Jorge Luis Borges, eco-villages in Latin America, and the Fiesta de San Antonio in Spain. The magazine is one of several foreign-language titles put out by Second Language Publishing. -- Bennett Gordon
Inspired by Think Spanish, we offer From the Stacks' first venture into bilingual territory: Piensa en Espa?ol informa y divierte personas que quieren aprender espa?ol, sin la necesidad de un diccionario. La revista mensual es escrito en espa?ol para personas que no nacieron hablando espa?ol, con vocabulario oscurito y definido al lado de la pagina. Aunque hay ejercicios gram?ticos en la parte de atr?s de la revista, Piensa en Espa?ol no lea como un libro de la escuela. La edici?n de enero contiene art?culos sobre el tit?n literario de Argentina Jorge Lu?s Borges,? eco aldeas en Am?rica Latina, y la fiesta de San Antonio en Espa?a. La revista es uno de varios t?tulos de idiomas extranjeros publicado por Second Language Publishing. -- Bennett Gordon
For those unfamiliar with the zoobombing craze, the latest issue of Vancouver-based Momentum invites readers to head out to ?tropical? Portland, Oregon, for the fourth Mini-Bike Winter. The annual race stems from the subculture of zoobombers -- daredevils on bikes with 16-inch or smaller wheels. The impracticality of spinning downhill on an ant-sized bike need not deter the more practical-minded biker from Momentum: there's plenty in this issue for you, including reviews of new courier bags and an interview with a local maker of some creatively designed bags. Also in the December/January issue, Chris Keam follows the 'evolution of Critical Mass,' rides held in major cities world-wide on the last Friday of every month to promote and celebrate bicycling of every variety, be it on tiny bikes, training wheels, track bikes, tandems, or Mom's old cruiser. -- Evelyn Hampton
Seattle-based Cranked captures the undeniable influence of landscape on the Pacific Northwest's bike culture while managing to appeal to riders everywhere. Images of some of Seattle's best-known (and often most-loathed) hills accompany Issue #4's brief homage, 'The Hills I've Come to Love in Seattle.' The article's message -- embrace the hills -- would likely resonate with riders negotiating inclines from San Francisco to Boston. Like Momentum (see above), Cranked doesn't focus exclusively on local culture. For instance, the very detailed and thoroughly enjoyable, 'The Importance of the Bicycle to the Early Women's Liberation Movement,' recounts early anxieties about the corrupting influence of bicycles on women (cycling, it was thought, 'heats the blood... destroys feminine symmetry and poise' and is 'a disturber of internal organs'),? showing just how far our bikes have taken us. -- Evelyn Hampton
If the interplay of theology and social responsibility piques your interest, the latest issue of Friends Journal, a monthly Quaker publication, is definitely worth checking out. The compilation of socially conscious articles, book reviews, poetry, and news is accessible to curious non-Quakers. The January issue explores the increasingly familiar topic of US oil dependency in 'Questions for Quakers about Cars.' Benjamin J. Vail argues that the way of life Americans have built around the car has social, economic, and moral parallels to the once seemingly indestructible institution of slavery. Even if you don't agree with the Vail's views, his article is thought-provoking, to say the least.-- Jenna Fisher
Elizabeth Haidle's drawings of hybrid animals, aptly named clawtapuss, capybatta, and snailaroo, are my favorite aspect of Carousel's volume 20. The delightful cross-species creatures look like they belong in some futuristic biology textbook, and are just one of the engaging visual features found in the publication, which sets a high standard for the genre of hybrid literary and arts magazines. Based in Ontario, Carousel offers a fresh display of fiction, poetry and artistic endeavors each spring and fall. The prose features are engulfed by white space and frequently alternate with visual images, making each page seem like an experience in itself. Expect montages, graphic novel strips, and, at times, a visual sensory overload. -- Elizabeth Ryan