For fans of My Ideal Bookshelf and Bibliophile, The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book is the perfect gift for book lovers everywhere: a quirky and entertaining interactive guide to reading, featuring voicemails, literary Easter eggs, checklists, and more, from the creators of the popular multimedia project.
One night in 2014, two readers named Logan Smalley and Stephanie Kent discussed their favorite literary opening lines. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” one suggested. “All of this happened, more or less,” the other pointed out. And then, one phrase came immediately to mind: “Call Me Ishmael.”
As they talked more, the pair wondered what would happen if they invited readers to call a phone number and ask them to leave a voicemail about their most beloved books. But who would they be calling? Ishmael, of course. Soon, they had set up a working phone number (a 774 area code, a nod to Ishmael’s journey from New Bedford, Massachusetts) and an answering machine greeting. The initial calls they received from family, friends, and coworkers were touching, compelling, and surprising, and the voicemail count grew as word spread. As it did, Logan and Steph decided to take things further: they built actual rotary phones, which could be placed in libraries, schools, and bookstores, allowing readers to customize and listen to pre-loaded voicemails. In the time since, they have received thousands of phone calls from readers, librarians, and students across the United States that share stories about the books that have changed their lives, from The Catcher in the Rye and Beloved to The Sneetches and The House on Mango Street.
Now, in The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book, these messages are collected for book lovers everywhere. Designed in the style of the classic Yellow Pages, there is something exciting to discover on each page, from unique phone extensions that have been assigned to each voicemail, as well as transcripts of those calls, literary advertisements, bookstore checklists, bookish Easter eggs, all organized by category. It is a must-have for any bookshelf or nightstand.