As we are keen readers as well as booksellers, we thought we would share with you what we’ve been reading. And we’ll indicate where the books are going into stock at the shop in case you want to read one of them too! And there’s a shelf of textiles books here: this is me sharing with you some of the books I have and enjoy reading or referring to for inspiration.
Still not keeping entirely up to date with my reading but I’ve just read Peter Ackroyd’s London Under (2011 Chatto & Windus ISBN 978 0701 169916). I’m a huge Peter Ackroyd fan and London is the essential landscape and main character of his writing, but this one slightly disappointed me. I liked the way it was organised thematically rather than chronologically, but it ended up feeling more like he was using up research material left over from his other books. Having said that, there were plenty of really interesting snippets in it. Going to shop.
I recently read Ackroyd’s Shakespeare: the Biography (Vintage 2006 ISBN 978–0749386559) and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a long time since I read a biography of Shakespeare and there has been so much research done in the last 20 years or so, but I had no idea of how close his links were with Catholic recusant communities in and around Stratford. Well worth reading. Gone to shop, and sold.
This probably should be on the textiles bookshelf but I’ve just finished Denise and Magdalena Rosenzweig’s Self portrait in a Velvet Dress — Frida’s Wardrobe: Fashion from the Museo Frida Kahlo (Chronicle Books 2008 ISBN 9780 8118 63445). This was a Christmas present to me and I’d dipped into it but not settled down to really read the text and it is fascinating both on Kahlo as artist and on Mexican ethnic textiles. Adopting ethnic clothing was both a political statement for Kahlo and a way of dressing that made her physical disabilities less obvious and the results were both some stunning self portraits and photographic portraits of her by others and a great collection of Mexican huipiles and skirts, locked away in her bathroom for 50 years on the order of Diego Rivera. Opened in 2004, it’s become an amazing insight into how Kahlo turned herself into an art work. Borrow a copy from your library! A painted silk top I’m just making is influenced by the shape of the huipiles in her wardrobe.…
Not having read any fantasy other than Terry Pratchett for a while, I picked up Chris Evans’ A Darkness Forged in Fire: The Iron Elves Book One (2009 Pocket Books ISBN 978–1847393814). Disappointing, derivative, and I found it hard to engage with the characters so won’t be bothering with later books but that’s only a personal view. Gone to shop.
Whoops — falling behind again despite my best intentions. I’ve been reading Alain de Botton How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997 Picador ISBN 9780330347624) and enjoying the wit and insight.
I’m currently reading Daniel Kalder’s Lost Cosmonaut (2007 Faber ISBN 0571227813) which is a travel book written by a professed anti-tourist, visiting parts of the former Soviet Union that will never make it into even a Lonely Planet guide. Great fun.
I’ve been sent as the most amazing present the following two books and am already devouring them:
Karolyn Kiisel: Draping — The Complete Course (2013 Laurence King ISBN 978 1 78067 2861). This looks as if it is going to be the perfect complement to my recent Draping Womenswear course at Central St Martins.
So much so that last night I stripped the padding off my mannequin that I’d had standing in for a large gentleman and at 1am could have been seen with pins and a piece of rust coloured material thinking about a new jacket.
By coincidence, yesterday I found a review of this book on my new favourite blog, Peter Lappin’s brilliant and wittily named Male Pattern Boldness: www.malepatternboldness.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/mpb-book-review-draping-complete-course.
I haven’t worked out how to tell the family there’s a new man in my life! I stumbled across the blog by accident a couple of weeks ago and now keep going back to it.
I’ve been an admirer of the work of the filmmaker and artist Derek Jarman for years — his film Caravaggio is one of my favourites, so to be sent Derek Jarman’s Sketchbooks edited by Stephen Farthing and Ed Webb-Ingall (2013 Thames & Hudson ISBN 978 0 500 516942) was another unexpected delight. Although they were definitely working documents, recording work in progress, ideas and inspirations, what is revealing is also how in a tactile and physical way, Jarman honoured his work and the journey.
Again, there’s a link back to how it was suggested that we use sketchbooks to record and develop ideas on my course, but here Jarman’s are works of art and artful works in their own right.
Sounds like I’ve not being doing enough reading, but I did gobble up at one sitting Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun (2000 Vintage ISBN 978–0679767398). I think in some ways it was more heartfelt and less cerebral than some of his fiction.
My first read of the year was Midori Kitamura’s Issey Miyake Pleats Please (2012 Taschen 978 3 836525756). Beautifully illustrated and a fantastic guide to this range of Miyake’s designs. Aren’t I a lucky girl (Christmas present!).
Perhaps because of being so busy, I have read less in December than I would like to, but I am once again reading Proust. This is partly the result of a challenge from a friend. I’m reading it in the Terence Kilmartin Penguin edition though I have the Scott Moncreiff version on my iPad as backup — on days when I dip into this, it now seems very purple prose and not that readable. I have been considering buying the new Penguin translation — may indulge in that. I do remember attempting to read Du Cote du chez Swann in French many years ago and having to give up — by the time I’d read to the end of a sentence, I’d forgotten what the beginning meant. I always feel a little self-conscious saying that I enjoy Proust, but I do. I’ve read the whole of In Search of Lost Time twice, and been back to Swann’s Way a couple more times, and I’m enjoying it once again. I’ll keep you updated as to progress.
I’ve also been reading James Joyce’s Ulysses on my iPad. I started a few months ago. What I decided that I had to do was simply to entirely disable any attempt at critical apparatus or understanding (the mirroring of Homer etc). I read a few pages whenever I want, I don’t try and relate it to anything outside the book, or any part of it I’ve read before, I just revel in the playfulness and vitality of Joyce’s language and inventiveness. I live in the moment of what is happening then in the book. The net result is I am really, genuinely enjoying it. I’m about a third of the way through and it’s been a delight not a chore. This is one of the delights of an ebook reader — it will never lose your page, and you’re not lugging a heavy book around in your handbag against the chance that you might get a minute or two to read it.
I’ve been dipping into E K Chambers — The Oxford Book of Sixteenth Century Verse with great pleasure. I do wonder who the anonymous writers were, as some of the poems are superb but there’s a great selection from the well known and lesser poets of the period.
Steve has been reading a lot in the last couple of months and I’m hoping to get him to share it with you soon — it includes a lot of Zen books.
- Madeline Miller — The Song of Achilles (2012 ISBN 978 1408821985). I don’t read as much fiction as I should do at present, and I came across this winner of the Orange Prize for 2012 almost by accident. It’s on offer at 99p in the Apple ibooks store at present so I read this as an ebook and all I can say is it was a damn good 99p’s worth! Miller is a classicist and academic and here she demonstrates that the old tales can be eternally reinvented as she retells the Iliad through the eyes of Patroclus. Good historical fiction and I read it almost in one go.
- Charlie Connelly — Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast (2004 ISBN 0316 72474 2). Not going to enter the lists of classic travel literature but an amusing and interesting read: ideal for reading in bed on a stormy night, when you’re glad you’re not at sea. Going to shop
- Virginia Woolf — A Room of One’s Own (1928 ISBN 978 0 14 1018980). We’ve both just read this elegant, entertaining and still relevant essay. Not just for feminists!
- Grayson Perry & Wendy Jones — A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl (2007 ISBN 978 0099485162). As indicated on the blog, we’re fans of Grayson Perry and this sharp and witty autobiography contains a number of insights into his artistic development. Gone to shop SOLD
- Bill Bryson — At Home: A Short History of Private Life (2011 978 055277 2556). A good way of presenting the considerable amount of information he’s amassed, as Bryson takes you on a room by room tour of the old rectory that is his family home. We both thought his Short History of Nearly Everything was a delight, and I’ve enjoyed this one too. Gone to shop
- Judith Clark et al — Hussein Chalayan (2011 978 08478 3386 3). Breathtaking work at the intersection of art and fashion. It’s an expensive but enthralling book: worth a trip to the library?
- Malcolm Haslam — Arts and Crafts Book Covers (2012 ISBN 978 0 9553741 80). Exhibition catalogue — wonderful illustrated guide to this perhaps neglected aspect of the Arts & Crafts movement.