Have you seen these fantastic monthly columns in the Believer by Nick Hornby? He breaks down his month by the books he's reading, books bought, and the books lying next to the bed in the 'to read' pile.
Full disclosure before I annotate a bibliography and share with you all: I hardly ever finish a book I start. A pile of books is an expression of hope—not a true, real-time testament of one's ability to study and finish a text. Hornby, a father, gets the blur that is parenthood and lets all of us off the hook: certain books attempted while young children are underfoot or tucked in (or just breathing) are a complete impossibility. So don't pack the hospital delivery go-bag with that copy of Swann's Way you've been meaning to get to all these years.
Today's post is my riff on his fantastic column. OK, here goes...
Books I'm reading
Past & Present. Amy Azzarito, Managing Editor at Design Sponge (and a fellow librarian) is the author of this gateway book into the history of Decorative Arts. Did you know that the Shakers had a hand in the origin of our Real Simple / Martha Stewart obsession with organization and storage? Or that studiolos, mini showcases of collectibles within the library of one's home, gave rise to the modern museum as we know it?
Jamberry. My two year-old daughter chants "Bruce Degen," the author of this trippy romp of a picture book. We read it every. Single. Day.
Books I've Bought
The Language of Art by Ann Pelo. My best friend tipped me off on this amazing resource for art educators. The idea is that you can use art with toddlers and pre-school children as a way to look at the world, investigate a problem or an idea, or record a memory. The catch-22: I have a toddler, so I will be finishing this book just as she's ready for kindergarten.
Books in my 'To Read' Pile
Yellow Owl's Little Prints by Christine Schmidt. A beautifully illustrated and designed book filled with art projects to make for children and with children. I love everything that comes out of this studio (Yellow Owl Workshop) so I'm super excited to dig into this 14-day loan.
MFA vs NYC (edited by Chad Harbach). Published by n+1, NYC's slightly more caffeinated and cynical serial to the West Coast's Believer, this collection of essays formed around Harbach's attempt to explore the two (outrageously expensive or difficult) choices that now exist for the emerging American writer: get an MFA or go to NYC. Harbach asks us to approach this book by imagining our 'composite heroine' as a fiction writer, circa 2014:
... her concentration is fragile, she wakes up too late and checks her email too often, she drinks too much coffee in the morning and too much wine at night. But she is always working, working, working, trying both to pay her rent and to put the way the world feels into words. Most often these tasks seem utterly incompatible; sometimes they convene and then separate again.
In her essay Basket Weaving 101, Maria Adelman, who was knee deep in an MFA program at the time, told her father that she had just written a novella: "'Novella?' he said. 'That chocolate spread?'"
Photos of pages from Past & Present by Amy Azzarito and Yellow Owl's Little Prints by Christine Schmidt.