Friday, March 1, 2019

Book Love

When the month began with wintry weather, I celebrated with books. As spring crept in, I took refuge in books. As we swing back to more seasonable weather, I am looking forward to starting a new book. No matter how I feel or what kind of day it is, I'm never far from a book. I've noticed in the past that when I am going through a difficult time, I find interludes of peace in the pages of novels or short stories more than nonfiction. Sometimes, if I am trying to learn about a specific topic, I'll immerse myself in nonfiction books on the topic. Most of the time, though, it's a mix of fiction, short stories, nonfiction and poetry, as it was in February, beginning with these few.

Abstract Expressionism edited by David Anfam
I found this book to be very informative. It gave a nice introduction on various aspects of abstract expressionism--the history, the evolution, the artists, and the people who made it a thing (Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons, primarily). Unlike a different book I read on the subject last month, this one included sculpture, like this work by David Smith.

I am a fan of abstract art. It’s not that I like all of it or that I dislike representational art. I dislike much abstract work and there is some representational work that I like, but whenever a piece of art makes my heart sing, it’s an abstract work of some kind. I spent some happy time with this book, partly because it was an interesting read, but also for the beautiful photographs of the artwork.
 The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
I found this book in a charity shop a while back, but hadn’t read it. It was always in a place where I wasn't seeing it all the time and I forgot about it until I discovered that the BBC Radio 4 Book Club discussion was with the author about this book. I pulled it from the shelf, finished the book I was reading, and read this one, so I could listen to the discussion. It wasn’t what I thought it would be somehow, but I enjoyed it a lot. The Guardian review here is not so kind to the book, with the reviewer saying it lacks plausibility. I don’t disagree with that and I had some of the same thoughts while reading, but it did not detract from the book for me, which I whipped through. The story revolves around a family in Amsterdam in late 1686 and early 1687. Nella Oortman arrives from the country, newly married to Johannes, a wealthy merchant who lives with his sister, a freed slave who now works for him, and a couple of other servants. She arrives alone and is puzzled when Johannes is not there to greet her. She is fascinated by Otto, the former slave and terrified by Marin, her new sister-in-law. Things happen that she does not understand. When Johannes gives her a cabinet house, whch is a replica of their house, things get even more strange. The book basically takes us along as Nella begins to understand what is happening and the consequences of those things play out.

Mid-Life Slices: An Anthology of Writing and Art by Women in Midlife, compiled and produced by Mary Manandhar, Maureen Howley, and Ita Conroy with additional photography by Peter Wilcock
The title says it all. This was a fun book to read. It was published several years ago, with all proceeds going to a Sligo cancer support organization.

Forbidden Fruit: A History of Books and Women in Art by Christiane Inmann
This book was fascinating. The author wrote about the history of book consumption through the ages, what sorts of books were considered acceptable to read, and how women with books have been subjects for artists. In addition to the narrative, this book is filled with photos.

And now I'm off to make some tea and crack open a new book. I hope you're enjoying a day filled with whatever makes you smile.

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