n. buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands
I've been looking for a word for this! It makes me very happy to know that I'm not alone--otherwise there'd be no need for this word: tsundoku.
My new year's resolution is to make a dent in the significant collection of books I have that are waiting to be read. They cry out to me at night like the sad dogs in the ASPCA commercials; I harden my heart and pull the oft-read copy of, say, Pride and Prejudice or Love in a Cold Climate from the shelf.
Why am I so resistant to starting new books? I love the idea of them. I adore reading book lists, especially annotated book lists. The end of the year is replete with book lists. I get inspired, I add to my Christmas list, I place library holds. But rarely do I read, choosing instead the old favorites.
This year I am inspired into action by this post at Quirk Books: New Year's Reading Resolutions. To direct my reading a little more rigorously I'm going to follow up on recommendations at Brain Pickings--if you haven't signed up for the weekly newsletter you are missing a real gem. I've bookmarked the Mega Summer Reading List from the TED talk blog--there's lots to anticipate here.
The photo above shows the collection of books I received as Christmas gifts. Our tradition is to make a wish list, and Christmas offers a chance to indulge in new authors or subjects. Often my list includes books that have just been published, usually lots of cookbooks are included, and then there are the outliers--books I saw at the bookstore and impulsively added to the list. From the top of the pile:
Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss
Recently I've been consumed by the idea of visiting Iceland, so when I saw this book on a table at my local bookstore I didn't hesitate to say to Gingko, "buy this for me for Christmas--I'll turn my back while you go to the counter." I'm a few pages into this and am enjoying the author's style--smart, observant, honest.
Love and Terror on the Rolling Plains of Nowhere: A Memoir by Poe Ballantine
You might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but most assuredly you can be drawn in by a title! The blurbs drew me in further: "Many of the sentences start on earth and end somewhere in beat-poet heaven" (Marion Winik); "He's like a bird that's almost but not quite extinct" (Cheryl Strayed). Haven't started this one yet. Another gift of patronizing an independent bookstore.
An aside: If you haven't seen the movie Nebraska yet, you should. Period.
Hmmm. It sounds kind of grim in the summary, but there is humor and pathos and human condition up the yazoo....
American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Soloman
I've become interested in biographies of artists recently, so this brand-new study of Norman Rockwell was a last-minute addition to my list. I hadn't actually ever given thought to Rockwell the person before--the illustrator was such a fully realized presence and the illustrations such complete stories in and of themselves that I never looked deeper. Rockwell was, in actuality, a complex figure with a complex life. The insights into his working process were very interesting and added depth to my viewing pleasure. American Mirror is a pretty easy read; however, I have to note that the author is not quite reliable (for example, she notes that Rosie the Riveter's eyes are closed in the picture when they most definitely are not), she makes some questionable leaps in psychological interpretations, and sometimes she voices some pretty facile conclusions ("the twenties sometimes seem too silly for words" (pg 130) ranks as about as shallow a response to history as I can recall). Even so, I enjoyed the book.
An Illustrated Journey by Danny Gregory
It must be pretty obvious that I'm fascinated by the artistic process! I've loved Gregory's An Illustrated Life, and after the sketching day in Rome I became intrigued by his collection of examples from "the private art journals of traveling artists, illustrators, and designers." Fun to dip into as I please, and it has hints for developing a sketching habit.
This follow-up volume by the inspirational Alice Waters concentrates on vegetables! I love her approach to cooking, emphasizing fresh ingredients prepared simply.
The Sunflowers Are Mine: The Story of Van Gogh's Masterpiece by Martin Bailey
I've just about finished this book, which concentrates on the seven famous sunflower paintings by Vincent van Gogh. By honing in on one particular theme and period in the artist's life the author can explore in detail the similarities and differences between each painting, how and why they were painted, the artist's responses to the work in progress, how the works relate to other flower still lifes of the period, etc--plus, Bailey follows up with the story of where each canvas went after van Gogh's death. This is a very beautiful book! Sometimes I find that I have to read art books with my iPad beside me to look up pictures that are referred to, but The Sunflowers Are Mine has reproduced almost every picture referenced in the text--love that.
The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti
What can I add to that title? Vegetable cookery coupled with lovely photographs. Perhaps not the go-to cookbook on vegetables (for me, that position goes to Marian Morash's out-of-print Victory Garden Cookbook) but a great addition. We are now dreaming over the 2014 seed catalogs--spring planting starts early here in California ....
Make Ahead Paleo by Tammy Credicott
I find that traveling really trips up my healthy diet, so I'm hoping to find some useful recipes in this volume.
So, tell me what you are reading these days!
On the Knitting Front
I've been knitting away on the Yellow Island sweater (on Ravelry this is shown as the Hillside Jacket--I changed my mind about the name). As you know, I like to include my initials and the date in my personal sweaters--but this one presented a challenge! I rushed to finish the date before new year's day made a liar out of me.
The mini-class list for the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat (February 13-16 in Tacoma, Washington) is being released today. I'm teaching a class on Purl Where You Can borders (Meg Swansen's technique for creating a patterned border without bulk that doesn't curl) and one on creating magic balls out of odds and ends of yarn to make serendipitous color discoveries.
I'm smack dab in the middle of reworking the Feral Knitter website! A big undertaking because it is a very complex site, with some 400 products in different sizes. I can't wait to unveil the revised site!