"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SATCHMO: The Wonderful World and Art of Louis Armstrong

One of the remarkable books that came out this season (books are like the fashion business) is "Sathmo: The Wonderful World and Art of Louis Armstorng."

While touring the world, Armstrong would carry a specially designed steamer trunk designed to house two reel-to-reel tape decks. For his endless boxes of tape he would make covers for them. With scotch tape, he would put images or photos or even telegrams/letters on these boxes as sort of do-it-yourself-art. They serve as a mixture of a visual diary as well as a very personal and moving artwork by this musical genius. Almost avant-garde "outside" art, Louis Armstrong had a strong sense of design and a good eye. Remarkable book and totally fascinating look into the VERY inside world of "Satchmo."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

At Last! The podcast: Books + Innuendo

So... may moons ago, there was a recording session. And a podcast was born. But the poor thing languished in a hardrive until now. So please excuse us for its out-of-dateness. We have had these files for quite a while, but we are going to release them anyway, because it was too much fun to record to not share it.

Plus, some of you who heard about Tosh's and my show have been asking.

So here is a teaser. Episode 1: (click the magic orange box below)


Getting your shit together.

Over the past month, I have been stuck on the couch quite a lot due to the tonsilectomy and recovery. I decided to spend the time reading organizing books. As a Virgo, few things are more relaxing to me than researching new ways to file. Sad but true. I used to give guests a tour of my filing cabinet when I first got a label maker. Sad, but true.

So... it was with a great deal of joy that I undertook my little reading project. Two of the books started out as library loaners and then, partway through, I realized that I didn't want to give them back. I had to own them. So, I placed orders and now they live with me. Here they are and why I love them:

  • David Allen: Getting Things Done. This classic productivity manual is a classic for good reason. It's method works, and as I said to Charles, our general manager, the other day, "This book is saving my life." His ideas are simple and clear: don't keep everything you need to do stored up in your head. You will forget things and the effort to try and remember will make you less effective. Dump it all out and keep it on lists outside your head. His system anticipates every kind of meltdown and does its darndest to prevent it. Check it out!! He also has a new book out, which I snatched up as well, Making it all Work. This new book expands the system out to organize your whole life. Bliss!
  • Regina Leeds: One Year to an Organized Life. This book is a gift for those who feel easily overwhelmed. It breaks your home down into discrete areas by month, and then gives a list of tasks per week. By the end of the year, your will be living in paradise. Provided you do what she tells you...brilliant. There is one for work as well.... I can barely restrain myself from diving into that one next. LA readers: pick this up to support a local author!
The other fantastic discovery was Julie Morgenstern. Her book, Organizing from the Inside Out, is wonderful for anyone who has organization wounding. If you feel like you are a lifer slob and that there is nothing that can be done about it, this book is for you. Her gentle approach and comforting suggestions and tips help you see what will help you use your own tendencies to make a system that keeps everything together.

Viva organization!

image: evelynshire

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hollywood Glamour

So some of spent last night watching either Oscars Red Carpet parade of stars. Seeing the relative consertative dressing and many odes to The First Lady (how many one shoulder dresses or white gowns were there last night?)

I was reminded of a book lingering around the Book Soup shelves, cataloged in both the Film and Fashion sections. Adrian: Sliver Screen to Custom Label by
Christian Esquevin chronicles what many believe was the Golden Age of film fashion, from the 1930s through the post WWII 1940s. I have to admit it was movies made in those times and the amazing women wearing the clothes that made we want to become a fashion designer.

One film that stands out is The Women (1939). I can only the imagine the wardrobe closet for this huge cast of ladies, I would love a chance to walk through it. But barring that trip, this book with do just fine.

Oh and this funny video from youtube:


Saturday, February 21, 2009

it's a Moleskine world

I just want to let you know that we got a huge shipment of Moleskine journals that just came in. All sizes, all colors, some are lined, some are squares, and some are just blank. Yet for the Moleskine fetish person (and I am one) one can just feel the intensity by just standing by the Moleskine display rack. To celebrate the genius that is Moleskine, here are some artwork that has been done on a Moleskine notebook. I got these images from http://www.skineart.com/

Do enjoy and be inspired!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Capt. Hook

Capt. Hook - The Adventures of a Notorious Youth
by J.V. Hart and illustrated by Brett Helquist

This book covered capt hook's early years...as a rather spooky youth. He raised attack spiders, made a guillotine for science class, stood tall pale and thin with long black locks...what's not to love?!:)

This is the author's first novel but he has written many screenplays including Bram Stoker's Dracula and Hook. This would have made a great movie...I doubt it would happen though as there are some slightly sinister death scenes near the end that may make Disney squirm.

Oh and the illustrator is the same from Series of Unfortunate Events...another great dark series for kiddies!

- The Dark Accountant

Proust Madness!

It seems to be Proust madness in the publishing world. Starting back with de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life, the trend of dropping Proust's name into book titles has taken off like wildfire. He is now a Neuroscientist, hangs out with squids, and requires mutiple guides to accompany his work, including a special questionnaire.

So what about his work? A number of us have taken the dive this winter and spent the rainy days these past weeks in LA going straight to the source by reading Swann's Way, volume one of the epic In Search of Lost Time. And you know what- we love it!

Even though staffer Paige read the entire series in both English and French for her thesis, those of us less specialized in French Lit are having a good time with it, too.

It's pretty beautiful stuff. Try the Lydia Davis translation- it's dreamy. We promise greatness no matter where you live right now, because this weather isn't going to let you have picnics for quite a while. Enjoy your indoor days- make tea! Sip it and munch on madeleines with the source of that craze.

We promise you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Do this now.

I command you to send either five postcards or two cards a week. Maybe purchase them at Book Soup? I suggest "GILAH." I opened the shipment this morning. I got a little weak in the knees. It must be love.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The First Straw

Let me give you one compelling and totally obvious reason to read poetry: it is (can be) really short. You can't read a book every day, maybe not even scrape together the time to read a single chapter of one, but even YOU can read a poem. For those of you unconvinced by that logic, here's another sound argument: poetry readers are scientifically proven to get at least twice the smug, pseudo-intellectual self-satisfaction of the average reader. Yes; this is a good thing.

In all seriousness, I think its a shame I only see people in the poetry section when they get lost on their way to Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Don't let the image of smoky coffee shops and an open-mic night featuring some pretentious ass with bad facial hair cloud your vision. Also, try not to think about being forced to memorize Robert Frost or a teacher Tourette's-ically shouting lines from Shakespeare sonnets in a futile attempt to explain iambic pentameter. It's time for a clean slate.

While I've always liked poetry, it started off as a joyless, self-pitying hobby. That all changed a few years ago when a friend turned me on to his favorite poet, Jeffrey McDaniel. While good ol' Jeff belongs to that whole slam poetry scene, which I simply can't get into, I picked up a copy of The Splinter Factory, and scene be damned, I liked what I read. "The First Straw," the poem which has served as namesake to this blog entry, has been circulating through my consciousness for years. It's been there each time I've been in love, from when "I miss you so much I'd jump off the roof of your office building to catch a glimpse of you on the way down" to "when the heart is a busted cup filling with spit and paste." Hell, it's even there when I watch the news "and it's the Wild West all over again." But I don't want to give the impression that Jeff McDaniel's oeuvre veers into the overly dramatic. He's funny, political (without having an agenda), and anything else I could say to more aptly describe him would be to write meaningless, lazy, and most likely semi non-sensical catchphrases (McDaniel's verse fiercely subverts the cliches of traditional prose!). So please, if you're going to read just one poem today, make it "The First Straw" (google it, I guarantee you'll find it on several random personal blogs). If you're going to read two, maybe come into Book Soup and order up the whole damn book. Until then, I'll keep trying to convince you that poetry is indeed your friend.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton"


Dandy culture lives in the paintings and drawings by current art darling (and she is a darling in the great sense) Elizabeth Peyton. Now having her first major retrospective in New York City, Phaidon Press recently published this catalogue to go with the exhibtion.

First of all this book is beautifully designed and it fits in perfectly with Peyton's aesthetic. Most of the portraits have a strong gesture towards the British boy or man. Well, more like a boy. An innocence that may or may not exist in the actual model, but nevertheless Peyton sees these figures as in a dream figure. In other words it is not really about the subject, but more about the painter. And that is what makes her art so appealing.

Dandies are only interested in other dandy's in a superficial level, and it is mostly about the main subject matter. In this case that means Elizabeth Peyton.

Gearing up to get crafty: check out Handmade Nation!

Need some inspiration to get crafty? This week there are two treats from the same team: Handmade Nation the book (available here at Book Soup) and, coming soon to a town near you: Handmade Nation the documentary!

Often the best way to jump ahead in crafting projects is to read up on what everyone else is up to. This book has been a huge source of inspiration for me... I think a good craft book should function very much like a cookbook: just as fun to look at and browse as it is to follow along with and learn from.

If you have ever been called "grandma" for being a young hip twenty- or thirtysomething who knits or does other crafts, this book will help you find some solidarity in your extended crafting community. I loved it enough to buy it twice. The first time I was dumb enough to leave the book sitting next to a jack-o-lantern that rotted and leaked all over my beautiful volume of craft deliciousness. How could I not want to read about Jenny Hart and Sublime Stitching's birth or Tracy Bull of Happy Owl Glassworks? I defy anyone to resist.

But I am holding a brand new copy in my hands and I am going to own it again today. So. Read it, love it, watch the film when it comes your way, and get out your crafty materials and make something beautiful this week. What else are you up to during all this rain?

Tereneh's Fashion Pick: Rare Bird of Fashion

Iris Apfel is a one in a million kind of dame. A real dame, in all the good sense of that word.

She shows us the importance of a self-defined style that exhibits the uniqueness within us all, through the art of clothing and dressing.

All too often fashion is seen as an frivolous, unnecessary waste of time. Its coverage in the media is limited to the Lifestyle section or during Fashion Week you can hear the TV commentators cry: "Who is going to wear THAT?!"

Yet fashion and adornment is and always will be a socio-cultural art performance we play everyday. What we wear and how we wear it shows how we conform to and rail against the society we live in. Fashion is an outward manifestations of how we see ourselves, how we desire others to see us and what we aspire to be.

Iris Apfel's Rare Bird of Fashion is a companion book to a traveling exhibit of her clothing collection. Her ability to embrace and showcase global and traditional clothing from around the world with the Haute Couture of Paris and American sportwear is masterful.

Before you read this book do this test: Put together an inspiring outrageously inappropriate outfit and say to yourself as gaze into the mirror: "Can I wear this?!" Now read this book and try the test again... Yes! I look forward to seeing your new ensemble at your next trip to Book Soup.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sue's new 2009 pick

I have found my favourite book of 2009 so far, and will be very surprised if I find one to beat it this year. It is called Little Bee by Chris Cleave. For those who remember my 07 pick, April in Paris, and 08 Resistance, this is right up there with them.
I wish I could go into great detail about the book but I can't and you will find out why when you read it. It is such a powerful book and has left me thinking about it for months after I read it.
I urge you to read it for yourself and experience a truly fantastic read. One of the best you will ever have.
Let me know what you think.