Books on the Nightstand, Books on the Kindle, Part One

When someone asks me, “Kindle or real book?”  my answer is “Both.”  I will take any book I can get in any form.  I love being able to carry 50 or so books around with me, to ensure that I never run out of reading material.  I love being able to download all of an author’s books in order, without having to depend on the random holdings at the library.  But I also love to flip through big art books, or take an old paperback outside with me and not have to worry about dropping it.

Today I’ll talk about some of the real books I’m reading now – hopefully tomorrow I will get to the Kindle books.

The Silent Traveller in London by Chiang Yee (London, Country Life Ltd., 1939) – I just picked up this book from the nostalgia section at a local used book store.  Besides beautiful travel descriptions, there are gorgeous prints of the author’s paintings – English subjects in the Chinese style.

snow and rain

Snow on Hampstead Heath, Coalman in the Rain from The Silent Traveller in London.  I wish we would have some days like this so I could sit and read all day.

I also love this quote from the introduction:

As I am diffident of fixing my eyes on big things, I generally glance down on the small ones.  There are a great many tiny events which it has given me great joy to look at, to watch, and to think about.  As they are so tiny, other people may have neglected them.  This little book can perhaps be called a collection of odds and ends of observations, which may amuse a few people at bedtime or in idle moments after tea or dinner.

If you substitute the word “blog” for “book”, I would say this is a good description of what I want to do with my blog!

Old-Time Tools and Toys of Needlework (New York, Dover Publications, 1971 – a reprint of a 1928 book by Gertrude Whiting, called Tools and Toys of Stitchery)  The author has gathered photos, illustrations, poems, songs, and facts about all kinds of textile tools.  In the chapter on socks, she quotes from the 1583 Anatomie of Abuses:

…to such impudent insolency and shameful outrage it is now grown that everyone almost, though otherwise very poor, having scarcely forty shillings of wages by the year, will not stick to have two or three pair of these silk nether-stocks…though the price of them be a royal, or twenty shillings, or more…The time hath been when one might have clothed all his body well from top to toe for less than a pair of these nether-socks will cost.

Henry VIII had in his wardrobe  “One pair of short hose of black silk and gold woven together, one pair of hose of purple silk and Venice gold, woven like unto a caul, and lined with blue and silver sarsenet, edged with a passemain of purple silk and gold, wrought at Milan.”  (I would love to see something like that on today’s politicians.)

And as time went by, a writer complained about the “horrible disordinate scantiness ” of a whole leg of stocking, with too little doublet above.  I wish I could remember phrases like that to throw out in casual conversation.

And when I am too tired to read something even that light, I just look at the pictures in When Art Became Fashion: Kosode in Edo-Period Japan.  Kosode was the forerunner of the kimono, and the Edo period was from 1615 to 1868.  This book accompanied an exhibit that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art had in cooperation with two Japanese museums in 1992.  It’s over 300 pages long and almost every page has a full-color photograph.  I get endless inspiration from the combinations of colors and imagery that were used.  I would love to create some quilts based on these garments.  You can see some of the textiles from the collection here.

I scour used book stores for treasures like these, but if any of them have piqued your interest, you’re in luck – I just checked and they’re all still available!  Wishing us all lots of time to read to our hearts’ content…