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Bookshelf bank holiday

May 2, 2011

Inspired by Katypeg’s book post, I thought I’d share with the Pegworld my taste in reading. I used to read like mad, consuming novels like they were going out of fashion, constantly I’d have my head in 2 or 3 books at a time. Sadly, my fever for reading was really quashed during my 3 years at University as everything I read was for whatever essays I was working on. I still had a mad rate of consumption but it was all factual, at times arduous and all under pressure. As a result I stopped taking interest in fiction and simply couldn’t get myself to stick it out through a books often difficult first chapters. Like all book lovers, I adore the way you can thirst for more and more of a book, and the total escapism of being in a world that’s not your own and knowing the characters inside out in a way that’s completely individual.

So this is my bookshelf in my bedroom at home:

NB – I’ve never pretended to be any good at photography and I couldn’t get very good focus on this image. Somebody teach me?!

I’ll take your through the titles here, I thoroughly recommend ALL of them!

  • So, starting from the right, Tracey Emin’s ‘Strangeland’ is the intimate memoirs of the notorious British artist, reading this really gets you inside the mind of Emin (whether her memories are fabricated or not) it makes you look at her work with new eyes. Slightly disturbing and raw in parts.
  • On top of that is Axel Madsen’s book about Coco Chanel. One of many biographies its pretty well written and the story is unbiased, good pictures too. A Chanel obsessed lady gave it to me.
  • Above that is ‘The Age of Elegance’, a pocket sized book of John Singer Sargeant’s paintings. My mum bought it as a gift when she visited me in Sheffield once and we’d been to The Graves art gallery.
  • Passion Pit ‘Manners’ and Rihanna ‘Loud’ CDs
  • ‘French Women for all Seasons’ by Mirielle Guilliard, this is a diet book in disguise which makes reading it bearable. As a woman with a supermodel’s body non-proportionally squashed down this is of immediate relevance to me and I do sporadically do try to push my more carnal feeling about food to one side in favour of getting the body I deserve. Have I tried the Leek soup weekend? That’s a NO.
  • ‘D.V’ by Diana Vreeland. An autobiography by an inspirational woman who is my ultimate icon. I adore this dame with all her eccentricities. Like Emin and Chanel, critics claim that much of her life as told by DV isn’t true. But I like that. If you don’t know who she is get Googling or start a conversation with me, just make sure you have 3 hours to spare.
  • The Goddess Guide‘, Gisele Scanlon. A birthday present from Rosepeg years ago. Chock-full of tip-offs, tricks and just downright interesting girly things to know. I took it on trips to New York and Dublin as its full of pointers to hidden gems. i.e: best fish and chips in Dublin:

  • Robert Elms, ‘The Way we Wore‘. I freaking love this book. I read the whole thing on the way to Glasgow. I’ve always loved women’s fashion and have taken a practical and theoretical interest in it but men’s fashion has always been more of an enigma. However when writing my dissertation I thought it was time to get a handle on it. This story of  ‘a man’s life in threads’ really gave me the inside scoop on what makes mens fashion tick and also it’s a fascinating tale of the man behind ‘The Face’ as well as what was going on with fashion and music from 60’s to early 90’s. Oh yeah and its signed copy  😀
  • Gone with the Windsors‘ Laurie Graham. Also the writer of another favourite novel, ‘The Unfortunates’ starring the most infectious yet repulsive main character. This is a fictional account based on truth of the courtship and marriage of Wallis Simpson to Edward VIII. Newly converted Royalists: READ.
  • ‘Establishing Dress History’, Lou Taylor. Important book for my dissertation and comprehensive historical account of, well, dress history!
  • ‘A Photographic History’, Paul Yapp. From the Victorians to modern day (modern day being early 2002). Beautiful, insightful snaps.
  • ‘Quant by Quant’. Mary Quant. Covered in an earlier post.
  • The Language of Clothes‘, Alison Lure. A seminal text on dress history and meaning. I LOVE THIS. Can’t stress its importance, there are very few texts (if any!) like this.
  • ‘Victorian Masters & their Art’, Russell Ash. Honestly, I love looking at pictures and didn’t read a word of this for years but when I do manage to tear my eyes away from the Rosettis and Alma Tademas his insights and choice of prose and poems to accompany the images are just beautiful.
  • American Vogue from December, 1987. An amazing choice of birthday present from my good friend Kate last year as I was born 9/12/1987! She found it on Ebay, it’s got Naomi Campbell on the front. Have you ever heard of such a  good birthday gift idea?! This is so treasured.
  • Gustav Vigeland. This title is in Norwegian, I don’t really know what it means. It’s a lovely big book full of fantastic photographs from the Vigeland park in Oslo, Norway which I visited years ago. He’s my favourite sculptor and his sculpture park is somewhere I long to go back to. We happened on it by accident and it was magical, we stayed until it was too dark to see anything. Again, Google him!
  • Fashion Now 2‘ Taschen. Big, informative, exhaustive. Love.
  • Beaton in the Sixties‘, Hugo Richard. This is the only book I’ve not read completely, I think I’m waiting for the right moment. All I know is I love Cecil Beaton.
  • ‘Ways of Seeing’ John Berger. Another seminal text on visual culture. A very dated and funny Doctor Who/The Prisoner style BBC series accompanied this book but once you’ve got past the hilarity of that, and got your head around what Berger’s saying, you can ‘see’ how important it is, and ground-breaking.
  • ‘Painting and Experience in the 15th Century’, Michael Baxandall. Does what it says on the tin, takes you back to durrr the 15th century which gives a clear understanding of how far we’ve come visually as humans and when thinking in terms of modern art, you can’t break the rules until you’ve read the rule book!
  • Jeremy Paxman, ‘The English’. Intelligent and succinct, summing up the British as a society historically, which of course reflects on how we are today!
  • A well loved Jane Austen, ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Need I say more?!
  • The Art Book‘ On the shelves of art lovers world wide. Bought on a trip to London with college probably.
  • Hiding underneath is ‘The Diaries of Andy Warhol’. I lied, I also haven’t read this one yet, I’ve had a stab at it but its bloody massive! Given to me by Raypeg last birthday who admitted that she bought it online and hadn’t known how big it was! I WILL overcome the intimidation!
  • ‘Nancy Mitford’, biography by Selina Hastings. I gobbled this book up having bought it in Chatsworth gift shop along with a necklace that disintegrated three weeks later. I adore Chatsworth as a destination, as a landscape, history, EVERYTHING. The Mitford sisters were socialites during the 40s-50s and very beautiful all of them. One of them (Debo) married Lord Cavendish and lives at Chatsworth still.
  • ‘Fashion Babylon’ by Imogen Edward Jones (and anonymous..) Like Quant by Quant, this gives you an insight into the business side of the fashion world, the cheats, the stars, the failures, the money, the debt and the grimy underside of the glamorous tip of the iceberg. Fascinating, seemingly realistic and easy to read. Escape for a weekend.

So that’s that! If anyone goes on to read any of these titles, I’d love to know your opinions, or if you’ve already tried some! I’ll leave you with two unprofessionally taken pictures of some of our old Routledge published books (my Mum’s a bit of a book hoarder) I love the old fashion covers for their tattiness and colour.

For any ADR watchers our there:

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