Friday, April 4, 2014

Books I Bought This Week

It's FRIDAY. How in the world did that happen?

This week, I bought two books. Two whole books! Since I work in book publishing, you'd think that I'm a book-buying addict; that I visit bookshops in my spare time and attend all sorts of bookish events; that I read non-stop no matter what method of transport I'm on ... WRONG.

I'm an imposter, a fraud. All the books on my shelf were those that I had acquired for free during my Penguin Books days and, while you couldn't tear me away from books as a child, you'll be hard-pressed to find me reading one today. I joined one bookclub, which quickly dissolved, then joined another, which also eventually petered out ... you get the picture.

Don't get me wrong - obviously, I love books! It's just hard to find a) a good book and b) time to read it properly. My life is full of constant interruptions (and I don't even have children!), distractions, and noise. My idea of a treat is shutting myself in a bedroom with lots of natural light, snuggling down into the covers, and having a good 2-hour chunk of time to read a book ... after which I fall asleep for a long, luxurious nap. Maybe this weekend.


This week, a co-worker forwarded a link to the Telegraph's recent review of Rebecca Tuite's book, Seven Sisters Style and I bought it - right then and there.

As a Seven Sisters alum, how could I resist? ICYDK, the "Seven Sisters" refers to the seven, (majority) women-only liberal arts colleges that were founded to provide educational opportunities for women around the same time that the Ivy League colleges were founded. These are: Mount Holyoke (my alma mater!), Vassar (now co-ed), Wellesley, Smith (boo!!! No, just kidding, Smithies!), Radcliffe (now a part of Harvard and therefore co-ed), Bryn Mawr, and Barnard.

Back in Small Town, USA, where I'm from, the idea of attending a women's college seemed as alien as ... oh, I don't know ... moving to London, England, perhaps. This book is an in-depth look at how the "all-American preppy look" was developed and fostered at the Seven Sisters colleges. If anything, it provides a fascinating glimpse of the styles that evolved from these single-sex educational institutions, which then went on to influence Hollywood and inspire American designers such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

Of course, the Seven Sisters students were much more elegant than we were back then: yes, some of us wore popped collars on campus, with a single strand of pearls and that unmistakeable Tiffany's chain-link, heart-charm bracelet given to girls on their 16th birthday. Those who studied abroad in Europe came back as proud owners of large Longchamp Le Pliage totes, which they used to stuff papers and books in until the corners frayed. But others fell into the "sloppy dressing" category because ... who cared? Some of us also wore pajamas and sweats to lectures, lab, lunch, the library, exams, etc.

I fell in between these two camps. I was still developing my personal "style" while at Mount Holyoke, and was just as quick to pluck a scarf from the "free bin" in the laundry room of Buckland and fashion it around my head as a bandana, as I was to get my initials monogrammed on an L.L. Bean canvas tote bag and proudly carry it around campus (until I realized I looked like an idiot, which only took about two weeks).

Regardless of how I dressed, or how my classmates dressed, Seven Sisters Style is a wonderful read, and one that I know I'll continue to dip in and out of as my reunion years come and go.

The second book I purchased was not for myself, but for my Dad, who is a huge fan of Fabrice Moireau's beautiful watercolors, which appear in a series of "sketchbooks" published by Editions Didier Millet.

This one, Rooftops of Paris, was initially hard to find: I could only locate a copy for over £400 on Amazon! Luckily, I'd been in touch with the Sales Director of EDM before, so I emailed him and he kindly told me that it'd be in stock again soon for a much more reasonable price.

The rooftops of Paris are extraordinary. I think that Paris has the most romantic cityscape in the world and that its rooftops are the key to this.

Rooftops of Paris arrived today and, while extracting it from the packaging, I thought to myself, "Why don't I have this book?" So I'll be getting this for myself, as well as the rest in Fabrice Moireau's sketchbook series (he's done Venice and Paris, to name a few), because they are - simply put - beautiful books.

One thing I've realized is that I'm surrounded by beautiful books every day, and yet I never think to stop and enjoy them myself. If I worked in any other industry, I'd probably appreciate them even more. So I'm resolving to stop taking books for granted and perhaps even allocate a bit of my clothing budget to some gorgeous coffee table tomes.

I mean, I'll try. I said "perhaps", after all ...

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