Monday, 25 April 2016

This Year's Stack

Inspired several years ago by LR at Magnificent or Egregious, I started posting about the books I got for Christmas. I'd meant to do so back in January and so set them up and snapped a photo, then another that was a bit straighter. The only two photos I took in January 2016. Amazing.

So here they are:

The Sustainable Fashion Handbook, Sandy Black. Haven't read it yet. I'm hoping it will inspire me as much as a book I saw everywhere a few years ago, but can't find now. It was about how clothing designers were finding ways to reuse textiles or design for zero waste. 

An Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of County Donegal, Jim MacLaughlin and Sean Beattie. A wonderful book that covers so much I feel I've already been to Donegal. I admit to skipping the chapters about glaciers and geology; I simply don't have the vocabulary to understand it. But I read every other word from front to back, making frequent reference to the map showing towns. If I manage to keep at this blogging lark I'll no doubt have more to say about this!

Women in my Rose Garden, Ann Chapman. Started on this but wasn't grabbed. Will have another go. I think I thought I would learn something practical about roses, but my initial impression is that it is a collection of stories about the women for whom roses were named. 

Quilted Bags and Totes, Denise Clayson. A gift from Vivien! I've not tried quilting yet, but I think it would be an interesting addition to the scrappy bags I love to make.

Sew Useful, Debby Shore. This got passed around the craft group one evening and I snapped a photo so I could put it on my wishlist. Several projects in there I want to try.

Snobbery, Joseph Epstein. Dipped into this but haven't found it fascinating. As far as I read I didn't learn anything new about the class system in America. Will go at it again, but I'm thinking it holds not even a matchstick compared with Paul Fussell's book.

The Hands-On Home, Erica Strauss. I've long enjoyed Erica's blog, Northwest Edible Life. I latched onto this thinking that gardening in Seattle might be similar to here in NorthEast England. That may or may not be true. Having read through this book several times, what I've worked out that is NOT similar is my supply of energy. I was never the homesteader type to begin with, but there are still any number of great ideas in here - and it's not just a repeat of her blog as far as I can tell, which is impressive.

Gardening for a Lifetime, Sydney Eddison. I was hoping there would be some magic solution to my laziness / ignorance / dislike of cold / increasing age. This is more a book about her specific garden and about all the paid and volunteer helpers she had over the years. I gleaned two ideas from this. One is to plant bushes, not flowers. The other was a specific recommendation for plants that have great colours year round. I will be looking out for that. And I've got the name and number of a friend's gardener.

Fabric Flowers, Kate Haxell. This is another book that went around the craft group. Not sure I'll manage to make any flowers, but perhaps this is an idea for our WI craft group. Will have to have a go.

Flapper, Joshua Zeitz. A fabulous book about not just 'flappers' but women of the early 19th century, a snapshot of social history. I felt as though I was reading about my maternal Grandmother, who was an enigma to anyone who knew her. Bill enjoyed reading this book as well.

Gregor the Overlander series, Suzanne Collins. Since I totally love the Hunger Games series I decided to try these other books. I never thought I would enjoy a book whose characters were rats, cockroaches and other species I generally avoid, but I did. And so did Bill. 

The Snowball - Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder. A very large book, but incredibly readable. I enjoyed the book because it was about mid-America during my lifetime and it opened my eyes to any number of financial goings on that never blipped my radar at the time. The short version is that Buffett owes his success to having a hateful mother and being extremely boring.

The Secret Rooms, Catherine Bailey. About the Dukes of Rutland, in particular the 9th one who lived around the time of WWI. I'd not ever caught up with the Rutlands (or realised that Belvoir Castle is pronounced Beaver). I had seen the present Duchess of Rutland on the telly with Alan Titchmarsh (a gardner whose made it big) about the landscape of Belvoir. I liked it a lot for the history and the time period, for its despicable / pathetic / mysterious characters, and the insight into how the writer worked on this book. Bill enjoyed it as well, though he got quite exasperated with some of the characters. Sometimes having a hateful mother can be one's downfall as well as one's saviour.

The Pauper's Homemaking Book, Jocasta Innes. Haven't read this yet, but I shall shortly. Simon gave me this for Christmas but reminded me it was on my Amazon wishlist so I shouldn't be insulted. I just laughed at him. I doubt Bill's kids will ever understand the concept of tightwaddery.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo. I've been curious about this for a while, having read snippets from other blogs, etc. I felt as though I were visiting another culture, her outlook is so different to mine. There are some good ideas in here about folding things in drawers...things that don't wrinkle that is. I don't really wish to anthropomorphize my possessions and I'm not sure I understand her definition of 'joy'. I agree that a lot of paper work bring the opposite of anyone's idea of joy, but throwing it all away is a catastrophically bad idea and I hope no one is foolish enough to follow that advice. I plan to make a few notes and then pass the book along so it can bring 'joy' to someone else.

Aprons and Silver Spoons, Mollie Moran. I read this even before 2015 was over and really enjoyed it. Whether I needed to own it is perhaps another question. Our libraries have downsized in recent years, selling off much of the stock that would have interested me. I've bought books for £1 that I don't really have space for because I didn't want to see them disappear before I'd had a chance to read them. I will pick this one up again and if I enjoy it as much the second time, it stays. Otherwise I need the space. I don't remember many of the details, but remember I pictured Rose Leslie, the actress who played Gwen the housemaid-who-became-a-secretary in Downton Abbey.


Indigo Dragonfly said...

Your reading list looks interesting! My mother is a quilter/seamstress so that one in particular appeals.

Mine now centers around tourist & historical guides of London, research on SOE/OSS/CIA beginnings & training facilities, and Bletchley Park history. I have always been fascinated by the lives of spies and code-breakers.

Jg. for FatScribe said...

Okay ... you had me at hello, er, I mean HELLO books! Good gawd lawdiedawdie. Love to see stacks and stacks of books. Just absolutely love a stack of books. Shelley, can't remember if it was you or Barbara (from Moveable Feasts blog) that I shared the news of Michael Crichton had calculated the weight of his house and discovered that whenever he moved a signficant, substantial, and sizeable portion and percentage of each "move" from house to house (he collected homes like he collected amazing art, wives, and Armani suits -- I exaggerate only slightly). Anyhoo, he was a man/author polymath (he was an MD for pete's sake) that was wont to find stacks of books in each and every room in the house. Our type of fellow to be sure, Shelley.

Anyway, I'll read over your list above/supra to see what/which books I should also read. And, btdubs, adore your dad's (dear ole dad) suit and hat. Nice style, that man (Oklahoma? Where you're from, if I remember correctly). Hope Spring is finding you well across the pond!

Shelley said...

Jg. Hi! Long time no... whatever. I do love books for sure. The last few years I've kept track of my reading (on the right side bar below the foolishly long index). It's almost like keeping a diary for me. I can see when I'm really stressed because I go back and read my children's fiction - Harry Potter and the like. When I'm not stressed I can explore more non-fiction or new authors. I try to only keep books I think are worth re-reading. My local community centre has an annual sale of donated books and I tend to re-cycle my purchases there (£1 hardback; 50p paper) back to them. The other goal is to actually read all the books that pass through my hands! Crazy to pay (any) money for something then not use it...Anyhow. Great to hear from you!

Shelley said...

Indigo - So envious that you still have your mom and that she sews. Two wonderful things wrapped up in one! I think it's great you have a specific interest to explore in London. Bill and I are keen on the period between WWI and WWII and I suppose the late Victorian/Early Edwardian period as it relates to Art Nouveau. Those two ideas have shaped many of our holidays and informed our itinerary in several cities. Look forwarding to hearing about your London trip!