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    What I've Read: Side-Table Edition

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    Once upon a time Nate Berkus said something that really resonated~mostly because it made perfect sense. It went a little something like this: People love to look around other people's homes. They'll look at everything-even your books. So when you decorate with books, use ones that you love and have read. That way if someone asks you about them, you have something to say.

    It makes sense, right? In general, you should have a connection to what you put out for the world to see. You should know something about it. When it comes to books, I understand that sometimes they're bought for aesthetic reasons. These days the covers can be ridiculously gorgeous. But the majority of the time when you make the conscious decision to purchase them it's for the content. You have a vested interest in what's between the pages.

    Whether they're books you read for pleasure and put away, or the ones you also read for pleasure then display, what you read says something about you. Books quietly tell your visitors about your interests, your dreams, your hobbies, your travels, your life.

    So what do you do with your favorites? Around our homes we've typically arranged them on coffee tables, book shelves, and bedside tables~anywhere within quick reach should we sit down to relax.

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    Because I'm a little quirky I have a method for my side table books: art, local, heritage, and Kennedy. Quirky. I find that wherever we're living tends to influence the books I buy/read/decorate with, and living in California hasn't changed this a bit!

    Reading forward isn't necessary, but if you're curious, go ahead.

    1.) Georgia O'Keefe's One Hundred Flowers was a purchase I made years ago when we lived in Memphis, but it has remained a favorite. It's a treat to turn page after page and watch the colors blooming in bold shades (Red Canna still reamins a favorite!). Considering Ms. O'Keefe was painting during a time when men dominated the art world and somber tones were preferred, it's little wonder her work caught many an eye. There's something romantic and sometimes a little risque in her paintings, but that's part of the appeal. Another part? Rumored to have a real prickly personality, I find it funny that someone like that could paint such fluid and graceful images. It doesn't seem to fit, but it does add to the O'Keefe mystique.

    2.) Ansel Adams is a photographer from San Francisco most famous for his black & white landscapes. It felt like a confirmation of our move to California when I found Kate Jenning's compilation of his work, Ansel Adams, at a bookstore in New Orleans. It's not a secret that I love photography, and though it's a stretch to say I'm even an amateur, along with most photography buffs I can appreciate the beauty of Adams' pictures. But what may not be known by many was that Adams was also a staunch environmentalist. He used his abilities as a photographer to expand the National Parks, and through this exposure make them more accessible to tourists. His more famous pictures were taken in Yosemite National Park, but surprisingly aren't featured in this book. Glacier National Park and Grand Canyon National are featured quite a bit, but it's the unexpected appearance of various pueblos that show Adam's wasn't a one trick pony. He knew how to capture creations by both nature and man.

    3.) Arthur Hardy is to New Orleans what William Faulkner is to Oxford. A local personailty with the ability to spin a colorful yarn about the city he loves most, Arthur Hardy is the authority on Mardi Gras. He's been selling his Mardi Gras magazines since 1977 and even helped to start the Mardi Gras Museum in Jefferson Parish. The man is an institution. Y'all know I'm a New Orleans girl, born and raised, and shortly before Husband's big move to Tokyo without us, I ran into our local legend at Barnes & Nobles. We chatted for a while, and after picking up his book Mardi Gras in New Orleans, an Illustrated History he offered to sign it. He was kind enough to write a little note wishing our family luck, and told me to make sure I had someone save us a copy of his magazine while we were abroad. Sweet guy. I know most people think Mardi Gras is just a huge party~and, well, yes, it is for the most part~but the history behind it adds so much color and richness (because there wasn't enough already). If you understand just a fraction of how our parades started, how our city became so well known for our frivolity before Lent, you'd have a greater appreciation everytime January rolled around.

    4.) Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years. I love her. I can't say much more than that~my bookshelves can do that for me. The number of Kennedy tomes gracing our home is getting into the realm of the ridiculous, but this is one of my favorites. Confession: I haven't read a word beyond the captions under the pictures. Why? Because once I begin to look through the multitude of glamorous photos the words cease to exist. One day I'll read the commentaries. They can only serve to make the portrait of this great lady all the more fabulous. But really, how much more fabulous can Jackie get?

    Do you have any favorite books that you leave on display? I'm always on the look for something new to read and would love to hear from you.

    Happy Friday all!

    One Response to “
    What I've Read: Side-Table Edition

    Ruth said...

    Those are wonderful choices. I enjoy leafing through the ones you have had for years.