I Got Some Amazing Books for Christmas

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

My in-laws used to get nervous that they gave me too many books as gifts, that I’d get tired of them. They have learned by now that nothing makes me happier, and they’ve joined my own family in helping me build my library every year. And this year, the selection of books I was given was pretty astoundingly good. Some of these were on my own wishlist, some of them were given with great thought and care, and one of them was a gift to myself.

Quilting Modern:Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts was on my wishlist that I was really excited for, andInstinctive Quilt Art: Fusing Techniques and Design (right) was from my in-laws. And it has the most amazing, vivid art quilts in it. Both books really focus on free form, go-with-what-you-feel quilting, so maybe this is the universe telling me to just start cutting and sewing this year.

Felt Mistress: Creature Couture is an insanely strange and sublimely cool find from my brother-in-law Thomas. The Felt Mistress is heretofore unfamiliar to me, but apparently she is a force in British fashion, toy design, puppetry, and window displays. This giant art book details piles of her original stuff and her work with Jonathan Edwards creating some of the most awesome felt creatures I’ve ever seen. This is one of those fabulous, only-available-in-Britain treasures that I could spend hours upon hours poring over.

And to add to my ever-growing arsenal of food tomes are The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, this great resource that explains how to make everything from pop tarts to ketchup at home in your own kitchen. The feeling is more retro Home Ec than depressing preservative-free food Nazi, and that is infinitely cooler and more accessible.

I also got On a Stick to add to my party food collection and Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit. This one was actually written by a girl who was in the graduate Library and Information Science program with me at Pratt. We didn’t know each other, but Laena McCarthy is one of those faces you remember from the halls and somehow end up Facebook friends with. So I knew she’d become kind of this legendary artisanal jam maker in Brooklyn, which is very cool in and of itself. But when I found out she was publishing a book about jam at the end of the summer when I discovered this art form I got REALLY excited. All of the food books were on my wishlist.

My Ideal Bookshelf is also one from my wishlist. Again, I’m a little obsessed and plan on spending hours poring over this one. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but any book that includes the favorite books of James Franco AND Nancy Pearl Librarian Extraordinaire in the same book is perfection. Plus, the bookshelves are illustrated. Very cool.

And then finally, Dancers Among Us. This was my present to myself, and I am so smitten with this book. And don’t you dare judge me for reading about it in O magazine’s December issue. Look at the cover, how could you not be in love with this? And look at this photo:

This is the ultimate, cure-a-bad-day book of photos. Pure joy, and I love every page. We have 3 students from my school all battling relapsed leukemia, and the one I’ve taught the most (her mom is a teacher in the building) just went back into the hospital in December. She’s in 3rd grade, so I sent her a copy of Hugo Cabret, the next 2 books in the Bone series after the last one she checked out of the library, and this book for her whole family. I may send this book to everyone I know from here on out that could use a smile.

So, all in all I’d say this was one of my best hauls of books ever. I’m kind of over the moon.


Books and Chocolate

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

I went out to Lambertville, NJ today for my sorority alumni’s Founders Day luncheon. I love this area, Adam and I spent our 1st wedding anniversary in New Hope and Lambertville (across a walkable bridge from each other).

The best thing about lunch at Lambertville Station was this chocolate truffle dessert.


Water for Elephants and A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Friday, January 21st, 2011

By complete coincidence, I finished the audio book of Sara Gruen’s astounding Water for Elephants the same day that my copy of Philip and Erin Stead’s A Sick Day for Amos McGee arrived in the mail. That book is hard to get your hands on these days, so it was the first chance I’d actually had to read this year’s Caldecott medalist. And something about experiencing these books on the same day made me feel so euphoric that I couldn’t escape how similar the experiences were.


The Strain and The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Holy apocalypse, these books scared the pants off of me. And not in a cover-my-eyes-and-scream-in-terror kind of way. They were perfect October reading, they definitely got me into the Halloween spirit. These books are so bleak, so dark and creepy, so hard to put down that I found myself coming up for air and breathing with relief that we weren’t really in the middle of a vampire zombie apocalypse.

Yes. A vampire zombie apocalypse. Because that’s basically what the 1st two books in this new trilogy are about. The Strain, to me, was pure, delicious creepiness (if you like that kind of thing). A plane arrives at JFK and stops suddenly on the runway. The CDC is called in to investigate and finds all but 4 of the people on board dead. With no obvious cause of death. As CDC epidemiologists Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez investigate, they discover a deadly and fast-acting new virus. And the 4 survivors are not as well as they seem. Then Abraham Setrakian, an old Holocaust survivor and NYC pawnbroker, sneaks into their lab and tells them to burn all of the bodies immediately, and this begins the (slow) realization by the scientists that vampires are real and a Master has arrived in New York. They join forces with Setrakian and an exterminator named Vasily Fet to fight the vampire virus.


Today, I Was Born Again…

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

…as a Marc Jacobs fan. Thanks to Kathy, who met me in the West Village today to visit BookMarc, Jacobs’s new stationery/bookstore across the street from Magnolia. We had a time and did a little economy boosting.

I’m actually really impressed with this super edited collection of on-trend stationery, perfectly edgy art books, and fashion tomes (I may need the Pucci and Hermes Scarf books for Christmas).

I. Mean. Marc Jacobs colored pencils, notebooks, and even branded Sharpies? I was in cool nerd heaven and bought a huge sketchbook, a new small notebook, and several keychain sharpies. And a Guy Bourdin book for Adam. Which turned out to be a complete find, it was their last one & is actually out of print (Amazon’s cheapest used copy is $45, I snagged this one new for $25). Adam did alright out of today’s adventures, we went to Myers of Keswick after this and stocked up on his favorites, too.

This is Kathy’s “I made out like a bandit” pose. Marc Jacobs does something to her.

And, of course, I needed a photo with my 1st ever Marc Jacobs bag. Okay, not the buttery leather variety in the women’s accessories store across the street (also went there), but it’s a start.

We walked around a little until we found this really cozy restaurant. Seriously delicious grilled cheese sandwiches with the works for a great price, I highly recommend.

Today was perfect. I hardly ever see Kathy these days, we really need to fix that.