I started this list during the summer, but now that I’m home, with our wonderful Society of the Four Arts Library, I do, of course, continue to read, read, read. I can’t go to sleep at night until I unwind, and, for me, reading is the best way to do it. So here are some of the books I’ve loved lately.
EVELYN WAUGH DECLINE AND FALL
Just a wonderful book—a satire of England at the time, it never loses its relevance, and is especially moving today.. Because this is a book long published, you will probably need to buy it on Amazon.com, although there have been several trade reprints. And don’t forget your wonderful libraries, both public and private, whose specialties de maison are great literature like this. This was just really fun—although sad.
JOSEPH ALSOP I’VE SEEN THE BEST OF IT
A memoir and a very interesting one. Although the first section, when he describes his youth and his school days at Groton, almost is like The Preppy Handbook for boys—you will definitely get advice on how to dress—then, but for preps today, still pertinent—it improves radically and becomes wonderful reading when he goes into his “real” life in Washington and the War, etc. A must read.
TOM WOLFE HOOKING UP
Not the new Tom Wolfe, which has very, very mixed reviews, but, although not terribly old, a return to his New Journalism. Nasty, often cruel, and very funny—although sadly so--a must read for its satiric view of what we as Americans have become—although, thank God, not everybody.
COLIN DEXTER—INSPECTOR MORSE SERIES
Just a wonderful series. I have to admit that I saw the old PBS series, before I read the first of Colin Dexter’s books, so I always see Inspector Morse in his John Thaw persona, but that’s okay, because he was so wonderful. I love Morse, and his wonderful sidekick—Lewis; they are such superb characters with deep flaws and wonderful highs. To have the whole series before you is like having unending Christmas presents to open.
PETER HOEG SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW
I never read this book when it came out, but my daughter and colleague, India Foster,
and I had a stuck-in-the-airport-for-six-hours at La Guardia, retuning home after working for a week, and I had already finished the book I had, and we had, together, finished the Friday NYT crossword (Yay Us!) and there was nothing in the little book stall except the latest blood-soaked thrillers by the Patterson Consortium or similar, and then I found this book on the bottom shelf, and bought it in desperation. What a thrill--and what a slap in the face to my hubris, thinking I-Know-Everything. This is a superb book, unbelievably well-written and what a story-teller Hoeg is! Obviously you can buy it right now, since I did, but it’s also in all your libraries. In our library, it’s in the international literature section, as Peter Hoeg is Danish.
I read (reread actually) all of the Dominick Dunne books this summer. They’re junk, but they’re fun junk. Having done this, I have to say that the non-fiction are a little bit better, except for the fact that his daughter’s terribly tragic and unnecessary death at the hands of a woman abuser distinctly colours his view in every court case—which most of the essays are about—and you miss the fun of guessing who he is writing about (sometimes amalgams of characters) in the novels. Good summer reading –and for us here in Palm Beach where the beach is right out there, year-round beach reading. I have to say, though, that his strong bias against the accused was irritating, since you felt like you might not be getting “the real thing.”
JEFFREY SIMPSON ROSE CUMMING: DESIGN INSPIRATION
Well, this new book is just so glorious—and so information- and tantalizing tidbit-packed, that I decided to carry it in my store. Filled with wonderful photographs—both of Ms. Cumming’s design work and her life—it’s not only a fun read, but a good addition to your design library. This is not only a must-read, but a must have. We will have this and the Thomas Messel book on his uncle, Oliver Messel, and of course, the American version of Farrow and Ball, the Art of Color by Brian Coleman and Edward Addeo, since we have seven projects shown in it.
Happy Reading everyone. And remember, books make just the best Christmas presents.