Tuesday, October 07, 2008
What Have I Been Reading?
Well, I have been reading a number of good books, I guess as usual. Really I won't waste my time on something that doesn't grab me in the first two chapters.
One of the books I have been reading is House Thinking: A Room-By-Room Look at How We Live by Winifred Gallagher. I picked this book up because in many ways I don't like my house. I know that I will be living in this house the rest of my life and I try to make the space as comfortable as I can. I don't feel that I have much sense of style in decorating. I do have some good pictures on the walls and by "good" I mean pictures that please me. But my house is so small and the ways of arranging things so limited that I feel kind of entangled in the layout and not as smooth as I would like. This book made me look at my spaces in a different way. This is what Booklist had to say:
Gallagher writes fresh and nuanced interpretations of the subtler aspects of life. In her latest work of creative synthesis and interpretation, she conducts a tour like no other of the American house, excavating its fascinating history and covert psychological influences. Humans are happiest in dwellings that allow us to both nest and perch, Gallagher explains, citing Frank Lloyd Wright. To assess whether a house succeeds in providing these qualities, she performs what she calls house thinking, analyzing the ambiance of each room in houses old and new, urban and suburban. To set the gold standard, she describes various architectural marvels, including Edith Wharton's Mount (Gallagher has a particular interest in writer's abodes), whereas on the practical side, she recounts her own home-improvement efforts. As she assesses every aspect of every room, she offers compelling observations regarding women's lives past and present, changing family configurations, our mania for possessions, and the dominating role televisions and computers now play on the domestic scene. As Gallagher casts our houses and private lives in a revealing new light, she reinforces our perception of home as a place that merits our keenest attention. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. I think what this book is helping me to do is to look at my space as more comfortable and functional than I thought it was and also to help me arrange things better so that I feel at home in a space that will be mine for a VERY long time!
Another book I have been reading, especially as I watched the stock market crash yesterday is The Shape of Living: Spiritual Direction for Everyday Life by David F. Ford. The book talks about having faith in a hostile world. The author talks about how overwhelmed we are by life experiences and the fear of the future or dread of the past. This is a very reflective and calm book about really tough things we all face. The Shape of Living is like a friend's invitation to a dinner at which you encounter some unexpected guests and hope for some life-shaping consequence. By all means, accept.
Finally, I read a delightful book that you may have heard of, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. This book is published by Persephone Books and if you are not familiar with the wonderful books this press is reissuing I highly recommend that you find them and read them!
This book was made into a movie staring Francis McDormand and Amy Adams. I wanted to see the movie but thought I should read the book first. I am so pleased that I did as it is like an adult fairy tale. So good natured and charming that I can't suggest too highly that you read this book!
Miss Pettigrew is about a governess sent by an employment agency to the wrong address, where she encounters a glamorous night-club singer, Miss LaFosse. 'The sheer fun, the light-heartedness' in this wonderful 1938 book 'feels closer to a Fred Astaire film than anything else' comments the Preface-writer Henrietta Twycross-Martin, who found Miss Pettigrew for Persephone Books. Looking for a book to take you away from all this? Read Miss Pettigrew and enjoy the trip. Talk to you later, Lynda