18 Jan 2020

Current Reading List


I have to tell you, I have been slacking in the reading department. Life, as it happens, has been not very pretty lately. But we are not here to talk about that. Recently, I have been quite into memoirs and poetry books and I am slowly becoming obsessed (again) with art journaling and handwritten letters that I pick up every book I find that has "The Letters of..../The Journals of..." on the title. So here goes:



1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Penned in 1970 and spanning 20 years of epistolary correspondence between Helene and Frank Doel (and later on with his colleagues at Marks and Co. and then his wife), 84 Charing Cross Road is a book that will tug at your heartstrings. It never ceases to amaze me - the power of the handwritten letter. It can nurture friendships, incite love, cross borders both literally and figuratively and all one needs is simply just pen and paper. They started their correspondence just at the dawn of post-war Britain and everything was rationed but Helene did what she could to send bits and bobs from America to the UK - eggs and tinned meat, nylons and sugar. In this day and age, it is easy to forget what joy one, single tin of meat can bring. If you love books, letters, typewriters and antique London bookshops like I fervently do, then this is a must-read. It has also been made into a delightful film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, released in 1987, currently available for streaming on Netflix.

2. Vintage Ephemera, A Collection of Cavallini and Co. by Brian D. Coleman

More of a coffee table book, Vintage Ephemera features every type of paper craft you can imagine from the personal collection of the San Francisco based paper company Cavallini and Co. - from letters to postcards, maps to tickets,  bookmarks to stamps and every little thing in between, all dating back to the early 1900s. One can clearly see how these ephemera influence their style and products up until now. I am a big fan of Cavallini and Co. and this book will inspire just about anyone who either: keeps a journal, hoards every bit of paper one encounters, loves all things vintage, or all of the above (raises hand).

3. A Second Self - The Letters of Harriet Granville 1810 - 1845 edited by Virginia Surtees

I must admit, I know nothing about the history of British Royalty nor the intricate bloodlines that make up the Lords and Ladies, Dukes and Duchesses, Earls and Countesses but I came across a hardbound copy of this book in one of my secondhand book haunts and it had me at 'letters' and '1810-1845'. Not to discount the fact that I am utterly fascinated by the lives of those who lived in the 1800s but Lady Granville's letters, written mostly to her sister and various friends reads like lyrical prose.

" The garden is radiant with beauty, freshness and sweetness - flowers, singing birds, green grass and innumerable orange blossoms." - pg. 245

And also, London. ( I am beginning to sense a theme here.)

4. Slouching Towards Nirvana by Charles Bukowski

Think what you want about Charles Bukowski but he speaks the language of my dark, twisted heart and for that alone I will forever be a slave to his words. "why, oh why and oh, why not?". This particular book also led me to a new friend, who I met nursing a beer and reading this very book whilst sitting at a roadside bar in one of the many alleyways of Hanoi. How very Bukowski is that?

5. A Night without Armor by Jewel Kilcher

The year was 2001 and Jewel was the queen of every lovelorn girl wanting to break out of the mold. I collected every single cassette tape of every album she ever recorded and when I found out that she had a book, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, the only bookstore where I lived at the time only carried Sweet Valley University and Teen Beat and online shopping was something I'd never even heard of but a friend of mine got sent a copy from his family in the US and so kindly lent it to me. My then 1 year old son proceeded to use it as a colouring book. Thankfully my friend was totally cool about it. Fast forward 19 years later, I now have my own copy. If you like her lyrics then you would definitely love her book. By the way, I am still the same lovelorn girl, trying so hard to break out of the mold.

6. Ariel, The Restored Edition by Sylvia Plath

The unedited, original edition as Sylvia intended this to be. Dark, uninhibited, savage. What drives one to madness? What drives one to suicide? I've come close sometimes, walked along the abyss but something always pulls me back. What drives those who have succeeded over the edge? This book lets us peek just a little into Sylvia's then tormented soul. Not very light reading, I'm afraid, a book that takes a certain mindset to read but a definite must for Sylvia Plath aficionados.

That's it for now. xx

🦋

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