Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Selby – interiors so hip it hurts

Ahhhh, the ineffable joy of perusing a book that features arty/smarty/crafty types in their eclectic homes, beautifully photographed.   It’s an antidote to mass-produced interiors, and the scrawled handwritten notes and wacky photos are definitely entertaining, but don’t think for a moment these people are so hip they just don’t care – these are seriously self-conscious cool folk.   

The interiors are kooky and dishevelled, the kind that might make your Mamma want to start up the vacuum and grab a rag to wipe over a few crusty surfaces, meanwhile the inhabitants are artistic and photogenic, lounging about in their carefully curated wardrobes or underwear.  

This book is great escapism if you can climb the mountain of pretence and just go with the journey, deep into the heartland of the uber-cool.  You know you want to.

“The Selby is in Your Place” by Todd Selby

The Selby is in your place


Women Hold Up Half The Sky

I’ve just read the alarming but also inspiring Half the Sky – it ‘uncovers’ an enormous humanitarian issue that I was only half awake to – previously no one had put all the pieces together for me.  The book documents the injustices and abuse of women in the developing world, with heartbreaking personal stories, but also stories of incredible bravery.  The authors coin a new term – ‘gendercide’ – to label the extent of abuse these women and girls are suffering.  A couple of facts that I am still trying to get to grips with;

-480 protesters were killed in Tiananmen Square but 39,000 baby girls die annually in China due to neglect

– an estimated 3 million women and girls are trafficked as sex slaves, whereas at the peak of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1780’s just under 80,000 slaves were shipped from Africa annually

– women in poor countries are 1000 times more likely to die in childbirth than in the Western world, and far more likely to suffer permanent injuries from childbirth 

What is going on here?  Why aren’t more people enraged – are we so used to double standards that we have become completely numb?  Do we think that abuse of humans rights is excusable on cultural grounds?  Why are problems affecting females treated like side issues?   

Clearly some are still more equal than others. 

Hopefully this book will bring about much-needed change, but in the meanwhile, I’m counting my many blessings as a woman with access to education, health care and legislated equal rights living in a beautiful, peaceful country. 

<strong>George Clooney</strong>

I think it’s impossible to stand by and do nothing after reading Half the Sky. It does what we need most, it bears witness to the sheer cruelty that mankind can do to mankind.

George Clooney

Scrapbitchin – scrapbooking for adults

Normally the whole concept of scrapbooking makes my toes curl – embellishing photos with mass-produced glittery pastel doodads,  twee comments and other folksy enhancements just isn’t my bag.  (It brings to mind unsavoury images of decorated school folders from teenage years… all the “i”s dotted with bubbles and a combination of hot hunks and fluffy kittens. Quelle horreur.)  But I’ve been reading Sibella Court’s deliciously tactile interiors book, “Etcetera”, which has won the Best Designed book of the Year 2010, and it is constructed just like a scrapbook.  

Sibella’s ‘lost and found’ style is liberating – she inspires you to try new ideas and experiment – after all, worst case you just move/repaint/rearrange.  Her emphasis on reusing and repurposing, finding beauty in imperfection and utilising found objects are all themes that resonate strongly with me.  

The book is appealingly rustic, with fascinating images built up across the page in a carefully constructed visual feast.  I love it.  It reminds me of a treasured old recipe book with yellowed pages, hand scrawled notes, oil splatters, scraps stuck in and bits falling out. No pre-packaged stick-on glitz and plastic here.  Just beautiful imagery, great thick matt paper, appealing fonts and chunky stencils, interesting textures and a droolworthy colours.  

So I’ve changed my mind, I’m gonna start scrapbitchin.  

Oh the places you’ll go! On overcoming leaky sneakers…

Whenever I’m having a leaky sneakers kind of day, I try to remember the wisdom of the late, great Dr Seuss:


Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Continue reading

Never underestimate a Country Bunny

This book is a gift for my daughter for her first Easter. 

I know it looks like another saccharine children’s tale, but The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is a surprise package.  Written in 1939, it was way ahead of its time.  It features a little brown girl rabbit from the country, who dreams of one day being chosen as an important Easter Bunny, despite the fact that all Easter Bunnies are big male jack rabbits.

I loved this book as a child, for both the illustrations and the messages;

1. You can achieve your ultimate career goal even if you have 21 children Continue reading

Then along came Kindle

I love the tactile quality of a hard cover book with a textured outer surface and extra thin creamy pages with a sliver of gold at the edge.  They just feel good.  I have a dream of one day owning a home library with an open fire flanked by leather armchairs, each with its own reading lamp and side table, surrounded by floor to ceiling wooden shelves heaving with books.  I will sit in it and read for hours, only stopping to feed myself or the fire.

But then along came Kindle.  Continue reading