books

SUNDAY / 47

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I had plans for my New Years day, this particular Sunday, but it was rainy and grey and I had just a third of A Little Life left to read. So I cancelled it all and stayed in bed reading, napping and crying, getting up only to make a cup of tea or some toast. I finished it just before dinner, an emotional wreck; so sad to leave the world of the book, so wrought and undone by it.

It is, without hesitation, the saddest and hardest thing I've read. Parts of it made me ill and had me sobbing outwardly. And yet, and yet. I found so much beauty in the relationships of the characters, of the men. Compassion and loyalty and deep, deep abiding love that I was also amazed and inspired by it. Full with the heart of it.

There was something so wonderful about starting my year in bed, lost in another world. It's a story to immerse yourself in, to give over to. 

YEAR THREE.

YEAR TWO.

YEAR ONE.  

SIGN ME UP

3191 FI just signed up for another year of 3191 Quarterly issues and couldn't be happier.

I love the way these ladies see the world. I love what they take out of it and especially what they put back. I often find the online world fake, overly polished and carried away with itself. It sometimes worries me and I don't know how to take it. 3191 for me is the remedy to all this. It is always about sharing the beauty of the everyday, which so often is in life's little messes and quirks. I love the hearty recipes they share here, and the traditional craft ideas. I love that the latest issue is about getting outside, about fresh air and long walks at sunset in overgrown grass. I love that I get a glimpse of this whole other life they live, 3191 miles apart.

3191 A3191 C3191 BYou can order their four, crisp, paper issues right to your door all year round.

* All images courtesy of 3191 Miles Apart, by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes.3191 E

MADE BY HAND

LC1It's a good day when the book you pre-ordered a month or so ago lands on your desk, a good day indeed. I had been waiting (not so) patiently for Lena Corwin's Made By Hand for a little while, hoping it would make its way across the seas in time for me to put together one of the projects as a Christmas gift for my nieces. I try to make their presents each year, or give them a vintage keepsake - they get so much stuff already, are beautifully spoilt with books and toys, that I like to keep it simple.

Lena's work is kind of amazing. I've been reading her blog for a while now, and following along with the range of projects she takes on. She is prolific and endlessly creative and manages to make such detailed, crafted beauties that feel both raw and refined - never overdone or cluttered. Her work feels delicate and whimsical but strong and bold at the same time.

LC3LC5Made By hand is her bit of curation - a whole book of projects by friends and artists that I happily spent last Sunday morning pouring through. From Caitlin Moicun, Erin Considine and Jaime Rugh to Emily Eibel and Ilana Kohn, the whole thing is bursting with beautiful and inspiring ideas - some traditional, some intricate and some challenging. The photography is from Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes, so of course I loved every still. There are detailed instructions and step-by-step images on beautiful crisp white pages, and I was pleased to find a few how-to videos on the website too, for good measure.

I plan to tackle Jaime Rugh's woven placemats for the girls' Christmas present, and maybe even Cal Patch's braided rugs and Erin Considine's coiled bowls in the new year if all goes well...LC2* All images by MAV and SCB for Lena Corwin.

 

ALL TIME

HFI watched High Fidelity again last week. Gosh but I love that film.

I love Nick Hornby and the book was a real favourite of mine when I first read it. I was about 17 and hadn't really read a 'man-book' before, something from a distinctly male perspective that was full of humour and heart and entirely engrossing. Up until then I'd lived mostly on classics and romantic young-adulty novels, so it was such a refreshing change. It seemed so grown-up and British, so normal. I think I've always been drawn to stories like that, not dramatic or over-the-top stuff, but the real life stuff. Everyday stories that happen between work and the pub and catching the train.

When I found out they were making a film version I was wary, as we often are when it's a favourite, but especially as it was going to be American. I loved the North London of Hornby's book and didn't quite see how it would translate. But of course it didn't matter at all. John Cusack is a dreamboat and they kept all the right things and managed to make it a whole story of its own at the same time. And I love Chicago, the city that's a town, that feels middle-America but lively and full of character.

And the 'all-time top fives' absolutely make the film. I love lists and top-fives and it's a beautiful way of framing the story. From a hundred song categories to Rob's top-five things he misses about Laura, it's film that knows which details matter. What we listen to and what we read are how we view the world, and what better way to make that point than a whole soundtrack of just-right pop songs (and a cameo from the Boss).

* It's also the film that introduced me to the Beta Band, and you can't argue with that.

THIS CHARMING MAN

morrissey in pinkOh, but this did make me smile.

And then I came across this and smiled some more.

And now I'm reading this and yes, of course, I'll buy and read the autobiography. I love the way he writes. How could you not love the man who sang the ever-melodic 'and if a double decker bus, crashes into us, to die by your side, well the pleasure and the privilidge is mine'.

The first moment of true Smiths appreciation I can remember was watching Pretty in Pink, when I was 13 or so. There's a scene where Ducky throws playing cards into an old hat, and Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want plays softly in the background. It's heartbreaking and sweet and just all the quiet angst you could hope for in a scene. We were so enamoured with all their albums my sister and I bought an enormous Morrissey poster for our bedroom wall (we shared till we were about 16). It was a couple of metres high and the paper was thick and on hot days it would pull the blu-tack off the wall and fall across the floor and the edges got so frayed and torn but we just couldn't bare to part with it. And then when I was in London, years later, I got three overdue fines from the Westminster City Library on Charing Cross Road because I'd borrowed The Queen is Dead on cassette and listened to it over and over and over again, well past the return date, while my first English winter rained away outside my window (yes, a cassette - on my walkman, it was the 90s after all).

I'm looking forward to reading about those early years in Manchester, all awkward heartbreak and class struggles and Johhny Marr's wonderful songlines in the back.

 

PLAIN AWESOME

DC 2Back when I was in LA (which I can't believe is almost a year ago), I bought my nieces An Awesome Book of Thanks from local author and illustrator Dallas Clayton. It has of course become their favourite thing ever, and my sister's (a teacher), and her husband's (a designer), and mine (a writer), and we have gone about reading it and buying it and recommending it and lending it to everyone we know with children ever since. It is a truly beautiful, inspiring, big-hearted and fun bit of reading no matter what your age. DC 1He has a new book out in November - It's Never Too Late, and I'm readying to pre-order one for the girls and one for myself (obvs). The illustrations here are from his website, a bold and happy selection of love if ever there was one...